Trump’s Increasingly Weird Attempts to Compare Himself to LincolnRoundup
tags: Abraham Lincoln, presidential history, Trump
Sidney Blumenthal is the author of “All the Powers of Earth: 1856-1860,” the third of his five-volume biography “The Political Life of Abraham Lincoln,” and a former adviser to President Bill Clinton and to Hillary Clinton.
Of all the Presidents who preceded Donald Trump in office, the one he most often measures himself against is Abraham Lincoln. Time and again, Trump has compared himself favorably to the sixteenth President, boasting, for example, that his poll numbers are higher—although, of course, there were no polls in the nineteenth century. He has belittled Lincoln, explaining that he nearly lost the Civil War to Robert E. Lee, the Confederate general whom Trump speaks of with reverence. He pins positive clichés about Lincoln on himself, pointing out, as if no one else knew it, that Lincoln was a Republican, just like Trump, and honest, just like Trump.
Last week, on the evening of the day that his acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, held a press conference in which he blunderingly acknowledged a quid pro quo in Trump’s phone call with the President of Ukraine (“Get over it!”), Trump travelled to Texas for a campaign rally in Dallas. After the advance team led the crowd at the American Airlines Center in singing “Y.M.C.A.,”Trump emerged and said, “I am thrilled to be here deep in the heart of Texas, where we just opened a beautiful new Louis Vuitton plant.” Then he began attacking his opponents in the Democratic Party: “crazy” Nancy Pelosi, “shifty” Adam Schiff, “corrupt” Joe Biden, and “very dumb” Beto O’Rourke. “We’re fighting a campaign against leftists, socialists, and globalists,” Trump said. “The radical Democrats want to destroy America as we know it.” If these opponents are allowed to have their way, he said, there will be “no guns, no religion, no oil, no natural gas.” Then Trump delivered his biggest blow: “Abraham Lincoln could not win Texas under those circumstances.”
“Couldn’t do it, couldn’t do it, Ted,” Trump said to Senator Ted Cruz, who had introduced him. “Couldn’t do it, Louie,” Trump said to Representative Louie Gohmert, who represents a district in East Texas. “Abraham Lincoln, Honest Abe, couldn’t do it, Louie, right?” The Lincoln that Trump conjured for this scenario—a bizarre one even by the President’s standards—was transmuted into a leftist-socialist-globalist-radical-Democrat. That was the Lincoln who would have lost. Trump is apparently ignorant of history and gleefully contemptuous of facts, but this time he was partially right. Not only did the real Lincoln fail to win Texas, he didn’t get a single vote there—not because he was a radical but for the simple reason that, in 1860, his name was not allowed on the Texas ballot. Nor was anyone from the Republican Party, commonly called the “Black Republican Party” throughout the South in that era. In fact, in an act of pure voter suppression, Lincoln and the Party were not on the ballot in ten Southern states.
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