Trolling is a fine art that requires both cleverness and swagger to correctly perform. Sadly for stale Democrat presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg, he has the trolling skills of a kindergartener. The evidence lies in how poorly he handled President Donald Trump’s trolling of him last week.
In an interview last Friday with Politico, the president mockingly dismissed the gay candidate’s 2020 bid and assigned him a nickname — and all in one fell swoop.
“Alfred E. Neuman cannot become president of the United States,” he pithily said.
Neuman is the boyish mascot and cover boy of Mad magazine. The president chose to assign the alias “Alfred E. Neuman” to Buttigieg because the two share a hilarious resemblance:
?President Trump was asked for an opinion of Democrat candidate Pete Buttigieg. President Trump responded with a one-liner:
“Alfred E. Neuman cannot become president of the United States.” ??? pic.twitter.com/rrssGSxNa3
— Michael Cornyn (@michael_cornyn) May 11, 2019
The 2020 contender and South Mayor responded soon after by trying to make what sounded like a joke about Trump’s age and also criticizing his ongoing trade war with China.
“I’ll be honest — I had to Google that,” he said. “I guess it’s just a generational thing. I didn’t get the reference. It’s kind of funny, I guess. But he’s also the president of the United States and I’m surprised he’s not spending more time trying to salvage this China deal.”
That was such a weak response that even Mad magazine got in on the trolling action.
“Who’s Pete Buttigieg? Must be a generational thing,” the 67-year-old magazine tweeted early Saturday morning in one of the most devastatingly brutal tweets of the year.
But there was more. The magazine also changed its profile description.
Here’s how its profile read as recently as April 30:
Here’s how it reads now:
Notice the difference?
“Historic comedy institution with Mayor Pete on the cover,” the description now reads.
That’s called successful trolling!
It appears Buttigieg’s fans didn’t appreciate the trolling too much.
— Carrie Stevens (@Carrie_Stevens1) May 11, 2019
They know it’s generational. Their bio literally reads “Still in print.” If you have to say that, you are aware your popularity has gone way down. This was just a way to get their name back out there.
— Jas (@RelaxedMomma) May 11, 2019
Lol, mad magazine trying to roast Pete Buttigieg. But when you go to @MADmagazine page it has to remind everyone that they’re “still in print”.
— El Manu (@ElManuCas) May 11, 2019
Siding with the angry septuagenarian crowd… comedy gold.
— Michele Feltman Strider (@HotGingerMess) May 11, 2019
Now, now. Don’t get defensive. I loved you as a kid. But you haven’t been relevant for years.
— Jim Mandelaro (@JimMandelaro) May 12, 2019
Buttigieg hadn’t responded to Mad’s trolling as of Sunday morning. Nor did he seem like he would, given as his own attempts at trolling tend to only inspire even more trolling from others.
The latest round of trolling originally began last Wednesday, when, while speaking at a rally in Florida, the president mocked Buttigieg, as well as 2020 candidates Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders.
“One of the Democrats said today, it’s a he, a sleepy person, that he heard from a lot of foreign leaders and they want him to be president,” he said of Biden. “Of course, they do! So they can continue to rip off the United States, of course. I think if I heard that, I’d never vote for him.”
“And then you have Bernie, he’s got some real beauties. Crazy Bernie. They have a choice between Sleepy Joe and Crazy Bernie. And I’ll take any of ’em, just pick somebody please and let’s start this thing,” he added, using his preferred nickname for both candidates.
“And then we have boot-edge-edge. Boot edge-edge. He’s got a great chance, doesn’t he? He’ll be great. He’ll be great representing us against President Xi of China, that’ll be great. I want to be in that room, I wanna watch that one.”
It’s unclear which nickname for Buttigieg that the president will ultimately stick with — “Alfred E. Neuman,” “Boot edge-edge” or something even better. You can rest assured he will pick something though eventually, since assigning nicknames to his opponents is a core component of his strategy.
“Trump believes that if you can encapsulate someone in a phrase or a nickname, you can own them,” a close reportedly close to Trump said to Politico. “Low energy Jeb, Little Marco, that kind of sh*t really diminishes people and puts you in control of them.”
“And that’s what Trump is a genius for doing. Everything in Trump’s world is about dominance and submission and so he’s trying to figure out how to own these candidates.”
It helps too that the president has plenty to show for himself — a booming economy, low unemployment, massive deregulation, the destruction of ISIS, etc. — whereas his opponents going into 2020 are all dealing with a slew of political scandals at the moment.
In Buttigieg’s case, he’s dealing with backlash for a widely panned decision in made as South Bend’s mayor in 2012 to demote then-Chief Darryl Boykins, the city’s first black police chief.
Soon after taking office as mayor in 2012, he was informed by federal investigators that they were investigating Boykins in a possible wiretapping scandal. Boykins was a well-liked and widely respected figure in the community. Buttigieg decided to keep the FBI information to himself.
Two months later, Buttigieg asked for Chief Boykins to resign, which he did. The backlash came quickly, as South Bend Common Council members criticized Buttigieg’s management style and expressed frustration that he had not told them of the investigation.
“To learn that Mayor Pete Buttigieg has known about a federal investigation taking place within the South Bend Police Department since January 2012 is truly disturbing, especially since … (the mayor) did not inform anyone on the South Bend Common Council about the investigation,” council member Oliver Davis said. “This shows a tremendous lack of respect and poor communication between the city’s administration and the South Bend Common Council.”
Learn more about that scandal here.
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