It took more than 20 months of Donald Trump being president, but today, Republican House Majority Leader Paul Ryan stated what's long been obvious: the President of the United States is a troll.
House Speaker Paul Ryan characteristically laughed off concerns about President Donald Trump revoking the security clearances of his political opponents Tuesday, dismissing the president’s actions as just “trolling.”
“I think he’s trolling people, honestly,” the Wisconsin Republican said, chuckling at his own answer.
Rightwing trolling—or "owning the libs"—has become a favorite conservative strategy in recent years. In Seattle last week, for example, a young man from Illinois got a brief moment in the backlash-to-the-backlash spotlight after getting accosted for proudly wearing a MAGA hat.
Yesterday, Nikki Haley, Trump's ambassador to the United Nations, warned against this strategy / lifestyle / political crutch.
Speaking to a bunch of students at George Washington University who'd proudly raised their hands to signal they'd done things to "own the libs" online, Haley said:
I know that it’s fun and that it can feel good, but step back and think about what you’re accomplishing when you do this — are you persuading anyone? Who are you persuading? We’ve all been guilty of it at some point or another, but this kind of speech isn’t leadership; it’s the exact opposite...
Real leadership is about persuasion, it’s about movement, it’s bringing people around to your point of view — not by shouting them down, but by showing them how it is in their best interest to see things the way you do.
Given that Haley works for the proudest conservative troll of them all, she might consider directing this advice upward. As The Washington Post reminded her today, pulling stunts in order to "own the libs" is "basically Trump's entire political strategy."