Trump probably meant to say Andrew Johnson

To the editor:

I read Alden Graves' May 9 column on Donald Trump's remarks about Andrew Jackson with interest and am sure most of us profited from learning more about President Jackson. But I believe that he and other commentators missed the real danger shown in the current president's actions and reactions it illustrates. I believe that his first mistake was really a minor one which I and many others have made. In speaking and writing hastily we have said "Andrew Jackson" when we were really speaking about "Andrew Johnson." Johnson became president when Lincoln was assassinated.

Andrew Johnson fits what Mr. Trump originally said about how the Civil War could have been avoided if he had come into office earlier. With Johnson it makes an almost plausible statement. He was a Democrat and served as governor and then senator from Tennessee. Tennessee was a border state, sure to face bitter division between pro North and pro South partisan; sure to be the site of dreadful battles and destruction in a war. He worked against secession; he was the only senator from a Confederate state to remain in the Senate; and he supported lenient terms for the South to get the war quickly. Johnson was elected vice-president on "National Union," not "Republican," ticket. His lenient post-war plan to re-admit southern states to the Union led to his impeachment and near removal from office.

Trump's mistake was a minor one. If he had simply admitted it, himself or through his spokesperson, the issue would have disappeared. But he was unwilling to admit a forgivable error. Instead, he doubled down on it, pretended he really had meant Andrew Jackson, and went through verbal twists and created a distorted picture of Andrew Jackson to try to prove that he had been correct all along.

It was not his initial misstatement, but the length he was willing to go to try to prove he never makes mistakes that endangers our country and our planet. A habit of taking desperate measures to cover up mistake is not a good one for a person who controls the nuclear button to have.

— David A. Durfee



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