The two conventions now assembling have diametrically opposite strategies, caused by their differing political needs.
Donald Trump is in trouble because of how he acts.
Hillary Clinton is in trouble because of what she's done.
The goal of the Republican Convention is to show Trump acting presidential yet passionate. Well-informed yet focused on key issues. Dignified but also determined. The goal is to show Trump as those of us who know him well know him to be. (My father was his lawyer.)
The Democrats have the opposite problem. Their job is to counteract the negative opinions of Clinton almost two-thirds of America has formed. Having spent a year trying to make Clinton appear honest, trustworthy, likable and human, they are admitting failure and are settling for disguising her candidacy behind a series of generic masks.
Clinton isn't running. The first woman is running. And it's really Bill Clinton who is running as part of the package. It's not Hillary Clinton's candidacy that is at stake but abortion rights and gun control and climate change and immigration and religious tolerance. They are dressing Clinton up in the costume of issues so that it is not she who is front and center but rather the issues and the changes she represents.
So the Republicans are trying to feature Trump while the Democrats are trying to bury — or at least disguise - Hillary Clinton.
Each party may succeed or fail in its mission. But one thing is certain: It is easier to change how you act than to change what you have already done in the past. And that is Donald Trump's key advantage.
Photo credit: Cornell University Library