No, it's not his "base" Trump was thinking of on Tuesday, and he wasn't trying to appeal to them. Trump is a true believer, just like his friend and advisor, Steve Bannon:
On Tuesday night, while Gary Cohn was fuming about President Trump's latest comments, Steve Bannon was excitedly telling friends and associates that the "globalists" were in mass freakout mode.
Today, Bannon reveled in the disbanding of the president's business council, seeing this as yet more evidence that the Trump administration is at odds with the "Davos crowd," as Bannon often calls these corporate elites, in a voice dripping with contempt.
Bannon saw Trump's now-infamous Tuesday afternoon press conference not as the lowest point in his presidency, but as a "defining moment," where Trump decided to fully abandon the "globalists" and side with "his people."
Per a source with knowledge: "Steve was proud of how [Trump] stood up to the braying mob of reporters" in the Tuesday press conference.
You can't slip a piece of paper between them now:
Bottom line: Both Trump and Bannon are of one mind, and, within the White House at least, theirs is a minority view. They saw the backlash to Charlottesville as an example of political correctness run amok and instinctively searched for "their" people in that group of protesters. Bannon has told associates that Trump, on Tuesday afternoon, took it to the next level for the country by asking where does it end? He especially loved Trump's line: "I wonder, is it George Washington next week?"
And Bannon thinks this is a winner for him:
“The Democrats,” he said, “the longer they talk about identity politics, I got ’em. I want them to talk about racism every day. If the left is focused on race and identity, and we go with economic nationalism, we can crush the Democrats.”
Of course, "economic nationalism" doesn't mean much if you can't get anything passed into law. As there is no evidence either Trump or Bannon know how to do that, I think focussing on race and identity is going to fill up the vacuum left by a complete lack of legislative accomplishment.
No matter; Bannon is a super-political genius, a legend in his own mind:
“We, our booking team—and they’re good—reached out Republicans of all stripes across the country today,” [Fox News' Shep] Smith said. “Let’s be honest, Republicans don’t really mind coming on Fox News channel, we couldn’t get anyone to come and defend him here, because we thought in balance somebody should do that”Ya kinda need those people to take any action of "economic nationalism." Talking about vanquishing your White House enemies really won't get you very far:
“We worked very hard it throughout the day, and we were unsuccessful,” he added.
“You might think from recent press accounts that Steve Bannon is on the ropes and therefore behaving prudently. In the aftermath of events in Charlottesville, he is widely blamed for his boss’s continuing indulgence of white supremacists,” Kuttner explained. “But Bannon was in high spirits when he phoned me Tuesday afternoon to discuss the politics of taking a harder line with China, and minced no words describing his efforts to neutralize his rivals at the Departments of Defense, State, and Treasury.”
Then again, that depends on where you're trying to go:
Good news for President Donald Trump. There is one former presidential candidate standing with him today.” Jake Tapper said during his opening monologue on Wednesday’s installment of The Lead. “The bad news is, it’s David Duke.”A point ex-CIA director Brennan made, in a note to Wolf Blitzer, who lost his grandparents in the Holocaust:
“Today, former presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush issued a statement condemning racial bigotry, anti-Semitism and hatred,” Tapper said. “They were joined by the chiefs of staff of the Army, the Navy, the Marine Corps, the Air Force and the National Guard.”
“We have freedoms in the country so klansmen and Nazis, they can think their ugly thoughts and spew their hideous words and they have the right to peacefully assemble,” Tapper said. “But to act as if these defeated, intellectually destitute, pathetic ideologies and people have any moral standing as they rally to intimidate and vomit forth their treasonous filth, it is not only immoral, it’s unpatriotic. It’s un-American.”
“I just want to extend my sympathies not only for their deaths but also to you and your family–and countless others–for the pain inflicted today by the despicable words of Donald Trump. Mr. Trump’s words, and the beliefs they reflect, are a national disgrace, and all Americans of conscience need to repudiate his ugly and dangerous comments,” Brennan wrote.
“If allowed to continue along this senseless path, Mr. Trump will do lasting harm to American society and to our standing in the world,” Brennan predicted. “By his words and his actions, Mr. Trump is putting our national security and our collective futures at grave risk.”
Yup; race and identity; who really cares about that?
Bannon and Trump love having enemies to vanquish. They think it means they're winning. This is the correct answer to John Judis's question* of why Trump hasn't moved to the center to govern. Trump isn't interested in governing. Trump is only interested in being Trump, and driving his enemies before him, and listening to the lamentations of their women. Is this, as Judis suspects, Trump's second childhood?
I don't think Trump ever left his first one.
*and honestly, the effort to excuse Trump's toxic ideas as something other than simple racism, is practically a form of racism itself. The President is a racist. Even Seth Meyers sees it.