Trump’s public admonishment of pilots held as prisoners of war… in North Vietnam is described by his campaign as “misunderstood” or “taken out of context.” The blowhard with no military experience said this- “He’s a war hero because he was captured, I like people who weren’t captured.” Far from an endorsement, this was a sneer at a political opponent with far more credibility on defense and foreign policy issues.
John McCain and his comrades were heroes for their sacrifice… enduring torture at the hands of their captors- never betraying their duty to country under the most arduous circumstances. Trump has no concept of this kind of heroism, the selfless kind. In Trump’s world, heroes play sports or close deals for personal gain. He sees the medals and ribbons awarded in the military, but the motives of the recipients utterly eludes him.
Trump would consider Jeremiah Denton a coward too… Denton was put on display in a North Vietnamese propaganda film produced for the International Red Cross. Forced to recite a script, Denton was able to blink the word T-O-R-T-U-R-E in Morse code to get the true message to the world. Captain Denton had been in prison so long, his own son had grown up, served in Vietnam, and come home. Denton was the first POW off the plane in 1973, and his words ring true to this day:
“We are honored to have had the opportunity to serve our country under difficult circumstances. We are profoundly grateful to our Commander-in-Chief and to our nation for this day. God bless America.”
Donald Trump dodged the draft during the Vietnam war... but this will have little effect on the millions who support him. In Trump’s world, bluster passes for merit, talk is substitute for service. Yes, student deferments were draft dodging- especially when exercised by upper-class children of privilege.
A clear difference
Medical exemptions were every bit as dishonest… and Trump used one when his stint in graduate school came to an end. In July 1968 he was physically fit- three months later(as his deferment ended) he was suddenly afflicted with “heel spurs.” Rich kids from coast to coast found sympathetic doctors to conjure up various maladies. Poor kids and men of conscience went to war.
Only in Trump’s world is he a hero… and John McCain a coward. Obviously overcompensating for his cowardice, Trump disparages the real article while selling his fraudulent goods to unwitting followers. Bill Clinton was mercilessly attacked by Conservatives for his activities during the Vietnam war….where are they now?
General Zachary Taylor was playing it cool… during the campaign of 1848. Both political parties of the day were seeking his candidacy, but he was not willing to commit;
“It is to me a matter of perfect indifference whether I am even elected [as president] or not. I do not intend any party shall use me as a convenience; if dropped I intend to stand aloof, & let Whigs and Democrats [use] this matter in their own way….”
I believe in slavery, maybe…
A substantial slave owner and southerner… Taylor was expected to support the slave owning interests in the Democratic party. Again, Taylor was playing the pragmatist…even hinting at support of the Wilmot Proviso(banning slavery in the Mexican Cession.) Taylor’s political views were at best ambivalent, at worst, an utter mystery.
“The Wilmot Proviso will shake that body to its center…but I hope some compromise will be entered into between the two parties slavery & anti slavery which will have the effect of allay[ing] violent passions on both sides, which will have the effect of perpetuating…or shortening the Union….”
2016 will bring a new President, and thus, new Presidential rankings….
History is constantly evolving and changing…. so is this list.
Can’t we all just get along?
George W. Bush ^ : Loathed by modern “progressives,” any historian worth his/her salt should have suggested patience. Presidents must not be judged immediately following their terms, nor soon after elections. Many of Bush’s policies are now being viewed as successful- see the Surge, and TARP. Despite the vitriol still spewed by his critics, W’s historical stock is rising.
Civil Rights Rube…
LBJ v : Recent release of Oval Office recordings revealed Lyndon Johnson at his worst. Modern depictions of him in films like “Selma” have also cast doubt on his civil rights legacy. No other President has experienced this sort of roller coaster ranking, and this year appears to be a straight drop for “Landslide Lyndon.”
Dwight Eisenhower ^ : Soon to be memorialized on the National Mall, Ike is liked once again. Historians are beginning to appreciate his cool demeanor and bipartisan political record. The current Republican party should do some soul searching when viewing its current obsession with ideological purity.
v : The recent uproar at Princeton over the racist legacy of its most famous history professor has everyone reconsidering our view of the Progressive champion. Proper scrutiny is now being leveled against Wilson’s policies- many of them created as a result of his distrust of the Constitution and disregard for the Declaration of Independence.
Friends and rivals
The American experience has always been built on experimentation… Our very existence doubted by most of the world, the optimism of Thomas Jefferson became essential to the survival of our republican experiment.
As the election of 1796 loomed… the friendship between Jefferson and John Adams waned. Jefferson reminded his friend of their experiment:
“I am aware of the objection to this, that the office becoming more important may bring on serious discord in elections. In our country I think it will be long first; not within our day; and we may safely trust to the wisdom of our successors the remedies of the evil to arise in theirs. Both experiments however are now fairly committed, and the result will be seen. Never was a finer canvas presented to work on than our countrymen…. This I hope will be the age of experiments in government, and that their basis will be founded on principles of honesty, not of mere force….If ever the morals of a people could be made the basis of their own government, it is our case.” Jefferson to Adams, February 28 1796
Congress calls for Women’s History Museum… new site to be chosen along National Mall
Capitol dome restoration completed… Project cost nearly $60 million
University of Virginia President not allowed to quote its Founder… hubris on display in Charlottesville as modern academics think they know better.
Historians prepare to assess Obama legacy… not a difficult task considering he was already labeled “smartest ever to hold the office.”
Brooklyn Historical Society preserves artifacts… letters, photographs, and diaries mark Brooklyn’s history in the war.
If you can’t quote Jefferson…
We have never elected someone as dangerous as Donald Trump? … Thomas Jefferson commenting on the candidacy of Andrew Jackson in 1824. Sound familiar?
He is dangerous
“I feel much alarmed at the prospect of seeing General Jackson President. He is one of the most unfit men I know of for such a place. He has had very little respect for laws and constitutions, and is, in fact, an able military chief. His passions are terrible. When I was President of the Senate, he was Senator; and he could never speak on account of the rashness of his feelings. I have seen him attempt it repeatedly, and as often choke with rage. His passions are, no doubt, cooler now; he has been much tried since I knew him, but he is a dangerous man.” Thomas Jefferson
He is ignorant, passionate, hypocritical, corrupt and easily swayed by the basest men who surround him –