It may seem silly now, but politics wasn’t always fueled by vindictiveness and spite. All of that changed, of course, when America elected the forty-fourth president’s #1 troll to be his successor.
Whether in his policies—where any law or bill enacted by President Obama is targeted for overturning, no matter how beneficial—or his mocking tweets and sub-schoolyard nicknames, Donald Trump has ushered in an era that prizes pettiness over anything else. There are thousands of examples of his tendency to dunk on his enemies, but here’s just one from yesterday. After CNN commentator Chris Cuomo was captured on camera ranting at a heckler, the president took time out from his day to use the recent El Paso massacre as a framework for dunking on him and is now selling t-shirts further clowning on Cuomo.
One consequence of a world in which this administration is a day-to-day reality is that the opposition appears to be nearly as obsessed with getting in petty digs whenever possible as well. If people have little recourse to pressure Trump into governing the way they want, at least they can try to get under his skin. Trolling the president is now practically an American pastime, with some efforts more successful than others.
Here are a pair of notable troll moves against the president that have emerged in the past day.
— Julián Castro (@JulianCastro) August 13, 2019
Democratic presidential candidate Julián Castro made the above ad, in which he states in no uncertain terms that the president’s rhetoric around immigrants has an impact on people like the El Paso killer. This is a fairly standard claim among Democrats and people who can perform rudimentary math, but here’s where the troll part comes in. Castro paid $2,775 to make sure the ad ran on Fox News in Bedminster, New Jersey, where the populist president is scheduled to play a midweek game of golf at one of his many private golf clubs. While the odds of the president actually seeing the ad are at least 50/50, the odds of it provoking any kind of consequence beyond a(nother) presidential tweet smack-talking Castro are considerably lower. Plus, John Oliver already did the same thing last year.
Perhaps more successful in terms of pure pettiness is the latest petition related to the president that’s currently circulating.
Over 85,000 sign petition to rename street by Trump Tower after Obama.
— PIX11 News (@PIX11News) August 14, 2019
The MoveOn.org petition is asking Mayor de Blasio and the NYC City Council to rename the stretch of Fifth Avenue where Trump Tower is located in Midtown Manhattan “President Barack H. Obama Avenue.” Elizabeth Rowin, the woman who started the petition, told Newsweek that she started the petition as a joke. However, more than 100,000 people have since signed it, which means the joke has metastasized into something that some New York City Council members are signaling they could get behind. Considering that the petition is popular enough that Trump will probably now hear about it, Rowin’s gambit is an unqualified success. When all that constitutes a victory is making your opposition hopping mad, tangible results have a sliding scale.