Trump doesn’t know much about history

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tags: Trump



James Hohmann is a national political correspondent for the Washington Post.

THE BIG IDEA: Donald Trump believed he could convince China to pressure North Korea to stop its nuclear activities. Then President Xi Jinping tutored him on the history of the region.

“After listening for 10 minutes, I realized that it’s not so easy,” Trump told the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday, recounting the session at Mar-a-Lago. “You know, I felt pretty strongly that they had a tremendous power over North Korea. But it’s not what you would think."

This comment is funny because, in 2011, Trump claimed that he has read “hundreds of books about China over the decades,” including works by Henry Kissinger, American journalists and Chinese novelists. Looking to do more business with Beijing, he provided a list of 20 books about China to Xinhua, the official Chinese news agency, that he said had helped him understand the country, its politics and its people. “I know the Chinese. I've made a lot of money with the Chinese. I understand the Chinese mind,” Trump said six years ago. His listhad some surprising titles on it, including “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother.”

Color me skeptical that Trump has read anything by Amy Chua.

-- Even if he has, the fact our president needed an introductory tutorial on Sino-Korean relations to understand how hard it is to contain Pyongyang is just the latest illustration of one of his blind spots: He and his inner-circle have very little sense of history.

-- It is a cliché, but there is truth to it: Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

Donald Trump makes a dramatic entrance from inside the Lincoln Memorial during a "Make America Great Again" concert the night before his inauguration. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post) 

-- Trump has committed several small but memorable faux pas since the inauguration:

He mentioned Abraham Lincoln during a fundraising dinner for the National Republican Congressional Committee last month. “Most people don't even know he was a Republican,” Trump said. “Does anyone know? Lot of people don't know that!” (Most likely, every person in the ballroom knew and has attended at least one Lincoln Day dinner.)

On Lincoln’s birthday in February, Trump tweeted out an obviously fake quote from the 16th president: “In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count, it's the life in your years.” He later deleted it....




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