Thursday, May 18, 2017 1:45 PM
Humankind has a pretty long history—even the special case of United States history, alone, is a pretty thick almanac of ups and downs, bests and worsts—centuries of heroism and villainy, celebrity and infamy, achievement and catastrophe.
When Trump says ‘Never before in history…’, he does not speak as an historian. He is using the phrase ‘in history’ as a synonym for ‘very’. He is not merely being (laughably) ignorant when he claims his historical superlatives—he is also, subliminally, undermining the concept of history as meaningful archive. For Trump, a meaningful archive is a threat—evidence of the past.
For an old wheeler-dealer like him, the point of mistakes is to get people to forget about them—to gloss over any negatives and make that sale, close that deal—and move on to new sales, new deals. But for an elected official, the point of mistakes is to investigate them—to scour the records. It would be odd indeed if Trump were a history enthusiast—most of his mistakes have been made before.
But me—I am a history enthusiast—and Trump offends me on many levels, not least of which is his pretense of scholarship:
“This is the single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history.” – D. Trump
“No politician in history, and I say this with great surety, has been treated worse or more unfairly…” – D. Trump
These are professorial wordings, usually used by someone who isn’t pulling facts out his or her ass—Trump uses the words of intellectual rigor, as if to give his bullshit respectability.
Getting down to cases: Mandela spent decades in prison before becoming South Africa’s president. Lincoln and Kennedy were both shot in the head. Hitler and Mussolini were ridiculed in Charlie Chaplin’s “The Great Dictator” so ruthlessly that the government tried to block its release in theaters.
If we want to talk history—Donald Trump may have a claim to being the biggest pussy ever to take office—as far as his other historic deeds go, we’ll have to wait until after the investigations to say with any real ‘surety’.