The purpose of history in the Age of TrumpRoundup
tags: history, impeachment, Trump
Daniel W. Drezner is a professor of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and a regular contributor to PostEverything.
President Trump sent quite the letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Tuesday, expressing his “strongest and most powerful protest” against impeachment. That quote, however, makes the letter seem more coherent than it actually is. The New York Times’s Michael Shear described it as “irate and rambling.” Politico’s Natasha Bertrand characterized it as “replete with grammatical errors, odd capitalizations and language rarely seen in official White House documents.” Imagine Frank Costanza’s Airing of Grievances for Festivus, but with more lies, damned lies and exclamation points, and you get the gist.
You can read the full rambling text here. What grabbed my attention was a part toward the end, where Trump acknowledges that he’s about to get impeached but explains, “I write this letter to you for the purpose of history and to put my thoughts on a permanent and indelible record.” He warns, “One hundred years from now, when people look back at this affair, I want them to understand it, and learn from it.”
The hard-working staff here at Spoiler Alerts thinks it’s fantastic that Trump is suddenly expressing an interest in history. History is important, and until now Donald Trump had not demonstrated much interest in the subject. In 2016, Trump told The Washington Post’s Marc Fisher that he had never read a single biography of a president and had no intention to do so in the future. His visits to the National Museum of African American History and Culture and Mount Vernon did not go very well. Sure, he knows that Abraham Lincoln was a Republican and that Frederick Douglass is being talked about more and more, but beyond that, Trump’s knowledge of the past is barren. An interest in history is new for him!
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