One of the most obscene illustrations of self-aggrandizement I know of is Donald Trump’s occasional comparison of himself with a real American President, Abraham Lincoln. It’s a near-perfect example of nonexistent competence overestimating ability. Doctors Dunning and Kruger would be hard-pressed to find a more befitting, textbook instance of their eponymous Effect.
In fact, Lincoln’s and Trump’s respective presidencies are the closest thing I know of to complete opposites. Where Lincoln was “Honest Abe,” Trump told 30,000 lies. Lincoln possessed a subtle and powerful mind. Trump was and remains a hamfisted buffoon. Lincoln endured untold hardship during his presidency, including the loss of a child, culminating in the sacrifice of his very life.
Trump breezed through his term of office, playing golf, avoiding discomfort and responsibility at every turn, too lazy and selfish even, to honor American World War I soldiers in France because of a few measly drops of rain. Had Trump lost a child during his presidency I doubt he would have cared. Except for Ivanka, of course. And it disgusts me to imagine why.
Lincoln was the soul of deceptively simple eloquence. Trump is a brainless, rambling cretin who can barely string two comprehensible sentences together. Where Lincoln was brilliant, compassionate, courageous, decent and moral, Trump was and still is a sociopath, a total vulgarian, disloyal and craven, an idiot, a fool, a conman, a rapist, a stochastic terrorist.
Lincoln also had a wicked sense of humor and amazing wit. He was a master storyteller, particularly of the long, funny, cumulative kind. But then, to have a sense of humor you also need to have a certain amount of self-effacing humility, which explains why Abraham Lincoln had so much and Donald Trump has absolutely none. Like Hitler, Trump is incapable of humor, except when the humor is cruel.
Above all, Lincoln saved the Union from a devastating insurrection. Trump tried to destroy the Union by inciting an insurrection. Perhaps of all the presidents in history, only Abraham Lincoln was up to the unique challenge he inherited.
To save the Union, Lincoln employed the inherent powers of the presidency to nimbly dance perilously but necessarily close to the outer limits of the Constitution. To try to destroy the Union, Trump trampled and spat on the Constitution. He reviled it, defiled it, raped it. He promoted hate and division. It’s a testament to the power of the nation, fortified and sustained by men like Abraham Lincoln, that America survived a Trump presidency at all.
Today, as I write this, is the anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s birth in 1809. Let’s take a moment to reflect on him, and remember how far superior America’s greatest President was to America’s worst. In recognition of Abraham Lincoln’s vast superiority I have a challenge for Donald Trump. Lincoln won the presidency despite the fact that his name didn’t even appear on the ballots of ten Southern states. I challenge Donald Trump to see if he can do the same. And, as ever, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, stay safe.
Robert Harrington is an American expat living in Britain. He is a portrait painter.