It feels good to call Trump a moron, but in this case it's wishful thinking

It feels good to call Trump a moron, but in this case it's wishful thinking

President Trump at Jackson's mansion The Hermitage in March, laying a wreath at his tomb. PHOTO: Larry McCormack, The Tennessean

President Trump at Jackson's mansion The Hermitage in March, laying a wreath at his tomb. PHOTO: Larry McCormack, The Tennessean

Call him the 'odd' communicator

Parsing the strange connection Trump made between Andrew Jackson and the Civil War


On Monday, SiriusXM published a blog post in advance of the release of journalist Salena Zito's interview with President Donald Trump, in which he appeared to not know that President Andrew Jackson died 16 years before the Civil War began.

“I mean, had Andrew Jackson been a little later you wouldn’t have had the Civil War,” Trump said. “He was a very tough person, but he had a big heart. He was really angry that he saw what was happening with regard to the Civil War, he said ‘There’s no reason for this.'”

It's incomprehensible that even someone who is not as intellectual as most of our past presidents would not know important details about a man he admires and seeks to emulate. And it's also incorrect.

In fact, in March when he layed a wreath at Jackson's tomb, he was quoted in the Tennessean as saying the following:

"Andrew Jackson was the people's president and his election came at a time when the vote was finally being extended to those who did not own property," Trump said.

According to the Tennessean, "Trump said Jackson didn't want government corruption. He expanded benefits for veterans and battled financial powers that bought influence at the expense of citizens, Trump said. And the current president said Jackson imposed tariffs on foreign countries to protect American workers."

"That sounds very familiar — wait till you see what's going to be happening pretty soon, folks," Trump said. "It's time."

The Tennessean continues:

"Andrew Jackson was a military hero and genius and a beloved president, but he was also a flawed and imperfect man, a product of his time," Trump said. These remarks undoubtedly refer to the fact that Jackson owned slaves.

"It is the duty of each generation to carry on the fight for justice," he said. "My administration will work night and day to ensure that the sacred rights which God has bestowed on his children are protected for each and every one of you, for each and every American. We must all remember Jackson's words that in the planter, the farmer, the mechanic and the laborer we will find muscle and bone of our country. So true."

On Monday, National Public Radio asked Morning Edition host Steve Inskeep, who wrote a book about Jackson in 2015, for context around his remarks. Inskeep wasn't calling Trump a moron.

We can tweet, as Chelsea Clinton did today, about the obvious reason for the Civil War, and how Trump is a moron for not knowing the reason it was fought. We can write articles about how Trump doesn't know when the Civil War was fought, or why. But we would be misleading our readers, and most importantly, we would be missing the point.

The point is, we should be used to the fact by now that Trump communicates in an odd manner, to say the least. Or we could call it imprecise. But when the dust settles, there's usually something to his puzzling remarks. So if we're going to treat every utterance as a gaffe, then we'd better get used to these for a long time. But if we really want to understand him, then we should start investigating a little deeper. Because if we don't, we will continue to underestimate this man.

In the case of the Civil War, he most likely wasn't talking about the obvious reason it started. He was probably talking about the hidden reason behind why all wars get to the point of killing, instead of negotiating a settlement and averting war. Yes, it's possible he is completely insane, and just foams at the mouth. But given his previous statements about Andrew Jackson, and about war, and about negotiating, I'm going to bet on my first guess.

Now admittedly, negotiating the emancipation of slaves, in the face of hostile slave owners, would have been monumentally challenging. But still, that is probably what Trump was talking about. 


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