“So many mistakes were made (in the run-up to the war). See, there was something I think could have been negotiated, to be honest with you,” Trump said. “I think you could have negotiated that.”
Lincoln’s failure to match wits with the secessionists would not have been repeated by Trump, is the Trump opinion on the Civil War. A man who could nearly operate a few casinos in New Jersey before declaring bankruptcy could have avoided the Nation’s quarrel over slavery with the sheer force of his business acumen. Trump also suggested that Lincoln would not have the same historical cachet “if he negotiated it.”
So, Lincoln staged the conflict for the free publicity, in the mind of Trump. That is why Trump would have done it, of course, and ascribing our own motivations to our rivals, even historical ones, is a common human error. It’s all the more surprising, then, that there are so many parallels between the public statements of Trump and of Lincoln. Consider this:
LINCOLN: "With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in.”
TRUMP: “You should all stay in those voting booths. You should stay there and watch it. If you see bags of crap coming into the voting areas, you’ve got to stop it.”
The sentiments expressed here are almost identical, especially if Lincoln had used “bags of crap” instead of “None” and “All.” “"With malice toward these bags of crap, with charity for all these bags of crap” etc., Lincoln could have approached the eloquence of Trump, and burnished his place in history. But the guy on the five-dollar-bill hid behind indefinite pronouns.
LINCOLN: “If we do our duty we shall succeed in the congressional election, but if we relax an iota, we shall be beaten.”
TRUMP: “RIGGED AND STOLEN!”
Again, the neutral observer is struck by the ability of Trump to cut to the chase instead of concealing his message in lofty rhetoric. Did Lincoln really deserve to have a whole car division at Ford Motors named after him, one wonders?
LINCOLN: “To the support of the Constitution and Laws, let every American pledge his life, his property, and his sacred honor.”
TRUMP: “A Massive Fraud of this type and magnitude allows for the termination of all rules, regulations, and articles, even those found in the Constitution.”
At first glance, these statements imply entirely different understandings of the Constitution by Trump and Lincoln. At second glance, they do as well. At third look…well, you get the picture. Just a couple more quotes by both men, which I will refrain from remarking on:
LINCOLN: “I never despair of sustaining myself before the people upon any measure that will stand a full investigation.”
TRUMP: “WITCH HUNT!
LINCOLN: “It is an old and a true maxim, that a "drop of honey catches more flies than a gallon of gall.'' So with men. If you would win a man to your cause, first convince him that you are his sincere friend.”
LINCOLN: “But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not hallow -- this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract.”
It is the historians that will judge the relative Presidencies of Lincoln and Trump, of course, and no doubt they are booting up their word processors with gleeful anticipation at the work ahead. Mr. I Have a Monument vs. Mr. I Have a Golf Course in New Jersey And One in Scotland, too? It is bound to be a controversy that echoes down the ages.
To which Lincoln already belongs. And so, hopefully very soon, will Trump.