This time it’s not Megyn Kelly, the bereaved father of an Army captain, or a former Miss Universe contestant. No, Donald Trump’s latest Twitter feud is with the cast of Hamilton — the Broadway musical that has taken the world by storm.
Hamilton’s cast delivered a personal message to Vice President-elect Mike Pence, who attended the musical Friday night and was booed by the theater audience, making a case for diversity and inclusivity. But rather than hearing the plea, Trump demanded an apology:
Our wonderful future V.P. Mike Pence was harassed last night at the theater by the cast of Hamilton, cameras blazing.This should not happen!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 19, 2016
The Theater must always be a safe and special place.The cast of Hamilton was very rude last night to a very good man, Mike Pence. Apologize!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 19, 2016
Trump’s response is not entirely out of character; the president-elect is known for taking to Twitter to punch back at any and all critiques (most recently he censured the “failing New York Times”). Nevertheless, it’s a notable escalation from what was perceived as a gracious plea from the musical’s cast.
As my colleague Caroline Framke explained, Brandon Victor Dixon, who’s playing Aaron Burr, addressed Pence from the stage on Friday, thanking him for attending the show and requesting that the audience film his message. He then gestured toward Hamilton’s diverse cast of mostly minority actors and expressed anxiety that the Trump-Pence administration “will not protect us, our planet, our children, our parents.”
Here are Dixon’s remarks in full:
Vice President-elect Pence, we welcome you and we truly thank you for joining us at Hamilton: An American Musical. We really do.
We, sir, are the diverse America who are alarmed and anxious that your new administration will not protect us, our planet, our children, our parents — or defend us and uphold our inalienable rights, sir.
But we truly hope that this show has inspired you to uphold our American values and work on behalf of all of us. All of us.
We truly thank you for sharing this show — this wonderful American story told by a diverse group of men, women of different colors, creeds, and orientations.
Dixon later responded to Trump’s tweet, noting that “conversation is not harassment”:
Nevertheless, the president-elect was not alone in taking offense. Newt Gingrich, one of Trump’s close allies whose name was initially floated for secretary of state, also responded to the show’s closing statement, calling the cast of Hamilton arrogant and hostile:
The arrogance and hostility of the Hamilton cast to the Vice President elect ( a guest at the theater) is a reminder the left still fights.— Newt Gingrich (@newtgingrich) November 19, 2016
Trump’s propensity for online feuds proved to be a campaign advertising tactic throughout the primaries and general election cycle. But now that he’s the president-elect, many are speculating it is just another distraction technique, drawing attention away from his policy ideas and transition team appointments.
If anything, however, it signifies that Trump’s quick temper, and inability to let criticism slide, may very likely continue through his time in office.
Trump has been warned about his temperament — but there’s no sign he will change
President Barack Obama has already issued a not-so-subtle warning about Trump’s temperament — that it may not suit him well in the White House.
“Whatever you bring to this office, this office has a habit of magnifying and pointing out, and hopefully you correct for it,” Obama said at a press conference on November 16. “There are going to be certain elements to his temperament that are not going to serve him well unless he recognizes them and corrects for them.”
But that doesn’t seem to be having much influence on Trump’s Twitter presence. According to Vox’s Ezra Klein, there is a good reason for that: “Trump did win, and he did it against all odds, in spite of all predictions, and by doing things everyone told him not to do. Reality has proven him, and his instincts, right.”
Any prospect of Trump being shaped by an establishment administration, ready to rein him in, is dissolving as Trump’s loyalists and yes men egg him on — even when it comes to feuding with the cast of a popular musical.