President Donald Trump continues to shock (with little awe) as the second 100 days of his term of office begins. To mark the milestone, Trump gave interviews this past weekend that present an alternative view of some history “facts” and show why listening to him and his merry White House band is like watching a real-time “Drunk History,” minus the liquor and actual entertainment.
In the “Drunk History” television and web series, an ever-changing cast and inebriated narrator reenact and attempt to explain aspects of U.S. history. In Trump’s version, he tweets and spouts altered and sometimes inexplicable explanations that put an emphasis on the HIS-story part of historical facts. His nonsensical historical comments are exemplified by his musings on Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln being a Republican to his repeated mantras that former President Barack Obama was not U.S. born and wiretapped him. Then, there is Trump’s stated belief that “there is no reason there’s not peace between Israel and the Palestinians — none whatsoever.”
His latest his-story lesson was about former President Andrew Jackson and the American Civil War. Trump was interviewed for Sirius XM after visiting Jackson’s Tennessee home, the Hermitage. He mentioned that Jackson is still popular with the people in his home state. Then, Trump suggested that, if Jackson had been in office later, the Civil War.
The Storyteller in Chief then reported that Jackson was really angry about “what was happening with regard to the Civil War. He said, ‘There’s no reason for this.’” Trump then said that people do not “ask that question … why was there the Civil War? Why could that one not have been worked out?” Yes, Donald, the issues that divided the union were not nearly as easy as health care!
Trump’s assertion makes no sense. Jackson could not have been angry about “what was happening with the Civil War.” He died in 1845, more than a decade before the war started in 1861). If he was referring to the run-up to the war, Jackson was involved in the South Carolina Nullification Crisis, which many view as a precursor to the Civil War could have been avoided.
The current president seems to downplay that the big issue that led to war was about the unwilling immigrants and their descendants in the South. As Chelsea Clinton pointed out on Twitter– and Fox News published– the war started because of slavery. Then, Clinton added that, “When Andrew Jackson died in 1845 (16 yrs before the Civil War began), he owned 150 men, women and children.”
Jackson’s attitude towards slavery is not the only reason to question Trump’s belief that he “had a big heart.” Jackson was also known for the 1830 Indian Removal Act that forcibly relocated of Native Americans from their homes (in slave states) westward to the Indian Territory in Oklahoma. Many died along the way making the so-called “Trail of Tears” perhaps the most ignominious Jackson legacy.
Maybe Trump took history at his fake university. He clearly did not take it (or at least pass it with any learning) at somewhere accredited. He also does not read widely (if at all). Other Oval Office occupants perused books about predecessors, other world figures, historical events, etc. Trump has never indicated he does any bedside reading besides perhaps his ratings and Breitbart News. Perhaps that explains his love of Twitter – because then he does not have to read anything that contains more words than “The Cat in the Hat.”
Maybe he really does know the facts, but just garbles them. If so, it might be time to worry that the memory and factual lapses or cognitive problems indicate something more than “Animal Farm” or “Being There” coming to life.
Another controversial U.S. billionaire, Mark Cuban, proffered a different theory for Trump’s following. On CNN, Cuban postulated that Trump’s appeal is “political chemotherapy.” People who voted for him know he is toxic and not up to his job, which surprised him by being hard. Cuban’s theory is that things in the D.C. swamp got so bad that people wanted to send a poisonous presence. Hopefully Trump’s love of spouting “Drunk History” alternative facts will not destroy U.S. history’s view for the ages. That thought is too sobering.
By Dyanne Weiss
CNN: Donald Trump just gave two incredibly bizarre (and fact-free) interviews
CNN: Mark Cuban just coined a brilliant term to describe Donald Trump
Reuters: Highlights of Reuters interview with Trump
The Hill’s 12:30 Report, May 1, 2017
Fox News: Trump’s Civil War comment draws fire
Washington Post: Trump’s totally bizarre claim about avoiding the Civil War
Comedy Central: Drunk History
Photo courtesy of Gage Skidmore’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons license