Trump vs. Lincoln: What’s a Republican to Think?

A November 30 Economist/ opinion poll found that 53 percent of Republicans said that Donald Trump is a better president than Abraham Lincoln was.  The Lincoln cult – especially the neocon/”Straussian” wing — must be tearing its collective hair out over this affront to their “Father Abraham” (the official title bestowed upon the sixteenth president by the late Harry Jaffa and his fellow cultists).  But, lo and behold, the news is even worse for the Lincoln cult!

Whenever presidents are compared in terms of their “popularity” the usual methodology is to compare public opinion regarding two presidents at a particular time of the presidential term.  For example, Republicans have been touting recently that President Trump has a more favorable ranking than President Obama did at this point in his four-year term.  The Trump/Lincoln survey, however, does not do that.  Lincoln has the advantage of more than 150 years of deification through government propaganda, hundreds of false histories about him written by court historians like Jaffa, and the statist lapdog “popular culture” with such propaganda films as Steven Spielberg’s “Lincoln.”

THE UNPOPULAR MR. LINC... Larry Tagg Best Price: $112.43 Buy New $372.98 (as of 07:55 EST - Details) If the same standards of comparison between Trump and Lincoln were employed that are used for all other presidential comparisons, Trump would not be merely six percentage points ahead of Lincoln, but closer to about 90.  During his lifetime Abraham Lincoln was by far the most hated and despised of all American presidents, as documented by Larry Tagg in The Unpopular Mr. Lincoln: The Story of America’s Most Reviled President.  For example, Tagg cites a May 1864 New York Times article about what the Northern press at the time thought of Lincoln:  “No living man was ever charged with political crimes of such multiplicity and such enormity as Abraham Lincoln.  He has been denounced without end as a perjurer, a usurper, a tyrant, a subverter of the Constitution, a destroyer of the liberties of his country, a reckless desperado, a heartless trifler over the last agonies of an expiring nation.”  All true, and all the opinion of the Northern state “mainstream media” of the day.  The Southern media was of course far worse.

“The violence of he criticism aimed at Lincoln by the great men of his time . . . is startling,” writes Tagg.  “The breadth and depth of the spectacular prejudice against him is often shocking for its cruelty, intensity, and unrelenting vigor . . . . Lincoln was deeply reviled by many who knew him personally, and by hundreds of thousands who only knew of him.”  He was routinely condemned as a “bloody tyrant,” and a “dictator” for “stretching the rules of the Constitution to allow arbitrary arrests, the suspension of habeas corpus, and the suppression of newspapers.”  There was pervasive cheering and celebrating in the North when Lincoln was assassinated, writes Tagg.

Having researched and written about Lincoln, his war, his statist economic policies, and his demolition of civil liberties over the past twenty years (my next Lincoln book will be published by Regnery in June), I have learned that all the typical American over the age of 35 knows about him is the few slogans that Americans are all taught in grade school – that he supposedly “freed the slaves with a stroke of a pen” and “saved the union,” both of which are undeniably false.  The under-35 population knows even less.

Immediately upon his death the Republican Party propaganda machine, led by Secretary of War Edwin Stanton, set about to turn his hated and reviled despot, who had launched an invasion of his own country that led to as many as 850,0000 deaths according to the latest research, into the symbol of the “virtuous” American state.  He would become the murdered martyr who, like Jesus Christ (so they said at the time) died on Good Friday for the sins of his country, just as Christ died for the sins of the world.  Because of this the American state, monopolized by the Republican Party for the succeeding half century (except for the Grover Cleveland diversion) would possess a “treasury of virtue,” as Robert Penn Warren described it in The Legacy of the Civil War.  That would mean that anything the American state did – invade the Spanish empire, mass murder the Plains Indians in a crusade of genocide, intervene in World War I – anything – was “virtuous” by virtue of the fact that it was the American state that was doing it.  This totalitarian ideology of “American exceptionalism” continues to poison America to this day.

The Legacy of the Civi... Warren, Robert Penn Best Price: $3.16 Buy New $7.95 (as of 11:00 EST - Details) Stanton started the deification crusade by taking possession of Lincoln’s corpse from his widow and parading it around the country on a 1,600-mile train route.  He ordered that the face of the corpse not be touched so that it would look as gruesome as possible.  Pastors all over the North, who were part and parcel of the Republican Party machine, began comparing Lincoln to Jesus and Moses.   Republican Party thugs who had vandalized and destroyed Northern state printing presses and newspaper offices that supported the Democratic Party during the war bullied and brutalized those who dared to criticize “Father Abraham” in public.  Tagg writes of how a Chicago man was shot and killed in a hotel lobby after saying “it served Lincoln right.”  There were dozens of eye witnesses but no arrest was made.

Lincoln the atheist was turned into a deeply religious monk-like figure who supposedly spent most of his time in the White House on his knees praying, as Ira D. Cardiff wrote in his 1943 book, The Deification of Lincoln.  Even Lincoln’s mother become second only to the Virgin Mary in terms of her supposed chastity, wrote Cardiff.  Each year after his death, wrote Cardiff, Lincoln became more and more “religious.”  He concludes that “The unfortunate and defenseless public . . . is almost powerless to protect itself from Lincoln hysteria.  If it attempts to get the truth about Lincoln, it is confronted with a mountain of fable and froth, foolishness and fancy, through which it must dig to obtain, only an occasional gem of truth . . . .  Of the thousands of books published on Lincoln, one can almost count on his fingers those of any value as critical, scientific productions.”

That was written in 1943.  The degree of delusion about Lincoln is orders of magnitude greater today than it was then, thanks to the ongoing efforts of the court historians of the Lincoln cult.  (As Murray Rothbard once said, a “court historian” is one who informs the public that “the emperor” of the old Hans Christian Andersen tale does indeed have a fine set of clothes after all).

All of this is why, if the truth were known, the comparison between Trump and Lincoln would be no contest at all: Trump would win by at least 99-1.

The Deification of Lin... Ira D. Cardiff Buy New $8.61 (as of 04:25 EST - Details) The Problem with Socia... Thomas DiLorenzo Best Price: $9.49 Buy New $11.93 (as of 06:45 EST - Details) The Real Lincoln: A Ne... Dilorenzo, Thomas J. Best Price: $4.25 Buy New $7.48 (as of 07:05 EST - Details) Lincoln Unmasked: What... Thomas J. Dilorenzo Best Price: $5.95 Buy New $9.85 (as of 07:10 EST - Details)