Donald Trump, according to the first three nights of the Republican National Convention, is a tireless worker, a peerless truth-teller, a champion of women, an open-arms anti-racist and a decisive leader who created the greatest economy in American history and marshalled the full force of the federal government to beat back the coronavirus. Under Trump’s orchestral baton, the program to this point has been defined by not just an unabashed busting of norms but a consistent and bald-faced recasting of reality.
On Monday, former United Nations ambassador Nikki Haley said Trump had “brought our economy back” when actually he inherited a solid economy from Barack Obama and monthly job growth slowed in his first year in office and then again last year. On Tuesday, White House chief economic adviser Larry Kudlow used the past tense to talk about the pandemic when actually the end is hard to see. And Wednesday, Kayleigh McEnany, the White House press secretary, said the president “stands by Americans with preexisting conditions” when actually his administration has sued to overturn the federal health care program that covers those people. Capping last night, Vice President Mike Pence proclaimed that Trump had stopped “all travel” from China at the outset of the outbreak, when it’s simply not true.
All of it has led to assessments that Trump and his surrogates are trying to “rewrite history.” And as commentators and fact-checkers have struggled to keep pace with the scores of speakers, people have puzzled over how he has managed to present a version of himself and his presidency that seems confoundingly at odds with the facts. How, they wonder, does he think he can get away with this?
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