When we’re in public, most of us follow social conventions that govern what we do, what we say and, in general, how we conduct ourselves.
Supporters of President Donald Trump, however, want voters to believe that Trump is just the opposite. They spent much of the Republican National Convention trying to convince Americans that the man we see in public is not nearly as nice or considerate as the private Donald Trump.
Washington Post columnist Kathleen Parker explained it this way: "The new message was that the Trump we don’t see working behind the curtain is a much kinder much gentler guy than anyone knew. Accurate or not, the stories may have had the desired effect of humanizing him while diminishing the idea that Democrats are the ‘decency’ brokers."
The theatrics we saw from Republicans and Democrats as they staged their conventions underscore the reason that TV and news media should stop treating political conventions as news events. They are nothing more than weeklong TV commercials.
These grand marketing schemes are used to create warped, inaccurate portrayals of the nominees. That was especially true of Trump, as fact-checkers wore out their fingers refuting a steady stream of falsehoods.
Voters could draw a more accurate picture of the president by simply paying attention to — and checking — what he himself tells us day in and day out.
Consider this January 2020 tweet: "The farmers are really happy with the new China Trade Deal and the soon to be signed deal with Mexico and Canada, but I hope the thing they will most remember is the fact that I was able to take massive incoming Tariff money and use it to help them get through the tough times!"
The president expects farmers to be grateful that they needed a handout, largely made necessary because he wrecked the trade relationships the United States had around the world.
And for what? Agricultural exports are down for the year, and the overall trade deficit hit a 12-year high in July, according to federal reports.
As part of a tweet storm over Memorial Day weekend, the president told the nation: "… I played golf over the weekend. The Fake & Totally Corrupt News makes it sound like a mortal sin — I knew this would happen! … They are sick with hatred and dishonesty. They are truly deranged! They don’t mention Sleepy Joe’s poor work ethic, or all of the time Obama spent on the golf course …"
That same week, the president also retweeted personal insults about female Democratic politicians and shared a video proclaiming the "only good Democrat is a dead Democrat." Trump also warned America via Twitter "when the looting starts, the shooting starts."
A few days ago at a campaign rally, Trump offered his opinion of Kamala Harris, the Democratic nominee for vice president: "People don’t like her. Nobody likes her. She could never be the first woman president. She could never be. That would be an insult to our country."
According to polls aggregated at the conservative website RealClearPolitics, Harris has higher favorability ratings than Trump.
Stories from the convention’s scriptwriters notwithstanding, this is a president who has revealed his character through his own words again and again. The whining, the dishonesty, the sophomoric insults, the self-aggrandizement, and the self-pity — it’s who he is.
A native of Garden City, Julie Doll is a former journalist who has worked at newspapers across Kansas.