The best way to understand Donald Trump’s presidency is this: He views himself as the producer and star of a daily reality show, a show in which the only connection from day to day is the presence of Trump himself.
Any attempt to connect the dots — from a policy or strategic perspective — between yesterday and today or even from month to month — is a fool’s errand; Trump does what he wants, generally speaking, every day. If he latches on to something he thinks is working, he, like a good reality TV show executive, does more of it.
And, of late, Trump has moved into an even more high-profile starring role — even as he steps up his producing involvement as well.
Which brings me to the last few weeks — in which Trump is leaning very hard into his dual role as producer and star.
Beginning in late September with his press conference at the United Nations general assembly meetings in New York, Trump has been on a streak of campaign rallies, impromptu press chats, media interviews and staged events seemingly designed to draw buzz and attention as opposed to drive any sort of broader message.
Take this week alone.
On Monday night, Trump held a ceremonial swearing-in for Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. It amounted to a televised celebration of Trump and what he has done in office. The President spoke for 20 minutes about how he and Senate Republicans had beat back the liberal horde who were trying to defeat Kavanaugh. When Trump turned things over to Kavanaugh, the newly-minted Supreme Court Justice effusively praised Trump for his “steadfast, unwavering support throughout this process.”
On Tuesday, as news was breaking that UN Ambassador Nikki Haley was resigning, Trump held an open-press conversation between himself and Haley — in which she, you guessed it, praised him repeatedly. “She’s done a fantastic job and we’ve done a fantastic job together,” Trump said in response. “We’ve solved a lot of problems and we’re in the process of solving a lot of problems.” The event was carried in its entirety by all the cable networks. (We also later learned that Trump had held a kind-of, sort-of press conference featuring his vice president and chief of staff — among others — for New York Magazine reporter Olivia Nuzzi. Trump’s goal? To convince Nuzzi that chief of staff John Kelly wasn’t on his way out.)