Clearly frustrated with the slow pace of legislating in Washington and his treatment by the national media, President Trump returned to what works for him: campaigning.
Trump reprised all his campaign's greatest hits at a rally in Arizona, a state he won both in the Republican primaries and the general election, patterned after the raucous, free-wheeling events he held while running for president last year.
As he frequently did during the campaign, Trump vented to the crowd about the things vexing him about the media and Washington. He was especially outraged by the characterization of his reaction to the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va., in which he was said to be treating racists as morally equivalent to the counterprotesters.
"The only people giving a platform to these hate groups is the media itself and the fake news," Trump thundered, as the crowd engaged in anti-CNN chants. The president did say, "Fox has treated me fairly ... And Hannity, how good is Hannity?"
While Trump stopped short of doing any of the most controversial things some expected he'd do in his Phoenix speech — such as endorsing a primary challenger to Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., or pardoning former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio — he came close on both counts.
Without mentioning him by name, Trump called Flake "weak on borders and weak on crime." Flake is up for re-election next year, one of only two vulnerable Republican incumbents. For good measure, Trump took a thinly veiled shot at Arizona's other GOP senator, John McCain, who is recovering from cancer treatments, for casting the key vote against a last-ditch Obamacare repeal effort.
"If he could have done that to the Democratic senators in the states he won last year, we might be in business right now," said a Republican strategist who requested anonymity to speak candidly about the president.
Trump also hinted he might pardon Arpaio, the controversial border hawk sheriff facing prison time for charges related to alleged racial profiling of Hispanics, at some point in the future.
"I don't want to do it tonight because I don't want to cause controversy," he said during the rally. "But Sheriff Joe can feel good."
Trump blasted the Democrats as "obstructionists" and called on Republicans to get rid of the filibuster so that they could more easily pass legislation with just 50 votes plus Vice President Mike Pence. "We have to speak to Mitch [McConnell]," he said of the Senate majority leader with whom he has feuded. "And we have to speak to everybody."
"We have some great Republican senators," Trump allowed, indicating they "fought like hell" to repeal and replace Obamacare. The healthcare bill ultimately failed because Republicans couldn't muster 50 votes for a bill, much less the 60 currently required to break a filibuster. But Trump alluded to regulatory changes that couldn't be made under reconciliation, allowing for greater competition among insurers across state lines, that could have won additional GOP votes.
At the same time, Trump suggested he would pull out of the North American Free Trade Agreement just as re-negotiations are starting. He also expressed a willingness to shut down the government over border wall funding. "If we have to close down our government, we're building that wall!" he exclaimed.
But Trump's biggest vitriol was saved for the journalists he believes treat him so unfairly. And just as he accused Hillary Clinton of libeling his supporters with her line about the "deplorables," he said the media's real targets were his voters.
"The media can attack me, but where I draw the line is when they attack you," Trump said.
"You always understood what Washington, D.C., did not," he told the crowd. Our movement is a movement built on love. It is love for his fellow citizens who have been left behind, love for every American child who deserves a chance to have all of their dreams come true."
"I think he confuses campaigning with governing," David B. Cohen, professor of political science at the University of Akron, told the Washington Examiner shortly after John Kelly became White House chief of staff. "They're completely different skill sets."
At one, Trump excelled — campaigning, as he frequently reminds us. Governing is still very much a work in progress.