After a raucous rally in Phoenix on Tuesday, filled with blatant dishonesty and attacks on the press and Republican officeholders, Donald Trump was set to speak to the American Legion in Reno, Nevada, on Wednesday. But anyone tuning in expecting to see the president come out with guns blazing was instead treated to a snoozefest: a workmanlike, respectful, even dull speech, appropriate to the occasion.
The divergence between the two appearances was so great that both The Washington Post and The New York Times spotlit it in stories Thursday morning. The Post’s Phil Rucker put the matter in terms of Trump’s former line of work: “Like a contestant on one of his reality TV shows, Trump has taken on contrasting personas, showcasing divergent traits with flourishes seemingly to survive another day of his beleaguered presidency. Or, as Trump the television producer might put it, to keep up the ratings.”
Needless to say, the president could not resist the chance to weigh in on the pair of stories:
The Fake News is now complaining about my different types of back to back speeches. Well, there was Afghanistan (somber), the big Rally.....— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 24, 2017
..(enthusiastic, dynamic and fun) and the American Legion - V.A. (respectful and strong). Too bad the Dems have no one who can change tones!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 24, 2017
It’s interesting to see Trump describe himself this way, because although he is widely believed to think hard about projecting a persona (or personas), he is rarely self-reflective in public.