Trump’s Gettysburg Address Shows He's No Lincoln
Imagine, if you can, Abraham Lincoln announcing at Gettysburg that he was going to sue all the lying women who have accused him of sexual assault. But this was indeed Trump’s pronouncement in his speech on the hallowed ground of Gettysburg, which Trump mispronounced as “hollowed” as he read it from his Teleprompter.
This speech, his last major policy statement and his “First-100-Days-in-Office” plan was a combination of his usual assaults on the failure of all American institutions, his attacks on the corrupt and lying American press, and his argument that Hillary is an illegitimate candidate because she should have been prosecuted for crimes and never been allowed to run. He accused the FBI for its failure to go after her.
Once he had finished his usual litany of attacks he got down to what he would do in his first 100 days in office. Let me begin by saying this “first 100 days” stuff is nonsense no matter who uses it. All modern presidents, including Hillary, have used it as a wish list but it is all window-dressing. It hasn’t worked since it was first used effectively by Franklin Roosevelt when the nation was in the midst of the Great Depression. He wanted to show that he could take quick action to address the dire economic straits of the nation. Some of that legislation was later declared unconstitutional. FDR’s initiatives flew through Congress because he had a Democratic majority behind him with good support from Republicans too. He, and Congress, had five months to prepare for some of this legislation because this was the time between the election in November and the inauguration in March. (This lame duck period was shorted by the 20th Amendment to the Constitution.)
Trump’s 100-Day plan, I swear, was written for him by Newt Gingrich. If the speech was not wholly written by Newt, then it was at least edited with Newt in the room. Newt had a “Contract with America” that was classic window-dressing but it did help win a Republican majority in the House in the 1994 election. Newt always liked lists. You have to say you have five things or ten things you want to do. This shows you are a person who thinks things through. People like to see lists, Newt said. So Trump had all his items listed in good Newt fashion and Trump called it his “contract” with the American people.
The titles of the legislation Trump plans to immediately introduce all have Newt-sounding names. One was the Restoring Community Safety Act. Who can be against that title? And who can be against supporting local police? But we don’t know the details since the bill is not written. He suggested that it would aggressively go after gangs, the American variety and the undocumented immigrant variety. Another bill: Cleaning Up Corruption in Washington DC Act needs no explanation. His followers already believe everyone inside the Beltway is part of a corrupt elite. Then there is the Affordable Child Care and Elder Care Act. Newt always liked to use the word Affordable because this showed it would be responsibly paid for. But how this bill will be made affordable is left to the imagination. Naturally, he has a Repeal and Replace Obamacare bill on his list. But what will replace it?
Trump also plans to get rid of President Obama’s executive actions; no reason given other than he hates our president. He is going to suspend immigration from any country that has terrorists and build the Wall and make Mexico pay for it. His tax plan, he claims, will give the largest tax deduction to the middle class but then he sticks to the plan to cut corporate taxes for billionaires from 35% to 15% and says all the money the corporations will save will be plowed back into the American economy. We know what corporations have been doing with their money. They are storing it in off-shore accounts to avoid paying taxes, just like Trump does. He wants all education in the country to be controlled locally and he will end the Common Core program. The American public education system is what created the American middle class and brought prosperity to millions though programs in the past like the G.I Bill, after World War Two. But Trump prefers to abandon federal support for education in favor of home schooling and other local efforts.
Trump went out of his way to include a soliloquy on the evils of Comcast, Amazon, and other media giants for their dominance of news (Amazon’s owner also owns the dreaded Inside-the-Beltway Washington Post). And finally I will mention just one more of his 100-Day proposals. He will cancel the money the United States gives to the UN for projects related to global climate change and use that money here in the United States for clean water projects because, he said, he wants to fix “our” environment, meaning the environment of the United States, as if the United States is so isolated from the rest of the world that it is a separate entity. It was his America First theme taken to an absurd level.
All presidents need a cooperative Congress to pass legislation. Congress is the legislative branch. No president can dictate to Congress, nor should they be able to. Any plan to change America in 100 days may make a good stump speech but such a plan is meaningless once a candidate is in office. I am not sure Trump knows the difference between campaign talk and the reality of governance.
Trump spoke for more than a half hour at Gettysburg. Lincoln spoke there for seven minutes. Trump’s speech of defiance and negative views of America and its institutions will be quickly forgotten. Lincoln’s words, designed to heal a terribly wounded and divided nation, will live for forever.