When Saturday Night Live (hereafter SNL) lampoons someone they exaggerate the gap between the person’s reputation and reality to reveal their identity. In this approach, SNL exaggerate some trait to show the person as ridiculous. For Trump, this does not work because the gap does not reveal Trump so much as understate him. The behaviour they show is Trump being Trump. More to the point, their lampoons do more to celebrate than criticise him. It is a perverse form of hagiography.
If SNL wanted a real lampoon, they would focus on the gap between Trump and a decent man. Trump’s leadership style reveals this gap. The President exists to serve the people, to represent them, and to shepherd them. In a word, the president works on the idea of servant leadership. By contrast, Trump does not practice servant leadership. Such an approach is antithetical to what he believes and practices. Followers exist to serve the leader. The nation exists to serve Trump.
The following question reveals the difference. Would Trump wash the feet of the poor, the homeless, the disabled, the immigrant? We cannot imagine that Trump would wash their feet. We can see Obama, Bush, Clinton, George H Bush, Reagan, Carter, Nixon, LBJ and JFK serving the poor. For those presidents who served in the military as officers, they understand that role or responsibility where they minister to the men who served them. Even without that military background, the men who came to the presidency saw themselves as public servants, conscious of their duty and responsibility.
If SNL wanted to lampoon Trump, they would show him
- Being honest
- Being just by paying what he promised.
- Being faithful to his wife
- Being a good father
- Being respectful to women
- Being compassionate to the weak, the immigrant, the poor, the vulnerable.
If SNL showed this gap we would see the horror of his presidency, but it would not be funny. SNL perpetuate the horror as they deaden us to Trump’s corrupt character. They habituate us to his excess not to decency. SNL profits from Trump and he knows it. In this, they are both the same.
SNL share Trump’s injustice, venality, and moral corruption. SNL want to be liked. Trump does not care. He thrives on the attention as it means you talk about him as your criticism reveals your hypocrisy or jealousy. SNL don’t want to be: just, respectful to women, faithful to their spouses, or good fathers. They both need the rubes, the uninitiated audience, to be those things so they can profit from them. Trump exemplifies what America now understand to be virtue: his success, wealth, fame, and sexual profligacy.
SNL will continue to make a saint of Trump because it serves them well. What they do not want to do is reveal their role in the deeper horror in America’s soul. If they reveal Trump; they reveal themselves; they reveal America’s diseased soul. Perhaps this is why no one finds it funny.
 Obama came to politics as a community organiser working in the poorest neighbourhoods to serve the most vulnerable and marginalized.
 George W Bush famously campaigned on the theme of “compassionate conservatism”. He is not one to glorify in prosperity gospel nor a brutal libertarianism based on economic and social survival of the fittest.
 Clinton is probably one of the most empathetic presidents of the modern era in his ability to connect with the public especially the weakest and most vulnerable.
 Bush, like JFK, served in the Navy. His upbringing had a strong ethos of public service.
 Reagan had a deep faith and served in the Armed forces. His belief in service can be seen in the event where African Americans were turned away from a local hotel and he invited them back to his home. His parents took them in for the evening and fed them the next day.
 Carter’s religious faith drove a deep public service ethos. Even though he was as calculating and politically savvy as any previous president, he presents the best example of faith in the office.
 Nixon as a Quaker was raised with the public service ethos. His military service reinforced this message and his political career though driven by an insatiable desire for success that would force those he saw as his enemies to respect him was one in which service to the common good was the measure of success.
 LBJ understood poverty and taught poor Mexican children so he understood public service. Even though he was driven by appetites that would consume Trump’s, he understood that his fame would come by his public service never by his private gains. There might be men who had greater wealth, but LBJ wanted to be the greatest president surpassing even FDR.
 JFK was a navy officer and his upbringing would have given the idea of public service even though he had his private vices. He understood that he had to respect the public decency.