Trump is the weakest of presidents in 140 years

tags: election 2016, Trump

Sidney Blumenthal is the author of A Self-Made Man 1809-1849: The Political Life of Abraham Lincoln, Volume 1 . Wrestling With His Angel 1849-1856: The Political Life of Abraham Lincoln, Volume 2 will be published in May by Simon & Schuster.

... The Great and Powerful Trump is the weakest and most vulnerable president in at least 140 years. Behind the scowl and the curtain there is a diminished man who cannot shake off the circumstances surrounding his election.

Before Trump, only four men became president without winning a plurality or majority of the popular vote. Only one lost a greater percentage of the vote than Trump. Three of them served only one term. Three assumed office under clouds of illegitimacy.

Each of these presidents, raised to the office against the popular will, was marked by the defect of their election. None evaded the debility of their unpopular elections. Either they were so politically hampered they lacked credibility and could do little, or else they tried to defy their original sin by governing as though they had solid mandates and disintegrated.

In 1824, all the presidential candidates were of the same party, the Democratic-Republican Party. Senator Andrew Jackson of Tennessee won the most votes, 41 percent. Secretary of State John Quincy Adams won 31 percent. Congressman Henry Clay of Kentucky had 13 percent, while Secretary of the Treasury William Crawford won 11 percent.

The election was thrown into the House of Representatives. Clay supported Adams, who became president, and Adams named Clay as secretary of state. Jackson and his followers claimed the outcome was the result of a “corrupt bargain.”

Adams, who was the son of the second president, the most experienced and distinguished man of his age, a visionary with far-reaching plans to benefit the country, never recovered from the accusation that arose from his loss of the popular vote.

Of all the presidents who lost the popular vote, John Quincy Adams towered over the lot as a man of conviction and foresight, but when he asserted himself he only made himself vulnerable. Adams did not believe himself to be invincible, but felt driven to perform what he believed to be his proper duty. It crippled his presidency and four years later Jackson won in a landslide. ...

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