Donald Trump left reporters dumbfounded during an impromptu Rose Garden press conference on Saturday, as he likened his effectiveness as commander in chief to that of Jefferson Davis, the president of the southern states during the American Civil War.
“No president in history has been able to advance an anti-progressive, white-leaning agenda like we have in such a short amount of time,” said President Trump, while taking a moment to squash honeybees alighting on fresh rose blooms near his podium. “Honestly, I think I’m the best president since Jefferson Davis.”
The self-assessment, coming just days after his controversial remarks following the violence at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, VA, troubled many political observers, historians, and Congressional leaders on both sides of the aisle.
Jefferson Davis, a West Point graduate who later operated a cotton plantation in Mississippi where he owned 74 slaves, presided over the southern confederacy as it pulled the nation apart before losing the Civil War to the north. There is general consensus among historians that Davis was an abysmal leader.
They also agree that Donald Trump and Jefferson Davis have much in common, although little of it is favorable. While Davis served as the Confederate president from 1861–1865, and Trump has only been U.S. president for eight months, both advanced flawed or confusing military strategies, both selected friends rather than qualified political appointees to top roles in their governments, each man refused to delegate important jobs to experts thinking they could do them better themselves, both ignored the common people while favoring the rich, and Trump and Davis have both been criticized for an inability to foster harmonious relations among administration staff members. Jefferson Davis was also indicted for treason, just as President Trump is likely to be for his role in colluding with Russia to influence our elections.
“It doesn’t matter what the fake news media says about Jefferson Davis,” barked a fired-up president, glaring at several black and Hispanic members of the White House press pool, “He’s a hero to me and to a lot of other very fine people, very fine southern patriots. But, to be honest, I’m a lot bigger than Jefferson Davis ever was. My popularity is so off the charts in the south right now, they should erect a monument to me in Charlottesville, as well as all the other southern cities. ”
After Mr. Trump made his reverential remarks about the Confederate president — an unapologetic proponent of slavery, a symbol of racist pride, and a man who tried to tear apart the union through secession — White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was forced to clarify his statement: “I believe what President Trump was referring to in commending the leadership of Jefferson Davis was his service as a U.S. senator and Secretary of War under President Franklin Pierce. At least that’s what I hope he was referring to, because even I can’t spin his bigoted claptrap to sound like anything more than the deranged ramblings of a man who’s lost the plot.”
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