×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Politicon: Trump, Genius or Lunatic? Clay Aiken Says Neither, ‘He’s a Narcissist’

Politicon, taking place this weekend in Pasadena, has a penchant for panels with provocative titles, and one of those this year poses a question: Donald Trump: Genius or Lunatic?

It is not too surprising that with a panel on Saturday composed of both Trump supporters and detractors, there was really no consensus answer.

Instead, it seemed to raise other questions, topics, and conversations.

“I am not quite ready to call him a lunatic and I sure as hell am not calling him a genius. He’s a narcissist,” concluded Clay Aiken, the singer, “Celebrity Apprentice” runner-up, and former congressional candidate.

He recalled going to one of his rallies in Wilkes-Barres, Pa., last year in an arena that Aiken had once sold out when he performed with Kelly Clarkson.

“I knew in that moment that is why he was running, because I remember what that is like,” Aiken said. “I remember the energy of the people from that crowd when they are playing that video of you before you come out. It is something you don’t want to give up. Donald Trump ran for that attention. He is continuing to do his rallies for that attention.”

Actually, attention is the currency of Politicon, too. The New Republic earlier this week called it the “Perfect Media Racket for the Trump Era.” It’s heavy in talk radio personalities and media pundits, politically interested celebrities, and many people who have recently written books. Organizers have hopes of exceeding the 8,000 who attended last year, with an admission fee of $50 each day. As you can imagine, those who attend are interested in politics and have very strong points of view, whether they be pro- or anti-Trump (As a safety precaution, attendees do have to go through metal detectors).

One woman — wearing a red, white, and blue dress, no less — was the first up when the “Trump: Genius of Lunatic” panel was opened up for audience questions, and she insisted that Trump was “by far the most accomplished president in his first six months ever.”

“The left lunacy continues to focus on such ridiculous nonsense,” she said to cheers from the crowd.

Then, to the relief of moderator Sally Kohn, she got to her question: “When will you on the left stop acting like lunatics?”

One of the Trump detractors on the panel, Anthony Atamanuik, who plays Trump as the the creator and star of Comedy Central’s “The President Show,” tried to sound understanding. He told her, “What I have empathy for is the frustration of not being heard.”

Coming off a week in which Trump replaced his chief of staff and saw healthcare reform legislation skid in the Senate, among many other things, his supporters at Politicon seemed just as enthused as they were last year.

Robert Davi noted that Ronald Reagan got “the same ridicule, even within the party.” He said that Trump has shown that he has a “compassionate heart,” and he chalked up some of the turbulence of his first six months in office to Washington politics. He called it a “viper’s nest.”

Davi added, “They had seven years to go across the aisle and say to the Democrats, ‘How do we fix this for the American people?’

Scottie Nell Hughes, a CNN commentator, complained of the way that the media has covered Trump, instead of focusing on “what is really on the minds of the American people.”

When Kohn pressed her on Trump’s accomplishments, Hughes cited Neil Gorsuch on the Supreme Court and Trump’s effort to get NATO countries to pay their fair share of defense, but she also said, “Folks, it is just six months, and he has to fight his own party as much as he has to fight the other side.”

And Hughes also defended Trump’s tweets, a constant source of media distraction, as a way to “send the American people a pathway they can trust.”

Aiken added that Trump craves the attention — positive or negative — and conceded he was a “wonderful entertainer.” But he turned to his experience on “The Apprentice” to try to deconstruct how Trump thinks.

On the set, Aiken said, Trump relied on cue cards.

“I always noticed that when he would get to a point on the cue card that he actually understood what was going on, he would repeat it. He’d double down on it. And when I watched him do these speeches at these rallies — which he why he ran — when he gets to the speech and repeats something, it is because he has gotten to the place in the script where he realizes, ‘Oh. I understand what I am saying.”

He added, “He took credit for firing people [on the show]. He didn’t know what happened during the day. I said a few times, he had a little TelePromoter in front of him on the table, and he’s running this country in the same way that he ran ‘Apprentice,’ which is producers are kind of telling him what is going on, and he is trying to make it look like he is getting something done.”

More Biz

  • Louis Tomlinson Signs With Arista (EXCLUSIVE)

    Louis Tomlinson Signs With Arista (EXCLUSIVE)

    One Direction’s Louis Tomlinson has signed with Arista, sources tell Variety. While the singer was formerly linked with Epic Records in 2017, he is signed directly to Simon Cowell’s Syco label and will move within the Sony Music family to Arista. Tomlinson teased a new single on Feb. 2, posting on Twitter, “Just heard the [...]

  • Jussie Smollett

    Jussie Smollett's Bail Set at $100,000, Must Surrender Passport

    UPDATED: A Chicago judge set a $100,000 bond for Jussie Smollett on Thursday, as the “Empire” actor made his first court appearance. Smollett faces one felony count of filing a false police report. Police allege that Smollett staged a Jan. 29 attack, telling detectives that he was accosted by two men who used racial and [...]

  • Michael Jackson Estate Accuses HBO of

    Michael Jackson Estate Sues HBO for Non-Disparagement Contract Breach

    The estate of Michael Jackson sued HBO on Thursday, accusing the cable channel of violating a non-disparagement clause by agreeing to run “Leaving Neverland,” a documentary accusing Jackson of sexual abuse. The suit seeks to compel HBO to litigate the matter in a public arbitration process, and claims that the estate could be awarded $100 [...]

  • Allison Kaye

    Scooter Braun Names Allison Kaye Partner at Ithaca Holdings (EXCLUSIVE)

    On the back of a history-making debut by Ariana Grande, who claims the top three songs on the Billboard Hot 100 chart this week (tying the Beatles), Scooter Braun has appointed his longtime deputy Allison Kaye to partner at Ithaca Holdings LLC, which houses SB Projects. She was previously president of music at the 12-year-old [...]

  • Tidal Launches $1 Million Program to

    Tidal Launches Unplugged, $1 Million Program to Support Emerging Musicians

    Tidal, the streaming platform headed by Jay-Z, today announced the launch of a million-dollar artist grant program intended to support emerging musicians. Called Tidal Unplugged and funded by a donation from venture capitalists and philanthropists Mark Lampert and Robert Nelsen, the program will kick off March 1 in Detroit, where Lampert’s grandfather started his musical career. [...]

  • Patti Smith, Sharon Van Etten Lead

    Patti Smith, Sharon Van Etten, Lead Initial Lineup for Renovated Webster Hall

    New York’s classic venue Webster Hall, which will reopen this spring after a months-long renovation, has announced the first run of shows after its relaunch: Patti Smith and Her Band, Broken Social Scene, MGMT, Empire of the Sun, Old Dominion, Sharon Van Etten, Built to Spill, Real Estate, Chromeo and Big Thief are among the [...]

  • Jussie Smollett

    Jussie Smollett Charged With Filing False Police Report

    “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett has been charged with filing a false police report, the Chicago police said Wednesday. “Detectives will make contact with his legal team to negotiate a reasonable surrender for his arrest,” police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said on Twitter. Smollett is due to appear in court for a bond hearing at 1:30 p.m. [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content