Once in office, a different but still utterly unique mix of factors has enabled Trump to break the laws of political gravity, including the longstanding axiom that a deeply unpopular president cannot see his agenda succeed.
The president has been able to freeze his standing among Americans. If you look at where the polls have been over the last six months or so, the trend line looks like the brain activity of a patient who has flat-lined. His approval ratings have stayed within a 2-point range from May until now. The stories about Trump reaching “a new low” or “rebounding” look more like rounding errors than any meaningful movement, or the usual variation between different pollsters. For roughly four in 10 Americans, nothing Trump has said or done—not the insults, the White House chaos, the failure (so far) to achieve any of his biggest legislative goals, has mattered in the least. And if past is prologue, there is no reason to think his latest effusions, conspiracy theories and head-snapping denials of the patently obvious, will make any difference. At this rate, would anyone be surprised if the president actually tested one of his most famous theories about his popularity by wandering onto Fifth Avenue with a Smith and Wesson and shooting somebody?