Hours after a terrorist attack in Spain, Trump revived a widely debunked story he has previously told about a general killing Muslim extremists by shooting them with bullets dipped in pig’s blood, urging his followers on Twitter to “study what General Pershing of the United States did to terrorists when caught.”
Trump’s repeated trafficking of a claim without evidence prompted another round of questions about his grasp of history and fitness for the office he holds. In the nearly seven months since his inauguration, the President has suggested that Andrew Jackson was “really angry” about the Civil War, which began nearly two decades after his death, has spoken of Frederick Douglass as though he were still alive and referred to human trafficking as “a problem that’s probably worse than any time of the history of this world,” seemingly ignorant of African slave trade.
“He doesn’t see any need to learn from anybody else in history or contemporaneously,” Peter Wehner, a former speechwriter for President George W. Bush, said of Trump. “There obviously have been people with healthy egos who have been president — you don’t become president unless you have one — but there’s never been anybody who’s been as staggeringly ignorant of policy and history.”
Guided by the past
Each past president has engaged with historical tomes, and venerated their political heroes, to different degrees. Two past presidents — Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson — served as leaders of the American Historical Association. And President John F. Kennedy, according to historians, read Barbara Tuchman’s “The Guns of August” about the origins of World…
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