Opinion: How Jim Gaffigan’s profanity-laced tirade could hurt Trump
Gaffigan, who I’ve known personally for years, unleashed a profanity-infused Twitter storm where he warned Trump supporters, among other things, that the President is “a traitor and a con man who doesn’t care about you.”
Gaffigan, whose animated series “Pale Force” made him known for jokes about how White he is, didn’t stop there. He slammed Trump for his “incompetent” handling of the Covid-19 crisis, adding, “You know all those people didn’t need to die.” The comic also warned that Trump “is a fascist who has no belief in law,” while defending Joe Biden against Trump’s claims that his Democratic rival is a socialist. And then Gaffigan did something he would ever do on stage: he cursed, writing, “I don’t give a f–k if anyone thinks this is virtue signaling or whatever,’ adding, “We need to call trump the con man and thief that he is.”
In a word: Wow! Gaffigan was prepared to break out even if it meant hurting his commercial appeal. Gaffigan’s tweets ended up as the second most popular trending topic on Twitter Thursday night, behind the Republican National convention. And as you would imagine, people who don’t like Trump cheered Gaffigan while Trump’s supporters did the opposite. Despite the backlash, Gaffigan was not backing down. On Saturday, he thanked those who offered support, “the truth requires direct sunlight, adding, “I regret nothing.”
Before Trump supporters dismiss Gaffigan as a typical Hollywood liberal or a Never Trumper, they should realize that in some ways Gaffigan may be emblematic of the so-called “silent majority” that Trump believes will lead him to victory this November.
The phrase “silent majority” comes from Richard Nixon’s 1968 presidential campaign, where he invoked it to describe what he believed was a large group of Americans who quietly supported his proposals, especially with regards to the Vietnam War. Trump similarly hopes there’s a large swath of people on his side that aren’t speaking out or are not reflected in the polls.
Trump needs to win this “silent majority” to defeat Biden, currently ahead in national polls, in November. And while Gaffigan may not be a typical member of this group — the Indiana-born comic has described himself as a Democrat “with sympathy for both sides” and he’s certainly not silent — his uncharacteristically passionate outburst against the President may resonate with others like Gaffigan, who is a White, devoutly Roman Catholic, family man from the Midwest.
Trump has long been losing support among suburban women, who were viewed as a significant part of the coalition that led Democrats to win back the House in 2018 and needs to overperform with white men to make up for that. (In 2016, 62% of white men cast a ballot for Trump.)
Worse for Trump, Gaffigan — who has over three million Twitter followers — is not done calling him out. On Sunday morning Gaffigan posted on Twitter and Instagram, “Thanks to everyone who came to my show tonight in Philadelphia,” he wrote, adding sarcastically, “amazingly there was no violence given it’s one of those dangerous Democratic run cities. Oh, that’s right, that is just another lie from Trump and his cronies meant to frighten suburban voters and distract from the fact 180,000 Americans died from a hoax disease.”
Will Gaffigan change minds with voters who love his comedy but are undecided in this election? That’s going to be hard to gauge. But as one of the highest-grossing comedians in the US, his fan base no doubt includes many Trump needs to vote for him in 2020 if he hopes to keep using the White House as a backdrop for his rallies.
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