Presidential historian Jon Meacham said on Saturday that Donald Trump’s refusal to learn on the job and his continued efforts to incite his angry mob of supporters is “one of the tragedies of the era.”
During an interview with MSNBC’s Joy Reid about the new anti-science uprising on the right, Meacham said the president’s behavior lately – encouraging his supporters to ignore life-saving social distancing guidelines – shows that he hasn’t changed a bit since taking office.
“I cannot think of a president off the top of my head who has so self-evidently failed to learn on the job,” the historian said. “The president continues to simply coddle his base at a dangerous level and almost willfully doesn’t want to learn on the job.”
“I cannot think of a president off the top of my head who has so self-evidently failed to learn on the job,” presidential historian Jon Meacham said on Saturday. #ctl #p2 #amjoy pic.twitter.com/fVjgWBBooI
— PoliticusUSA (@politicususa) April 18, 2020
One of the tragedies of the era is that the president manages to fulfill every time one’s preexisting view of him. There’s never been a president — not never. I cannot think of a president off the top of my head who has so self-evidently failed to learn on the job. Abraham Lincoln starts out saying he would protect slavery in southern states and ends up on January 1st, 1863 with the Emancipation Proclamation. John Kennedy screws up the Bay of Pigs in April of 1961. By October 1962 he manages the Cuban missile crisis. Ronald Reagan comes in talking about the Soviet Union as an evil empire. By May 1988 he’s literally in Red Square playing with babies. Right? So you have these moments in our history where presidents have challenged their bases, not simply coddled them, and learned from experience. And in this case, the president continues to simply coddle his base at a dangerous level and almost willfully doesn’t want to learn on the job.
Trump is interested in a made-for-TV reality show, not governing the country
If the last 24 hours has shown the country anything, it’s that Donald Trump cares more about staging a made-for-TV reality show than governing a country in the middle of a crisis.
In other words, he is encouraging his supporters to take to the streets in the middle of a pandemic because he likes the optics of being the leader of an uprising. He doesn’t care that even more lives will be put at risk as a result, he just likes that it makes for good television.
In a healthy democracy, leaders of all political stripes would call for the immediate resignation of a president who spewed the dangerous rhetoric Donald Trump over the past couple of days. But this is 2020, and the GOP is fresh out of any patriotism and dignity they once had.
No matter what happens in November, history will always remember Donald Trump as a failed leader and stain on this country.
Sean Colarossi currently resides in Cleveland, Ohio. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and was an organizing fellow for both of President Obama’s presidential campaigns. He also worked with Planned Parenthood as an Affordable Care Act Outreach Organizer in 2014, helping northeast Ohio residents obtain health insurance coverage.