From the New York Times:
Over the weekend, Mr. Trump, while with a small group of advisers in the dining room of his golf club in Bedminster, N.J., asked a few members what they thought of his attack on Mr. Kaepernick. The response, according to one Trump associate, was polite but decidedly lukewarm.
Mr. Trump responded by telling people that it was a huge hit with his base, making it clear that he did not mind alienating his critics if it meant solidifying his core support.
Mr. Trump is seldom at a loss for motives in picking a public fight, and conflict seems to soothe him in the way that it unnerves others. He loved getting a rise from the players and owners who linked arms in solidarity before Sunday’s slate of football games, aides and associates said. His satisfaction was blighted only by the disapproval expressed by his friend Robert Kraft, the owner of the New England Patriots.
The president’s provocations are a real-time expression of his emotions in the moment and his feel for a crowd. More than anything, such fights are a reflection of his focus on what it takes to keep his restive populist base behind him, and a ritual of self-preservation intended to divert attention from other, more damaging narratives.
Trump keeps bouncing back and forth between the mob mentality that he thinks elected him and his own arrested development that seemed to have peaked when he was in junior high school.
He just can’t help himself. These past weeks demonstrate that he lacks the maturity to exercise the kind of judgment and control that is required of an adult to get by in a civilized world. People without this kind of self-control and aren’t allowed to be police officers or operate heavy machinery. Somehow, though, we don’t have that kind of test for the presidency. Perhaps that’s because in the last 200 years, we haven’t needed to question whether or not the freely-elected leader of our nation is a grown-up.