As a lifelong Hoosier, I grew up idolizing David Letterman. He proved that a kid from Indiana could go from the wiseass weatherman on Channel 13 in Indianapolis (where he once predicted “hail the size of canned hams”) to the wiseass would-be successor to Johnny Carson. I loved Late Night, and I still think pretty much everything he did before he left NBC was great. But as he became more popular and wealthy, somehow he also became more angry and bitter. Losing out to Leno seemed to have broken his spirit, and he just turned into a crank. I quit watching his show 10 years before he finally took it out back of the barn and put it out of its misery, but every once in a while I’d hear about him still making Cheney jokes, well into the Obama era. He just couldn’t let go of his partisan hatred. And now that he’s in semi-retirement and his worst nightmare (and frequent guest) is in the White House, he has no reason to lighten the hell up.
Letterman recently interviewed Kanye West for the new season of Whatever That Letterman Show on Netflix Is Called, and eventually the conversation turned to Trump because that’s all anybody can ever talk about anymore. Matt Wilstein, Daily Beast:
In the midst of a somewhat confusing argument about his “fear” as a man during the #MeToo movement, Kanye says, “This is like my thing with Trump—we don’t have to feel the same way, but we have the right to feel what we feel.” When he wears his “Make America Great Again” hat, he says it’s “not about politics” but rather an attempt to break the stigma around showing support for Trump.
“Did you vote for Trump?” Letterman asks him.
“I’ve never voted in my life,” Kanye answers.
“Then you don’t have a say in this,” Letterman shoots back to cheers from the audience.
This assertion will sound familiar to anyone who’s ever been berated by a Trumpkin, but oddly, Letterman is coming at it from the left. It makes about as much sense as proclaiming “Not my president” about somebody you didn’t vote for. It doesn’t really mean anything. It’s just a signal to your tribe that you still belong. It’s a reminder not to cast you out for fraternizing with the enemy.
I think Kanye is as crazy now as he was when he said, “George Bush doesn’t care about black people.” But he has as much say in current events in 2019 as he did in 2005. After Hurricane Katrina, he sure didn’t get any #whitesplaining from the likes of David Letterman. Back then the left loved Kanye, whether he voted or not, because he made trouble for their enemy. Now they hate him for refusing to hate their enemy.
Cool beard though, Dave. Too bad you lost that part in The Ballad of Buster Scruggs to Tom Waits.