Today Donald Trump drew widespread backlash for asking “Why was there a Civil War?” and saying Jackson would have stopped it if he had “been a little bit later.” Jackson died in 1845. The Civil War began in 1861.
Veteran newsman Dan Rather tried to stay quiet, but he couldn’t.
I wanted to let this story go. I really did. I don’t want to be distracted from all the important things taking place. Where are we on the Russia investigation again?
But the sheer craziness of this obsession by Donald Trump with Andrew Jackson and the Civil War is a carnival act unlike anything I have ever seen at the White House. And not to let something drop, there is Mr. Trump on Twitter just recently pouring gasoline on the fires of his ignorance.
Nevermind that Mr. Trump’s knowledge of American history seems below that of most grade schoolers. Nevermind that Jackson is not exactly the kind of president, or man, you would want to hold up as an example.
And nevermind that there is an implicit criticism of arguably our greatest president, Abraham Lincoln. (It reminds me of his slam against John McCain and how war heroes aren’t captured. Apparently great presidents don’t wage a war to keep the Union together).
These are the rantings of someone who really should be focused on the job of governing. Should we not conclude that he approaches policy decisions with the same half-baked conspiracies with which he apparently approaches history?
To be President of the United States is to part of the great American story. To not understand that story is to not understand the presidency. Maybe Frederick Douglass can give Mr. Trump some advice. Apparently, he’s “an example of somebody who’s done an amazing job and is getting recognized more and more.”