Donald Trump foolishly compared himself to President Abraham Lincoln on national television. As Trump sat in front of the iconic Lincoln Memorial this weekend one thought came to my mind instantly. I have never before seen Trump look so small. Trump was looking so desperately for credibility. It was not a good hunt to be on in front of the nation. (This was the Dukakis in a tank moment for Trump.)
It was embarrassing to watch as Trump demonstrated he did not have any sense of history concerning our nation’s most important leader. (President George Washington was vital in that he limited his time in office, but Lincoln showed the world a democratic nation must not be allowed to self-destruct. If the United States could not make this system of government work, which then could, he asked?)
Trump said during the television interview that, “They always said Lincoln. Nobody got treated worse than Lincoln. I believe I am treated worse.”
Lincoln was assassinated. But listening to Trump it seems he is far more troubled by being asked for accountability for his actions! He is so put upon, he feels, to be asked to act like an adult, and discard his boorish behavior.
The differences between Lincoln and Trump are massive.
For instance, Donald Trump’s name adorned the first casino in America to have an in-house strip club. He is the first American president to have made a cameo appearance in a soft-core pornography film, and he has called his struggle to avoid sexually transmitted diseases while sleeping around his “personal Vietnam.”
One can see from those points alone that Lincoln’s at times bawdy jokes do not add up to the poor decisions and absence of morality that shapes Trump’s life.
But here is the largest difference between Lincoln and the diminished figure who sat in front of Lincoln.
When Lincoln traveled to Gettysburg he did so not only as a military Commander-in-Chief but also as the President of the people of the United States. Such a mission required that he be more than a military tactician and instead search for the larger meaning of the battle and the horrific number of dead and speak to the people. The battle had taken place in July and as Lincoln spoke in the fall there were still bodies piled and covered in lime powder. His words were short but never forgotten. They have resonated more over time than when he spoke them but there was no doubt he was one with the people who he served as their leader.
Trump has had many. many hours in front of the media during this pandemic pontificating and blowing verbiage about. He has not been able to address with empathy the loss of life or convert heartfelt feelings to the families and friends of those who have died due to the lack of actions during his watch.
Lincoln saved the country. Lincoln ended slavery, which was the central issue of the war. Lincoln gave his life to his country. Lincoln was not a schooled man in the traditional sense, but was a genius with men and governing.
All Trump had to offer the nation was his self-pity, and it was embarrassing to watch. It was just one more chapter in a pathetic example from his time in office. When the interview was over it was clearer than ever what is, and what is not, a great president.
Lincoln made the point by holding his place in the history books, as always.
As for Donald Trump there is only one thing to say. Trump is no Abe Lincoln.