baldwin trump snl orig 12-15-18
'SNL' shows life if Trump hadn't been elected
01:32 - Source: CNN

Editor’s Note: Dean Obeidallah, a former attorney, is the host of SiriusXM radio’s daily program “The Dean Obeidallah Show” and a columnist for The Daily Beast. Follow him @DeanObeidallah. The opinions expressed in this commentary are his own. View more opinion articles on CNN.

CNN  — 

‘Saturday Night Live’ has done it again – offending the thin-skinned President Donald Trump. This time it appears the sketch that caused Trump to take a brief break from complaining about special counsel Robert Mueller was the comedy show’s cold open – a parody of the classic holiday film “It’s a Wonderful Life” titled “It’s a Wonderful Trump.” Instead of a distraught George Bailey (played by Jimmy Stewart) being shown a world without him, SNL looks at an America where Trump was never president.

Dean Obeidallah

The sketch, which aired in black and white to reflect the original film, featured a distraught Trump, played by Alec Baldwin, standing alone on the White House balcony muttering, “It’s awful. Everything’s falling apart.” SNL’s Trump then adds, “Sometimes I wish I had never been president.”

While the sketch offered many insights into the troubling workings of the President, it missed one key point. Trump has inspired something truly wonderful, namely a level of activism – largely in opposition to him and his administration – that we would not have seen had Hillary Clinton won the election. And, in the long run, this is vitally important to those, including myself, who want to prevent another Trump-type leader from ever winning the White House again.

Still, the SNL sketch did get several things right. When Trump’s guardian angel Clarence appears, he gives Trump a tour of what could have been if he had never become president. For example, there’s a happy-looking Trump aide Kellyanne Conway, played by Kate McKinnon, who gleefully declares, “After we lost the campaign, the devil did give me my soul back.” She exits the scene by telling Trump, “So excuse me, I have to go find my husband, who I do speak to now.” (An obvious reference to her husband George Conway, who has become an increasingly public critic of Trump.)

The sketch concludes with Trump, unlike Bailey in the film, not grasping the life lesson being offered. Trump tells his guardian angel, “I have had an epiphany…I guess the world does need me to be president after all,” to which Clarence responds, “Yeah…that was not the lesson at all.”

Trump then repeats “I want to be president again” until a bell rings similar to what we saw in the original movie. SNL’s Conway delivers an updated version of the famous line from the film, telling Trump, “Every time a bell rings, someone you know quits or goes to jail.”

Well, that was apparently too much for Trump, who took to Twitter on Sunday morning to slam the show, claiming, “A REAL scandal is the one sided coverage, hour by hour, of networks like NBC & Democrat spin machines like Saturday Night Live.” Trump then seemed to suggest that SNL should be sued and taken to court, “Should be tested in courts, can’t be legal? Only defame & belittle! Collusion?”

Trump attacking SNL is nothing new. In September, Trump took time from his busy day to declare that the show was “no longer funny,” and in the past he even called for the iconic late night show to be cancelled for mocking him. Although it would be refreshing if Republicans stood up to Trump’s attempt to silence a comedy show, they seem more afraid of Trump than Scrooge was of the ghost of Christmas future.

Now, in all fairness, Trump might have a point claiming that SNL was “one sided,” since the show has not covered all of the positive outcomes that the President has inspired. But I doubt Trump would be happy about those developments, since they are largely about him inspiring people to oppose him.

For example, in last month’s election, Democrats flipped 40 House seats from red to blue, the most since 1974. Many of these candidates were inspired to run to oppose Trump and his policies. And just as exciting were all the firsts in this class of newly elected Democrats to Congress, including the first two Muslim women, the first Native American women and the first African-American women elected from New England. We also saw Democrats flip seven governorships from red to blue, including in Wisconsin and the deep red Kansas.

Stay up to date...

  • Sign up for our new newsletter.
  • Join us on Twitter and Facebook

    And beyond electoral politics, Trump deserves credit for inspiring the rise of resistance movements, including Indivisible, which offers practical advice on how to organize and engage in grassroots opposition. Add to that the amazing displays of mass activism from the Women’s March to protests against Trump’s first Muslim ban to the March for Our Lives rally, spearheaded by the students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

    It’s unlikely we would have seen any of this if Trump had not won the 2016 election. Many Americans would have remained complacent about the status quo.

    Now, to be clear, it’s not been a wonderful life under Trump – in fact, at times it’s been horrible. That said, Trump also has inspired so many to become engaged in the political process, and that counts for something.