Trump, the Historian?

So last week, America was treated to the pageantry of President Trump’s Independence Day celebration, a “Salute to America” as interpreted and produced by the only person capable of handling such a tremendous job — Donald Trump.  

His original vision was to stand on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial as he reviewed a passing parade featuring America’s military might. His inspiration was a parade he witnessed on the Champs Elysees in Paris for Bastille Day. (I bet he would have really been envious of those parades Stalin used to throw.)  

Unfortunately for the president’s plans, the projected costs, logistics and potential street damage forced him to settle for marching men, military bands and aircraft flyovers. A few stationary tanks were, however, delivered on flatbed trucks to the podium location – not exactly creating the drama Trump had in mind. 

Of course the highlight of President Trump’s patriotic presentation was going to be his speech. And as it turned out, his 45 minute address, read from a teleprompter, was relatively uneventful. Unlike his usual style, the president didn’t use any of his time at the microphone to talk about himself, attack perceived enemies or spread outrageous lies. Quite refreshing. 

However, at one point his words did conclusively reveal that our nation has the weirdest (or at least most confused) leader in the western world. It was when President Trump spoke of how General George Washington and his brave Revolutionary Army crossed the Delaware “and seized victory from ‘Cornwallis of Yorktown,’ as our army manned the air(space?), it ‘ranned’ the ramparts, it took over the airports, it did everything it had to do. And at Fort ‘McKendry’ (wrong war, wrong name) under the rockets’ red glare it had nothing but victory.” 

At that moment, anyone paying attention to the words the president was saying might have been alarmed that he was having a stroke. For Donald Trump to speak of George Washington’s Revolutionary War army taking over Cornwallis’ airports in 1775, more than one hundred years before airplanes existed, is disturbing. Is he that ignorant? Or does he even hear the words that come out of his mouth? – And does he care? 

Later Trump brushed the whole incident off as a problem with the teleprompter. Seriously, if you were reading aloud from a book about the Civil War and you thought you saw words that said, “General Grant pursued General Lee in his Jeep,” would you pause before uttering those words. Or if the type was illegible, would you ad-lib with the word, “Jeep?” I don’t think so. 

I’ve since read one analysis of what happened, written by a teacher who has worked with kids that have a severe reading disability. She wasn’t speaking of dyslexia. It was more problematic. The words on a page don’t even register in the reader’s brain. She opined that this might be why President Trump reads from a teleprompter slowly, one word at a time. And why he refuses to be burdened with reading reports of any length from his staff, who now know to severely limit the size of any reports they put in front of him. — He literally can’t read them.  

I know that is all conjecture. There may be another explanation for Trump’s disinterest in written information. Perhaps it’s simply that Donald Trump is an extremely lazy man. Or he has a tiny attention span. Or his narcissism finds little value in words that aren’t about him or his interests. 

But I’m betting the schoolteacher’s explanation is closest to the truth. I believe Donald Trump has never mastered the ability to read. And someone so poorly equipped to study and understand the written word, shouldn’t be sitting in the Oval Office. It’s actually quite dangerous. 

So on that gloomy note, what can we do right now to make the future of our United States a bit brighter? I guess the first thing to do is not give up hope for better things ahead.  

We should view last November’s election successes as just the beginning for turning the page. — We should continue to show strong support for all the Democrats from our region that we’ve sent to congress. And as our state goes through some substantive changes, we must stay firmly behind our Democratic state legislators too. The excellent people we’ve elected locally to our state legislature should give us cause for optimism. This also applies to some of the County officials we’ve helped elect. Reform is in the air for every level of government. 

The point is to stay engaged. So, I’ll end this with three pleasant suggestions for engagement that actually don’t require any effort beyond eating, drinking and talking. (I suppose two of the suggestions also could also include some bargain shopping.) 

Check out the events listed just below this essay: The Winnetka Sidewalk Sale on Friday, July 19 and the Wilmette Summerfest & Sidewalk Sale on Saturday, July 20 are two opportunities for political conversations at the New Trier Dems’ table. There will also be information there from Democrats we’ve helped elect. (Some may stop by at any time.) 

And mark your calendar now for Monday, July 22. The New Trier Democrats’ Annual Meet & Greet will once again be held at Avli Restaurant in Winnetka. There won’t be any political speeches, but there will be lots of candid conversations with a number of our Democratic office holders. The drinks are good. The food is delicious. And the discussions should be inspiring.

Nels Howard, NTD Member Since 1973