Acclaimed actor Meryl Streep lit up social media during Sunday’s Golden Globe awards in an explicitly political speech, where she harshly criticized President-elect Donald Trump without ever mentioning him by name.
But it’s tempting to ask what measurable good a wealthy Hollywood star can do by calling out Trump’s most deplorable character traits ---- his bullying and penchant for dissembling ---- on a Hollywood awards telecast stuffed full of fellow wealthy actors who, to borrow from the late John Lennon, merely rattled their jewelry in approval.
If you missed it, in a damning and widely replayed indictment, Streep took direct aim at one of Trump’s lowest moments on the campaign trail: His open mocking of a disabled New York Times reporter. It was a performance by the president-elect, Streep said, that “sank hooks into my heart.”
“It wasn’t a movie it was real life,” Streep said, echoing the still-lingering disbelief of many that the tangerine-hued former reality television star will soon make the crossover from the small screen to the planet’s largest stage, leaving a trail of insults, disdain and disrespect for ... well ... nearly everyone whose last name is not either Trump or Putin, after him.
“Disrespect invites disrespect, violence incites violence,” Streep said, as she picked up a lifetime achievement award. “When the truly powerful use their position to bully others, we all lose.”
She went on to add that “Hollywood is crawling with outsiders and foreigners, and if you kick us all out, you’ll have nothing to watch except for football and mixed martial arts, which are not arts.”
She closed with a shout-out to the press to hold Trump accountable for his dissembling.
Okay, so points for style on the latter. But points deducted for taking a whack at two forms of entertainment widely beloved in that part of America that us coastal elites wrongfully refer to as flyover country.
With that snooty dismissal, Streep partly knocked the legs out from under her own argument, squandering her chance to use her bully pulpit to cast America’s bully-in-chief in the harshest possible light.
If Democrats can be faulted for anything, it’s that they forgot about blue-collar voters who love football and MMA in equal measure, and who rejected Hillary Clinton in favor of Trump’s fanciful claims that he’d bring back steel and coal and punish job-exporting employers.
As it turns out though, Trump did some of Streep’s work for her, reverting to type and Tweeting Monday that Streep was “one of the most overrated actresses in Hollywood,” and a “Hillary flunky who lost big.”
And because he couldn’t help himself, Trump once again spread the outright falsehood that he never “mocked a disabled reporter (would never do that) but simply showed him ‘groveling” when he totally changed a 16-year-old story that he had written in order to make me look bad. Just more very dishonest media.”
Except that Trump did mock the reporter, Serge F. Kovaleski, waving his arms about in obscene imitation of the journalist’s disability, in retaliation for Kovaleski publicly disputing Trump’s claim to have witnessed thousands of Muslims celebrating the fall of the Twin Towers on 9/11.
So, in that, at least, Streep accomplished something: She prompted Trump to once again show his true face to the world, the bullying, hectoring one that cannot bear even the most minor of slights to his fragile ego from a well-regarded film star.
But progressives who took to Twitter and Facebook to celebrate Streep’s remarks, sometimes in the crudest of terms, should remain vigilant not to turn into the thing that they despise or what their worst critics believe them to be: Scornful elites trapped in gold-plated towers who are unable to see past their own self-regard.
As Trump has so vividly shown, it’s eternally easy to hurl barbs. Actually governing and inspiring is another matter entirely.
And for the Left, the real fight, the one over Trump’s policies, and their likely disastrous implications for the nation, haven’t even begun.
Be vigilant? Certainly. But better to keep your powder dry for the real battle to come.
An award-winning political journalist, Micek is the Opinion Editor and Political Columnist for PennLive/The Patriot-News in Harrisburg, Pa. Readers may follow him on Twitter @ByJohnLMicek and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org