During these last few months, Democrats have been searching madly for someone they could put forward to challenge Donald Trump in 2020. It is getting them nowhere. All suggested would be unable to deal with Trump’s adolescent behavior. Trump would find a one-word insult for each of them.
He’d utter it. Elizabeth Warren would call him out for his adolescent behavior and Trump would laugh at her. Kirsten Gillibrand would listen, sit perfectly straight, blink her eyes then curse at him. Trump would try to comfort her. Chuck Schumer would bristle and lose his temper and Trump would say the word over and over, after which Schumer would apologize. Andrew Cuomo would sit there quietly and then stand up, ignore Trump and then go into a stump speech about American values and the Constitution and then sit back down, after which there would be 20 seconds of dead silence.
I can think of only two other people—one of them is myself—who could find the appropriate response to Trump and stick it to him. The other is Alec Baldwin.
At the present time, my ringing announcement from two years ago that I would run for President in 2020 is still in the air. I threw my hat into the ring when 17 people announced for the Republican nomination in 2016. I figured that with all the money soon to fly around, I could get some for 2020. I set VOTE FOR DAN street boxes around the country, asking people to put cash in the slot on top. Nobody did. I’m disappointed and perhaps I should drop out of the race.
As for Alec Baldwin, he hasn’t yet declared for the office, but he should. In a face-to-face debate, he’d hear Trump’s artfully constructed single word insult, immediately transform into Saturday Night Live Trump and begin chastising himself for having created it. The real Trump might try other words, better words for Alec. “The Red October Person.” “Liar, liar pants on fire.” “Silly Alec.” See? Nothing works.
The day could then come, three years from now, when Saturday Night Live would feature Donald Trump, having been swept from power, using his amazing talent for adolescent behavior to caricature President Baldwin. I can see Donald now, his great swoop of hair askew, come limping with a cane down to the microphone, where he could do his best imitation.
Think about it. I bet it would be pretty good. The far right would love it. The far left would love it. Trump could then launch into his next career and take his “Alec Baldwin” on the road, appearing throughout the South and Midwest to the cheers and raves of his adoring supporters—all those out-of-work white working-class folks.
Alec Baldwin, as president, would have a lot to learn. He’d need lots of advice. But I think that in the one area Trump shines—selfishly and heartlessly in my opinion—Alec does, too. They both get things done. No one has ever accused Trump of sitting on his butt. Turns out Alec doesn’t sit on his butt, either.
Some years ago, I wrote a chapter in one of my “In the Hamptons” books about Alec Baldwin. Here’s what Alec did in that one year. He starred in three movies, one Broadway show and the TV show 30 Rock, co-hosted the Academy Awards, hosted an awards ceremony at the Kennedy Center in Washington, attended the commencement and received an honorary degree from NYU, was a guest judge on the TV show The Marriage Ref, hosted a live television broadcast of the New York Philharmonic and was on Saturday Night Live several times. He also wrote a book about family law in America.
Locally, he starred in the play Equus at the John Drew Theater at Guild Hall, hosted two fundraisers, founded a watchdog group to keep an eye on local politicians and their attitude toward saving the environment, co-hosted, with Billy Joel, the film The Last Play at Shea, about Joel’s last performance at Shea Stadium, was an auctioneer for a charity, funded a lecture series of panel discussions at Guild Hall and played right field in the annual Artist-Writers Game in East Hampton.
Baldwin continues at this great pace and, after welcoming his third child with wife Hilaria last year, announced that Hilaria is again expecting.
What kind of president would Alec Baldwin make? Well, if you want to make the argument that President Trump has sent everything he can get his hands on careening off to the far right, I would predict that Baldwin would come in and send it back at least to the center where it belongs, or, more likely, where it was when Trump took over.
Consider the latest thing in the news about Alec Baldwin, which concerns a painting he bought to display in his home here. When he’s right, he’s right.
Seven years ago, Baldwin contacted the prominent Manhattan art dealer Mary Boone to tell her he had seen a painting he wanted by Ross Bleckner. It was called “Sea and Mirror,” and, according to a piece in The New Yorker, he so loved it that he kept a photograph of it in his wallet for years. If it came up for sale, could she get it for him? She said she’d try.
A few months later, Boone told Baldwin she had the painting and was “thrilled” that Baldwin wanted it. They agreed on a price of $190,000, Baldwin paid it, and soon, he received it. It was signed, dated and stamped 7449 on the back, which was the inventory number of that particular work. The New Yorker reports that Baldwin thought the colors looked more vivid than he remembered them. Also, the paint smelled fresh. He asked Boone about it and she said it was because it had been owned by a heavy smoker and so, without cost to Baldwin, it had been cleaned and a few scratches repaired.
Baldwin was satisfied with that, but in 2014, after some friends told him there was something not right about this because nobody cleans a painting without consulting the owner, Baldwin confronted Bleckner about it.
Bleckner told him that, indeed, he’d painted a new one to look like the old one. The fallout from this was a civil lawsuit filed against Boone and her gallery that was settled before trial, three weeks ago. Boone would give Baldwin a large settlement, and he could keep the painting. She would also give him several other Bleckner paintings, one of which would be painted to Baldwin’s specifications.
“Maybe I’ll have Ross paint a picture of the seven-figure check that Mary paid me to settle,” Baldwin told The New Yorker. He also told them he might one day take the fraudulent painting out on a cross-country tour about art fraud. “I’ll call it Boonedoggle Tour,” he said.
The New Yorker also reported Baldwin intended to give half of the money to help rebuild the Sag Harbor Cinema, which was destroyed by fire last winter. But it seems there was some miscommunication, and this is not going to happen. Casey Bader, at Baldwin’s office, subsequently told 27East, “The Sag Harbor pledge was something Alec made prior to the settlement, has since rethought, and will no longer be making.”
Why? It’s unclear, but according to April Gornik, the head of a group intending to raise $8 million by December 16, they are already at the $6.25 million mark and are hopeful they will reach that goal, with or without Baldwin.
Perhaps a charitable donation elsewhere makes more sense.
And by the way, Baldwin’s memoir is in bookstores. It’s called Nevertheless, but it does not include the forthcoming years when he will be president.