As the chaos in Afghanistan unfolded, people around the world were clamoring to hear from President Biden, who was on vacation at Camp David.
What they got in his absence was a steady drumbeat of statements from his predecessor, former President Donald Trump, who gleefully carped from the sidelines about the catastrophe.
More than a half-dozen press releases boiled down to one sentiment that Mr. Trump delivered in characteristic capital letters: “MISS ME YET?”
The man who blazed paths with his words in the White House is still at it, running perhaps the noisiest, rowdiest and wackiest ex-presidency in American history.
In slightly more than 200 days since he left office, Mr. Trump has fired off more than 400 statements and press releases through his Save America political action committee and his official office as the 45th president.
Targets include Rep. Liz Cheney (a “warmongering fool”); his own Supreme Court picks (“gutless”); his attorney general, William Barr (“RINO”); media outlets (Fox News, The Atlantic, The New York Times); Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell (“the most overrated man in politics”); Medina Spirit, a Kentucky Derby horse, (a “junky”); and the U.S. women’s soccer team (“leftist maniacs”) with a special emphasis on star player Megan Rapinoe (the “woman with the purple hair”).
His favorite topic has been the November election, the subject of more than 60 statements over the past seven months, as Mr. Trump pursues an unprecedented campaign to discredit the results that cost him the White House.
“Donald Trump has never been a traditional political candidate nor a traditional president. You’d expect that he’d be just as unconventional post-presidency,” said Jay Williams, a Republican Party strategist.
Mr. Trump started slowly, by his standards. His PAC released only a couple of statements in January and then a few more in February.
He started to pick up speed in March with 22 and April with 27. Then the floodgates opened, with more than 50 in May, nearly 80 in June and almost 120 in July.
Halfway through August, he is on the verge of surpassing 60.
Former President George W. Bush largely took a breather from politics after his 2009 departure. He said his successor, President Barack Obama, “deserves my silence.”
Mr. Obama took a more active role. In his first public statement roughly two months after leaving office, he defended his signature achievement: Obamacare.
He made his first post-presidency appearance in public in April 2017, when he participated in a town-hall-style discussion with young people on “community organizing and civic engagement” at the University of Chicago.
Mr. Trump’s name never crossed his lips.
Mr. Bush and Mr. Obama welcomed their successors to the White House, attended their inaugurations, wished them luck and then left town.
Mr. Trump skipped Mr. Biden’s inauguration. He issued his first press release seven days after leaving office — an attack on Ms. Cheney — and made his first post-presidency public appearance in late February at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Florida.
He struck at Mr. Biden early into his 90-minute address and mentioned the 46th president 39 times.
Mr. Trump also used the speech to lash out at Ms. Cheney and other Republican lawmakers who voted to impeach or convict him during his second trial in the House and Senate.
He told the crowd that he hoped to “get rid of them all” in the 2022 midterm elections. The story was similar at campaign-style rallies in Ohio, Florida and Arizona. He griped about the “RINO” state lawmakers in Michigan and Pennsylvania who refused to fully embrace his claims of a stolen election.
“He has his own way and his own voice,” said Mr. Williams, the Republican Party strategist. “I do think his reach will wane over time, but as long as the press keeps attacking him, he’ll continue to be relevant and supported by Republicans, even if just out of plain spite for the media.”
H.W. Brands, a historian at the University of Texas at Austin, said the closest parallel to Mr. Trump is Theodore Roosevelt, who left office in 1909.
“He was quite ungracious as a former president, assailing President Woodrow Wilson on matters relating to World War I in a tone that might have had him jailed for sedition if he hadn’t been a former president,” Mr. Brands said. “Trump puts his own distinctive spin on things, but the phenomena are similar.”
It’s likely no coincidence that Roosevelt ran again in 1912 against his chosen successor, William Taft. He had become increasingly dissatisfied with the Taft presidency and launched what proved to be a failed third-party bid to reclaim the White House.
Mr. Trump, too, is eyeing a return engagement, and he is doing it without direct access to the social media platforms that he wielded to launch and sustain his political career.
The tech companies’ blockade has only slightly muted his voice. The former president’s statements, posted by journalists and shared by millions of users, still penetrate deep into the social media conversation. Even the cable TV networks that have expressed disapproval of the former president’s behavior devote coverage to his words, further expanding his reach.
The New York Times calculated that an Oct. 8 tweet from Mr. Trump deriding Mr. Biden and running mate Kamala Harris for “constantly” lying was liked and shared more than 501,000 times.
Months later, after his ban from social media, Mr. Trump put a statement on his website that said he handed Mr. Biden the most secure border in history, only to have his successor turn “national triumph into a national disaster.” That statement was liked and shared 661,000 times, the newspaper reported.
A large portion of Mr. Trump’s post-presidency tweets compared his record with Mr. Biden’s on immigration, the COVID-19 pandemic, federal infrastructure spending, taxes and Afghanistan.
As Afghanistan plunged into chaos, Mr. Trump said Mr. Biden should “resign in disgrace.”
“The outcome in Afghanistan, including the withdrawal, would have been totally different if the Trump Administration had been in charge,” he said.
He spoke out months after he pressed the Biden administration to stick with his plan for a May 1 troop withdrawal and credited himself for making it possible.
“Nineteen years is enough, in fact, far too much and way too long,” he said. “Getting out of Afghanistan is a wonderful and positive thing to do.”
Mr. Trump’s score-settling has targeted former allies and sports icons who have crossed him.
Mr. Trump said Vice President Mike Pence showed a lack of courage in certifying the election results. He said Gen. Mark A. Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, “ought to resign.”
He said former House Speaker Paul D. Ryan is “a curse to the Republican Party,” former Bush adviser Karl Rove is “a pompous fool” and former National Security Adviser John R. Bolton is a “failed warmonger.”
He said Dr. Anthony Fauci is the “King of flip-flops” on the coronavirus and “couldn’t throw a baseball even close to home plate” in a ceremonial opening pitch.
He said basketball player LeBron James is presiding over the demise of the NBA and that “His RACIST rants are divisive, nasty, insulting, and demeaning.”
He said he has “gotten to know (and like)” North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un. He said his supporters should “stick with Kirstie Alley!” and defend former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Guiliani, whom he dubbed the “Eliot Ness of his generation.”
He repeatedly touted his iron grip on the Republican Party, endorsed candidates across the country and said he deserves more credit for COVID-19 vaccines.
He congratulated Nigeria for banning Twitter after the country deleted a post from President Muhammadu Buhari and wished everyone a happy Father’s Day, “including the Radical Left, RINOs, and other Losers of the world.”
He also found time to issue statements from his perch as a former president promoting his golf course in Scotland as “the best in the World” and said it was not chosen to host the Open Championship “because they consider a wonderful person, and many-time Club Champion, named Donald J. Trump, to be too controversial.”
“This is, of course, a false reputation caused mainly by the Fake News Media,” he said. “It is a shame that the phenomenal Turnberry Golf links, the best in the World, sits empty during Open Championships, while far lesser courses are on display.”
“Oh well, life proceeds forward!” Mr. Trump said.