Politico finally figures out Trump and his supporters.
They get the joke.
For Trump and his defenders, a little gentle self-mocking does more than just warm up a room. It can neutralize his opponents’ attacks. And it can let Trump off the hook even when he probably isn’t joking, as when Marco Rubio argued last month that Trump was only kidding when he declared that China should investigate Hunter Biden.
But it’s most powerful when it makes his supporters feel that they’re in on Trump’s jokes in a way the establishment isn’t. In a sense, this effect is an extension of the 2016 campaign formulation, likely coined by GOP strategist Brad Todd and popularized by Peter Thiel, that Trump’s supporters “take him seriously, but not literally.”