How Lincoln's disdain for demagogues pricks Trump's Fourth of July pomposityRoundup
tags: Lincoln, presidential history, Trump, Sidney Blumenthal, 4th of July
Sidney Blumenthal is the author of All the Powers of Earth 1856-1860, the third of his five-volume biography, The Political Life of Abraham Lincoln, to be published in September by Simon & Schuster.
Donald Trump is orchestrating his Fourth of July extravaganza to be his most spectacular act of self-flattery, his first appearance on the National Mall since his inauguration but before a certifiably larger crowd and ending with a burst of fireworks.
He has always given careful thought to his staging. His introduction to The Apprentice, driven to the thumping beat of For the Love of Money, showed the master of the universe striding from a limousine at Trump Tower, riding in a Trump helicopter and climbing the ramp of a Trump airplane. Now, however, he will display himself on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. With the illuminated statue of the 16th president as his backdrop, Trump will highlight the magnitude of his own greatness by standing in reflected glory.
Or maybe Trump thinks it’s the other way around and he, not Lincoln, will be the radiant one.
Since becoming president, Trump’s estimation of Lincoln has declined even as his estimation of himself has inflated. In 2017, Trump was willing to concede that Lincoln was the greatest president, saying: “With the exception of the late, great Abraham Lincoln, I can be more presidential than any president that’s ever held this office.” By the next year, he had eclipsed Lincoln in his mind, proclaiming: “You know, a poll just came out that I am the most popular person in the history of the Republican party. Beating Lincoln. I beat our Honest Abe.” (Of course, there were no polls in the 19th century.) Then, this year, bringing the Boston Red Sox into the Lincoln Bedroom, according to the Red Sox chairman, Tom Werner, Trump “was talking about Abraham Lincoln losing the war, and he said I know you guys lost a game or two but this was a war”.