Pete Davidson and Dan Crenshaw on Saturday Night Live

The Made-for-TV Olive Branch

Pete Davidson and Dan Crenshaw made nice on 'SNL,' but the moment calls for a little scrutiny

Courtesy: NBC

Something really interesting happened on Saturday Night Live when Lt. Cmdr. Dan Crenshaw, now a congressman-elect for the 2nd District of Texas, showed up on the show's Weekend Update segment. He received an apology from Pete Davidson about a joke that the comic had made the previous weekend about Crenshaw losing his eye in the line of duty.

It was a flippant kind of throwaway comment that is typical of Davidson’s humor, but the right wing latched onto it tightly leading into election day to help fuel the anger of an already seething base. It also seemed to fade pretty quickly as people became obsessed with election results and keeping up with the Trump cycle. So it took viewers off-guard when the conservative veteran showed up on the comedy show Saturday night to graciously accept an apology, and it was even more surprising when it turned out he could deliver a joke.
I really liked this interaction between Crenshaw and Davidson because it was a refreshing settling of differences in the guise of old-school chivalry that has been so absent in the era of Trump. It focused on the path we should all be taking on both sides right now, which is finding common ground to tone down the escalating discord. The idea that we can have ideological differences as Americans, but still have an underlying respect for what America stands for, seems like such a faraway nod to a time when we didn’t know how good we had it.

Watching men act like mature adults in a time when an apology is as rare as the acceptance of that apology seems so novel. But amidst all of the feel-good camaraderie and oneness that we are all so desperately craving, there can be a dangerous tendency to drop our guard when someone from the right shows a more decent, rational side. Enter the Tucker Carlson effect.

Tucker Carlson claimed protesters had threatened his family in their home and vandalized his property one night recently in Washington D.C. while he was not around. Reports flooded in that his wife had locked herself in the pantry and frantically called the police, thinking people were going to break in. It was a moment when folks on the left could relate to the conservative pundit and express concern for him about his fears for his family’s safety. I even tweeted out something in his defense before I could help myself. But that quickly ended as the details about the event surfaced and Carlson, through Fox News, seemingly amplified an exaggerated version that made peaceful protesters into monsters.

It turns out that none of the protesters there were arrested for graffiti or causing the disturbance in question, and the case still remains open. Carlson claimed someone threw themselves against the front door and actually cracked it, but no account of a damaged door was made in the police report. Tucker Carlson and Fox News continued to spin the events as if it was a savage attack from the left. Fox News even reportedly instructed the entire digital team to stop tweeting out content as a way of boycotting Twitter for allowing accounts to post about Carlson and the event in question.

We are at risk of making too much of this moment in entertainment and overlooking the fact that Crenshaw shares several policy stances with Trump, like the need to build an expensive and unnecessary border wall.

So, my point in all of this Carlson-ness is that things are rarely black and white, despite our need to make them so. It is a welcomed moment when two men on opposite sides of the political spectrum can make amends and crack jokes and move forward, especially in this current climate. But it doesn’t mean we should overlook all of the things that brought us to this moment. Saying things like Dan Crenshaw “started the week as a punchline and ended it as a star” is dangerous because it sets the bar so low. It is elevating someone based on mature, decent behavior, which should already be the baseline, especially for those seeking to serve in the House of Representatives.

We are at risk of making too much of this moment in entertainment and overlooking the fact that Crenshaw shares several policy stances with Trump, like the need to build an expensive and unnecessary border wall. Pundits are even using the “Crenshaw Method” label to describe his ability to defend Trumpian policy while walking a fine line with the more hostile rhetoric. It’s just a nicer, more pleasant version of instituting xenophobic policy so as not to draw attention to what you are doing, and in my opinion, it could be more dangerous than the obvious and brash technique Trump uses.

I appreciate the gesture—I really do—but for now, that’s all I’m going to call it. A gesture. I need action to back up intention, not words. So I applaud the graciousness and the humor in this time of such friction, but in the immortal words of Maya Angelou, “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.”

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