The ‘Success’ of Obama’s Trolling May Have Trump as Its Legacy, by Jonah Goldberg.
By inciting as much right-wing anger as possible, Obama helped lay the foundation for the Trump phenomenon.
One of the central insights of both the Obama campaign and administration (the difference is subtle but real) is that Obama benefits when his critics overreact. In 2008, then-political adviser David Axelrod coined the phrase “no drama Obama” to describe not only his client’s personality but his messaging. By seeming unflappable in the face of criticism, Obama comes across as presidential. The more heated the criticism, the more presidential he seems.
Obama is a troll:
The thing is, Obama often intentionally provokes the conservative base. As the Washington Post’s Paul Waldman put it in January 2015, Obama “seems to come up with a new idea every couple of weeks to drive [the GOP] up a wall.” That makes him a master at trolling.
For those still not up to speed with the lingo, “trolling” is an Internet term for saying outrageous things in order to elicit an even more outraged response. Or, as Urban Dictionary defines it, “The art of deliberately, cleverly, and secretly pissing people off.”
For instance, although ideology and policy no doubt play a role in Obama’s frequent refusal to use the phrase “Islamic terrorism,” he also seems to enjoy watching his critics shriek about it.
In late 2014, when Obama announced that he was going to unilaterally block the deportation of millions of undocumented immigrants in the country — after insisting for years that the Constitution wouldn’t allow him to do anything of the sort — many writers on the left and the right recognized that at least part of his strategy was to bait Republicans. Obama could have changed the policy quietly, without much fanfare. Instead, he sought to incite as much right-wing anger as possible.
Obama played a similar game with his birth certificate and the whole birther craze. He could have released his birth certificate as early as 2008, when the Mephistophelean Clinton henchman Sid Blumenthal was whispering in reporters’ ears. But Obama didn’t for years — in part because he knew the conspiracy theory would galvanize his base. It not only confirmed everything liberals wanted to hear about the Right, it also provided Obama with an endless supply of one-liners. And for a long time that worked well for Obama; he got to mock birthers and play the dignified victim.
Trump is a master troll, even better than Obama.