At the dinner, Bee trotted out in a white pantsuit, looking like Kristin Chenoweth playing Hillary Clinton in an alternate-reality version of the 2016 election. "Your job has never been harder," she gushed to the assembled members of the self-pleasuring press. "You expose injustice against the weak, and you continue to fact-check the president as if he might someday get embarrassed. Tonight is for you."
Shortly after this ode to the bravery of journalists who maintained silence for eight years of President Barack Obama's lies on Iran and health care, and his Department of Justice targeting the Associated Press and Fox News, Bee appeared on CNN with Jake Tapper. There, she explained of her nearly unwatchable mess of a show, "Full Frontal": "I do the show for me and for people like me, and I don't care how the rest of the world sees it, quite frankly. ... We birth it, and then the world receives it however they want to receive it." During the entirety of this statement, a smug grin was plastered across her face.
Here's a basic rule of thumb: In order to be smug, you generally have to be unaware of your smugness. Bee fits the bill. So do the members of the White House press corps. There is plenty to question about President Trump's administration, from his shifting promises to his knee-jerk reversals, from his policy vagaries to his staffing chaos. But instead of approaching the American people as potential friends to be convinced, smug leftists treat them as ignoramuses. There's no sincerity involved. Every critique of Trump supporters lumps them all together, and then treats them as gum stuck to the bottom of the shoe of the republic.
Samantha Bee and company have the unmistakable air of the bullies from every high school and college comedy: preening self-obsessed rich kids who sneer at the "losers" who inhabit the hallways, and plan pool parties and taunt the poor kids who can't afford anything better than a beat-up Pinto. The journalist/Hollywood clique is Greg Marmalard from "Animal House," Rod from "Breaking Away" and Regina George from "Mean Girls." They're smug. They're liberal. And that's what drives Trump support.
Trump knows this. That's why he skipped the correspondents dinner and instead went to Pennsylvania, where he held a rally and hilariously declared, "A large group of Hollywood actors and Washington media are consoling each other in a hotel ballroom in our nation's capital right now." It was the best moment for Trump since his speech to a joint session of Congress.
Trump may not be popular among the cool kids. But he's cool enough among them to win supporters in the swing states. If the cool kids don't cut it out, they'll get eight years to mock him and be smug in their assurance that they know what the American people want better than they do.