AP: Don't look now, but Trump might be ... winning

At least for the moment, the AP’s Jill Colvin observes, Donald Trump seems to be having the time of his life. The president has never been more available to the media, even offering what might have been unthinkable a few months ago — chatting up reporters in the private lounge in Air Force One. Trump spent 45 minutes on Fox & Friends, not an unusual venue but certainly a lot of time in an unstructured phoner. On top of that, he managed to have some fun with both the press and the entertainment industry with Kanye West’s Oval Office drop-in yesterday.

So what’s happening? Nothing bad, Colvin notes, and that’s remarkable in itself:

The president’s inclination to chat comes as Trump has been enjoying a spate of good news for his administration.

While the Russia investigation still looms and polls still predict major Republican losses in the House in next month’s midterm elections, Trump has been logging a series of wins, including appointing a second Supreme Court Justice to the bench and reaching an updated North American trade deal with Canada and Mexico. The stream of negative headlines that have been a constant presence through most of Trump’s administration, has abated — at least for a time.

“I think he’s having a lot of fun right now,” said former campaign adviser Barry Bennett.

“There hasn’t been a bad story in over week,” Bennett marveled.

That’s quite a difference from a few months ago, when the national media had painted Trump as practically isolated from reality and barely functional. That narrative depicted an angry, frustrated Trump, paranoid over Robert Mueller almost to the point of incapacity. Expectations soared that investigators would find enough evidence to push Trump into either resigning or being impeached, speculation that increased when Mueller’s team cut a deal with Paul Manafort.

And since then … nothing much has happened, except for the Brett Kavanaugh debacle. That drove everything else out of the headlines, including all of the minute developments on metastories that so far haven’t touched Trump. The economy has chugged along respectably or better, Trump won a victory in NAFTA renegotiations, North Korea hasn’t yet blown up, and most of all Trump played out the Kavanaughcalypse without backing down.

Now, with his base at least temporarily energized for the midterms, it’s no wonder Trump’s feeling on top of the political world. His isolation was greatly exaggerated in the first place, but there does seem to be a more relaxed approach and a renewed sense of enjoyment, too. His attitude toward reporters has definitely mellowed, at least temporarily, in person if not in rhetoric.

Or maybe Trump just feels most comfortable in campaign mode. Barack Obama exhibited the same enthusiasm for stumping, if perhaps a bit more consistent in presentation. Trump’s doing a lot of rallies for Republican candidates that center more on himself, and as the 2015-16 campaign showed, he gets tremendous energy from those events.

Put that in combination with a lack of bad press, even for a week, and it’s no real wonder why Trump feels he’s winning — it’s because he is, for now. After the midterms are over, that may change, but he’s making the most of it while he can.