Posted Thursday morning, November 10, 2016.
Photo courtesy of The Hall of Presidents at Disney World.
Warren G. Harding.
There's a character who's amusing to contemplate for his own ridiculous sake but that's not why I'm bringing him up.
When the time comes for the real President Trump to take his place among the ghosts that haunt the Hall of Presidents at Disney World, I wonder which if any of the former Presidents will deign to talk to him instead of treating him with the silent contempt he’ll deserve.
Maybe Truman and Lincoln would exchange pleasantries to be polite because they're polite men. But they'd move away as quick as they could. Carter would try to be polite too, if Trump insisted on saying hello first. But Carter wasn’t as adept as Truman or Lincoln at hiding his moral disgust. It cost him politically, but let people know what he thought of them if only by allowing it to show hotly in his eyes.
Nixon probably couldn't resist lecturing Trump on statecraft, the art of governance, how history will view them. But imagine he'd give it up pretty quickly when he realized Trump wasn't even trying to follow what he said.
LBJ might sidle over just to throw his arm over his shoulder and, making sure Trump felt the difference between being six-feet four inches tall and a puny six-foot three, and sneer, “So you think yours is big?”
Then he’d swaggering away, guffawing to JFK.
I don’t recall Andrew Johnson’s being thought to be a sociable fellow. Kind of a sullen clam, I believe. But he might let himself be drawn into a conversation without knowing or caring who he was talking to, if he wasn’t too drunk.
But I think even the monstrously full of himself Trump would know better than to go near Andrew Jackson. Not that Old Hickory was such a paragon, but he wouldn’t hesitate to let Trump know he thought him a blustering coward and a fool and demand he prove how much “stamina” he really has with a sword or by arm wrestling or in an actual horse race.
Washington with wither him with a glance.
But I can see Trump and Harding hitting it off.
They could start off by talking about how hard and boring the job was and how they wished someone had told them that beforehand.
Then they could move on to exchanging stories about the fun of chasing pretty girls when you’re a middle-aged and old man with power and money and the thrill of cheating on your wife with younger women.
A tape of that conversation would make the Access Hollywood video sound prudish.
But I think it would be Teddy who’d take the time---an hour at least---to let Trump know what a disgrace to the office and to manhood he was.
I know. I’m sorry. I’m just trying to lift my own spirits here. It’s not the least bit funny. I’m sick at heart at thinking of all the harm and pain and trouble he’s going to cause. But the Cub Scout inside me is sick to his stomach at the thought of that piece of slime taking a place among his forty-three predecessors. Some of those men were less than heroes. Many of them were not particularly good men. And for all I know, at least one of those obscure 19th Century presidents could have been as corrupt and depraved and disgusting in his own way as Trump is in his. But as far as I do know, he is objectively the most despicable man to have have been elected president. Nixon had to be president for a little while in order to become a worse human being than Donald Trump. Jackson was a homicidal and genocidal maniac, not to mention a slaveholder and a virulent racist, but he had virtues, some of which were outstanding. Courage, for one. Physical and political. And he had a code of conduct and a sense of honor. Volatile as he was, he wasn’t motivated purely by vanity, ego, appetite, and whim. And he cared about policy and good governance and democracy and the country---”Our federal Union, it must be preserved!” Trump cares about nothing but Trump. It makes me ill---I’m not being hyperbolic. I've come close to throwing up.---and it breaks my heart---I've cried, too.---to think of that man standing there even robot form alongside Washington and Adams and Jefferson and Lincoln and both Roosevelts and Barack Obama as if he not only belongs but he’s their equal in any way.
I think it’s become the tradition that the animatronic version of the current president greet the visitors to The Hall of Presidents in the voice of the real president. This means that for the next four years children will “meet” President Trump on the same terms as they “meet” the great presidents standing and sitting behind him. I’m appalled at the thought. But I’m even more appalled that for the next few months, at least, CNN and other networks and news outlets will be “covering” his doings and sayings as if he not only belongs there with the great presidents simply as a matter of his being the president but as if he belongs among them because he’s one of their equals.
They will cover him as if we’re all little kids at Disney World and too many of us will eat it up like ice cream sold to them by Mickey Mouse.
This post by Paul Waldman is hard to read because it was written before the polls closed on Tuesday with the assumption Clinton would win, but it still needs to be passed around before what Trump is and has done and said get completely replaced in the public imagination by the Disney World robot version: Hillary Clinton has to be gracious to Donald Trump. The rest of us don’t.