Donald Trump has many roles: cultural commentator, Twitter titan, reality show producer, kibitzer-in-chief, all intertwined with the job of running the country.
This has often been a strength, at times a weakness, and lately, with 23 Democrats vying to replace him, the megaphone is even louder.
Those who initially dismissed the significance of Trump lambasting the NFL over the anthem protests, for instance, failed to grasp how he uses hot-button programming, so to speak, to drive political messages.
And that relentless approach puts the president at the center of every national squabble and has engaged the country — both pro- and anti-Trump sides — in constant political debate. In short, Trump has become inescapable.
This approach shows his boundless energy, but his detractors find it exhausting. A woman at a Biden rally told liberal New York Times columnist Michelle Goldberg: "I don't want an exciting president. We have a lot of excitement right now, in a bad way."
At recent rallies and in tweets, Trump has said things like "Bernie’s crazy" and "Looks like Bernie Sanders is history. Sleepy Joe Biden is pulling ahead ... China wants Sleepy Joe BADLY!" He also said the Scranton native "deserted" Pennsylvania; Biden's family moved when he was 11.
Leaving aside whether all the swipes at Biden help the former VP, as some Trump advisers believe, Trump is inserting himself into the Democratic primaries in an unusually brazen way. With past presidents, maybe a spokesman would respond to opposition attacks and get one paragraph in a news story. Trump more frequently is the news story.
As The Washington Post points out, Trump has recently weighed in on such subjects as Jussie Smollett, fighting the Notre Dame fire and the Kentucky Derby, not to mention the Boston Red Sox and Tiger Woods (who of course got the Presidential Medal of Freedom). That's in addition to his usual fusillades against the witch hunt, attempted coup, "Crooked Hillary" and so on — or his branding Justin Amash a "loser" when he became the first GOP congressman to call for impeachment.
The upside for Trump is that he puts himself at the center of every conversation — and everyone else (including the Democrats) has to react to him. The downside is that he mainly caters to his base, which loves his finger-in-the-eye approach — without winning new converts.
The culture-war campaign may be necessary despite the fact that the economy is roaring, with the jobless rate at a half-century low. That usually spells easy reelection for an incumbent.
The New York Times suggests that Trump and the Republicans aren’t counting on the strong economy for 2020:
"President Trump and his top advisers sent mixed signals about a possible war with Iran. Mr. Trump outlined a hard-line immigration proposal that had little chance of passing, but refocused attention on the most incendiary issue of his presidency. His drumbeat about tariffs on China sent the stock market gyrating. And in Alabama, the Republican governor signed a bill that would effectively ban abortion ...
"Such divisive and destabilizing stands — driven by Mr. Trump’s political impulses and by emboldened conservatives — could end up alienating swing voters and could help Democrats."
On the other hand, Trump defied the experts and media geniuses by riding such grievances to the White House.
Whether it makes political sense for Trump to be such a ubiquitous presence in our everyday lives, that is who he is and it’s not going to change—unless you want to unplug from society.