For a guy who is purportedly stupid and lacking in nuance, President Trump yesterday masterfully trolled Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic Party while superficially supporting her. In just a few sentences, speaking to reporters prior to boarding Marine One, he took the high road, affirming that Nancy Pelosi is not a racist, gaining points as a healer. But at the same time, he aggravated existing tensions in the opposition party and pushed the ranks of Democrats into a circular firing squad formation, where their anger can be directed against each other. All in less than a minute and a half:
Trump expertly turns Ocasio-Cortez’s demand for respect against her. But that is just the prelude to his sophisticated troll of the speaker. By defending Nancy Pelosi, President Trump has — in the minds of Ocasio-Cortez and her allies — created an alliance between Nancy Pelosi and himself. Ace of Spades explains the twisted logic:
I mean, this proves Nancy Pelosi is a racist, right? That’s how it works. David Duke endorsed Donald Trump, which means, somehow, that Donald Trump also endorses David Duke by the Principle of Implied Reciprocal Endorsement.
This means that Nancy Pelosi must also endorse Donald Trump, and must reciprocally believe that Trump is not a racist.
By the Transitive Property, this means also that Nancy Pelosi endorses David Duke.
That’s how the Geometry of Racism works, at least for Republicans.
Now, what does Pelosi do? Does she express gratitude for Trump’s words of praise? That would make her problems with the radical faction of her party worse. But Pelosi is a woman of many years’ experience in politics (since childhood as daughter of Baltimore’s political boss, Tommy d’Alessandro), where reciprocity is the very essence of politics. Psychologically, she owes Trump one for this, yet any visible expression of this debt would harm her even more. It is a bit crazy-making.
I think Trump does this sort of thing intuitively. That’s what makes him a Master Troll: he sees the fault lines in the situations of his opponents and instinctively widens those tensions — organizationally and psychologically.