Who Has It Worse: Donald Trump or Abraham Lincoln?
President Trump's recent decision to leave the White House for a town hall at the knee of Abraham Lincoln in the Lincoln Memorial revived once again a reminder that President Lincoln seemed to be as hated in his day as President Trump is today. Some would say President Lincoln was reviled even more than President Trump since Lincoln was blamed for the Civil War in which about 600,000 to 700,000 American soldiers died (compared to a projected 100,000 American citizens due to the coronavirus), whereas President Trump is merely blamed — whether fairly or not — for the manner of the fight against the coronavirus — against an enemy opposed by Democrats and Republicans alike.
Actually, some say President Lincoln was hated even more than President Trump, since President Lincoln made the ultimate sacrifice — he was assassinated — while President Trump merely suffers from character assassination — again, whether justified or not, and whether a president's character is as important as his actions or not. To date, there is no shortage of gruesome incitement against President Trump, but it has been limited to words and drawings.
Notwithstanding all of the above, an argument can be made that the blind hatred of President Trump, which has been diagnosed as Trump Derangement Syndrome, is even more invidious than the widespread hatred against President Lincoln in his day. This is so because the people who hated President Lincoln at least had rational reasons to do so — that many believed he was responsible for putting an end to their privileged way of life, on the backs of their slaves (inhumane, but rational from the point of view of the Southern slave-owners), and many believed that President Lincoln not only caused the Civil War, but also prolonged the Civil War because of some of the military decisions he made (again, possibly wrong but rational according to many military experts), thereby causing so many extra people to die.
The people who blame President Trump for the deaths caused by the coronavirus are more invidious because they base this on false and irrational premises.
- President Trump's critics say he did too little too late, even though most of the top scientific experts and Democratic politicians who criticize him continued to underestimate the severity and virulence of the virus long after President Trump put at least a partial ban on travel from China to the United States.
- President Trump's critics point out that the travel ban wasn't total even though it was imposed sooner than bans by most European countries.
- President trump's critics criticized even the partial ban as racist and xenophobic and by and large have not apologized.
- President Trump's failure to do more sooner to fight the virus was due at least in part to his having been misled by the same scientists, experts, and politicians who in hindsight turned around and accused President Trump of doing too little too late.
- Sweden's decision not to impose mandatory lockdowns at all resulted in lower death rates than five major European countries.
- Studies have shown that the cutbacks to the economies of countries throughout the world due to their lockdowns are leading to more deaths worldwide as a result of hunger than the deaths caused by the coronavirus,
- This is on top of the deaths caused by suicides due to the economic effects of the lockdowns and deaths caused by failures to be able to seek treatment for non-COVID illnesses.
- The president has not imposed his own guidelines on when to reopen, but (a) he deferred to the scientific task force to create guidelines; (b) he left it to the governors to decide how to apply these guidelines, and to which counties, and (c) he even criticized governors — including Republicans — who reopened their economies without meeting the requirements of the guidelines.
- The president has shown more sympathy for the 30+ million Americans who have lost their livelihoods (multiplied by the number of members of each such taxpayer's household) than most of the governors who have focused on ONLY the numbers of people who have succumbed to the illness, a ratio of 300+ to 1.
- The president is blamed for not sending enough ventilators to local governments, notably those controlled by Democrats in New York and other jurisdictions, that failed to replenish their supplies during health emergencies that used them up during the Obama administration.
All of these factors build on the fact that Trump Derangement Syndrome is based on lies fed TO an unsuspecting public by politicians and members of the media who certainly know better.
- It is absurd to call President Trump a xenophobe, considering he is a son of immigrants, and he married two immigrants, including his current wife.
- It is absurd to call him anti-Muslim for banning immigrants from countries that included non-Muslim countries and that excluded the most populous Muslim country on the planet.
- It is absurd to call him a misogynist, considering the many women he has consistently hired to important positions in his businesses and to represent him to the press and to the United Nations.
- It is absurd to call him anti-veteran, considering his build-up of the military and his providing more medical options to veterans. (He never insulted Khizr Khan, but only asked rhetorically why his wife wasn't given an opportunity to speak, thus making a statement on behalf of women.)
- It is absurd to call him anti-disabled based on some gestures he made at a press conference that he has been shown on video to have made whenever he insults people with whom he disagrees, including Senator Cruz when they were political rivals.
- It is absurd to call him anti-black, considering how he lowered blacks' unemployment rate more than any other president in history prior to the coronavirus, not to mention his close personal friendships with many well known black American politicians and celebrities.
- It is absurd to consider him anti-Semitic in light of the unprecedented support he has given the Israelis, not to mention his Jewish daughter and son-in-law who have unprecedented influence in his White House.
- And it is absurd to condemn a president for colluding with a country even after a report compiled by his political enemies failed to find any evidence of such collusion, and to condemn a national security adviser who was pressured under false pretenses by anti-American Stalinist tactics into a false confession.
We live in a free country. People are free to criticize President Trump. President Trump is free to exaggerate and to speak imprecisely and in an unpresidential manner, especially if done to counterattack statements made by a hostile unfair, unimpressed, and unimpressive press. Members of the press, politicians, and actors are free to express their opposition to the president's views, character, and demeanor. But nobody has a right to knowingly distort the truth in doing so.
Mr. Rich holds multiple graduate degrees but above all values his sense of fairness and common sense.
This article has been updated.