His view of politics is unlike that of any president in modern times. Where other occupants of the Oval Office might go out of their way to avoid public fights with hurricane victims, popular athletes or members of their own team, Mr. Trump relishes them. He thinks they make him look strong. His base cheers him on. If the Twitter blasts leave collateral damage or inflame racial tensions or alienate his cabinet, those are trade-offs the president is willing to make in the quest to appear tough.

And he has an argument to make. While his campaign against National Football League players who kneel on the sidelines during the national anthem to protest racial injustice drew outraged protests from the sports world and Washington cognoscenti, Mr. Trump was lionized as a champion of patriotism in the conservative online world. Core supporters, who may have been upset at his bipartisan deal with “Chuck and Nancy” and his endorsement of Senator Mitch McConnell’s candidate in Alabama, rallied behind him by booing players, selling tickets or turning off their televisions.