Time after time he relives past battles as an old warrior who is consumed by the struggles he has already fought, offering a glimpse of a personality that is built on conflict, the pursuit of an enemy and an insatiable quest for personal victories.
But Trump's refusal to let go of the past is also a political trick. He used the endless personal battles to raise his base and give them something to unite. The fiefdoms offer a definition for his life, his business, his 2016 campaign – where he chose a golden generation of Republican candidates one by one – and now his presidency.
The president mocked the Vietnam War hero, loosely for being "the last in his class," and rebuked him for voting against a Republican bid to repeal Obamacare.
Trump can rarely leave "Crooked" Hillary Clinton alone – apparently not content to defeat her in the 2016 election.
"The $ 40,000,000 commissioner should now position himself," Trump said in a tweet earlier this season.
The president, for example, criticized Sessions as "another beauty" in a tide storm against senior Justice Department officials in February.
And he never gives up his duel with reporters, whom he called "enemies of the people."
Trump also has his foreign targets and returns to them again and again. He feeds a particular grudge by German Chancellor Angela Merkel – but any US ally he deems free from American generosity is especially prone to scolding.
Never let go
Although Trump condemned the attacks on Friday, he dismissed questions about a worrying increase in white supremacist groups and offered no direct empathy to Muslims – raising new questions about his history of anti-Muslim rhetoric.
However, the president's fiery disputes are only one area in which opinion about him is irrevocably polarized.
Trump's base never had much time for McCain – even if taking potshots on a dead war hero might seem inappropriate.
The "lock their corners" ringing through Trump rallies express the opinion of their defenders about Clinton.
Indeed, Trump's endless battles, while making him unfit for the job in the eyes of critics, are exactly the kind of politically incorrect behavior that made him so popular with his followers in the first place.
Those Americans do not believe that Trump is on a mental cliff or that his frenetic and self-obsessed tweeting makes him unfit for the presidency.
One lesson from the last three years in politics is that media indignation and elite opinion in cosmopolitan cities not only fail to weaken the president but often strengthen it – a reason why he chooses the struggles he makes.
Not all audiences interpret Trump's outrageous flights in the same way.
After an expansive attempt to discredit special lawyer Robert Mueller, facilitated by the conservative media, Trump can isolate himself to some extent from the outcome of the investigation in Russia.
His weekend attacks on the administration and unions linked to the closure of a GM Ohio car plant could be seen as gross presidential interference in the affairs of a private company. But the fact that the president is so obsessed with the issue on a Sunday afternoon may be interpreted by others as evidence that he worries about honoring a campaign promise to reinvigorate US manufacturing.
"In many cases – I'm not saying in every case – he's saying many of the same things that people are talking about in their neighborhoods, around their dining tables, in their drinking fountains," said Marc Lotter, Strategic Communications . director of Trump's campaign for 2020 on CNN.
"And that's why he's connecting with people," he said.
The all-time presidency of Trump's fight certainly works with Americans who like him the most. Although the cycle of constant conflict is one of the reasons why its re-election is far from secure, even with cruising economy and unemployment as low as it has been in the past 50 years.
Conservatives are likely to be less concerned than Trump's opponents about his condemnation of the New Zealand attacks, which he called a "horrible massacre" in "holy places of worship," without condemning the extremism of white supremacy that seems to have been the trigger. .
It does not seem like reaching the Muslims after the attack will hurt him with the base as well.
For much of the weekend, however, it seemed that Trump had slipped into a trap in the Oval Office on Friday when he told reporters he did not think white supremacist movements were a growing problem around the world.
His comment triggered a global torrent of criticism and critical media coverage.
But if Trump's intention was to make sure he did not get far ahead of his base, he might have been the only one out of the trap – still standing on the side of a confrontation with the media, probably to solidify his base.
"Fake News Media is working too hard to blame me for the horrific attack in New Zealand, they have to work hard to prove it, so ridiculous!" Trump tweeted Monday.
However, Trump's strategy – constantly fueling the more inflammatory political instincts of his base to solidify his position – carries risks.
A more popular rival than his former training partner, Clinton, and a more energetic Democrat base could make his road to re-election even narrower.
If so, governing by fief might have been a big mistake.