SYNDICATED COLUMN: So What if President Trump is an Asshole? All the Presidents Have Been Assholes.

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President Trump is under fire and we’re all shocked shocked SHOCKED that his shithole mouth called the (predominantly black) nations of Africa “shitholes,” helpfully comparing them to (predominantly blonde) Norway to make sure nobody missed the point. To drive home just how pissed off people are about this (and rightly so), Trump’s shithole comment overshadowed news that the government accidentally told the citizens of Hawaii they were about to get nuked. As George W. Bush would say, that’s some weird shit.

This is a big deal unless you’re reading this more than a few days after this writing, at which point Trump will have raised more hell with some new idiotic utterance that makes us forget about this one.

Speaking of hell-raising: I managed to raise a few social-media hackles recently when I posted the following: “I honestly don’t understand why people are so depressed about Trump. Policy-wise, he isn’t much different than Obama. Trump is truth in advertising: he is an asshole, our country acts like an asshole. No need for phony smiles, PC rhetoric.”

This led to a discussion comparing Trump not just to Obama, but other American presidents. There were lots of great comments. Still, I was struck by something that few people seem to be aware of — America’s rich history of presidential assholery. Given how wicked smart my readers are, I was surprised to hear some of them refer favorably to Trump’s predecessors.

Trump is a thieving, lying turd. In that respect, he is as presidential as it gets. Going back to Day One, the United States has been led by white males behaving badly.

Trump gets attacked for using the presidency to line his pockets, and rightfully so. Yet The Donald has nothing on the Father of Our Country.

George Washington was worth more than half a billion in today’s dollars — riches he accumulated in large part by exploiting his political influence to loot federal coffers. He joined the Masons, married well, scored a few lucky inheritances and invested the loot in real estate along what was then the Colonies’ western frontier in Indian territory that he came across as a young land surveyor.

GW’s acreage was on the wrong side of the Appalachian mountains — but not for long. Talk about conflict of interest: as commander of the revolutionary army and president, he promoted settlement of the west by whites that pumped up the value of his early investments. The fact that those whites were engaged in genocide bothered Washington not one whit.

Even on the Left, some Americans point to Lincoln as a pillar of moral rectitude. But Honest Abe suspended the ancient writ of habeas corpus; in 2006, a militaristic asshole named George W. Bush relied on Lincoln’s 1863 precedent to abolish it altogether.

Since nothing in the Constitution bans secession, Southern states enjoyed the legal right to leave the Union. Defying the Constitution, Lincoln went to war — illegally — to bring them back. Not only was the Civil War a bloodbath, it left us with a nation that remains politically and culturally fractured to this day. Blacks were 13% of the population of the Confederacy. Had Lincoln chosen peace, a slave uprising might have brought down the Old South — and killed a lot of racists.

Lincoln cheated in the 1864 election by playing both sides of the secession. To justify the war, he claimed the breakaway states were still part of the Union, yet didn’t count Southern electoral votes because they would have cost him reelection.

You name the president, I’ll name at least one unforgiveable sin.

FDR? The New Deal was a grand achievement. But if trying to stack the Supreme Court isn’t impeachable, what is? When World War II broke out, Roosevelt played footsie with Vichy France while snubbing the Resistance. He turned away Jewish refugees and refused to bomb the Nazi infrastructure used to murder Jews. He dragged his feet taking on Hitler so that the Soviet Union would take the brunt of Nazi savagery.

Folks are already saying: “Barack Obama will be inducted into the league of Great Presidents.” Obama, most Democrats have already forgotten, broke his promise to try for a “public option” in the Affordable Care Act. He went on languid vacations while the global economy was collapsing, handed trillions to bankers no strings attached and did nothing to help the unemployed and people whose homes were stolen by the banks. And he slaughtered thousands of innocent civilians with drones — people who represented zero threat to anyone — just for fun.

If that’s a great president, give me a shitty one.

(Ted Rall (Twitter: @tedrall) is co-author, with Harmon Leon, of “Meet the Deplorables: Infiltrating Trump America,” an inside look at the American far right, out now. You can support Ted’s hard-hitting political cartoons and columns and see his work first by sponsoring his work on Patreon.)

14 thoughts on “SYNDICATED COLUMN: So What if President Trump is an Asshole? All the Presidents Have Been Assholes.

  1. Great post Ted.

    Able to face the reality AND make it into the joke that it is without getting all preachy.

    More on George Washington as inspiration for a (corrupt) wealthy president:

    Washington used federal troops—marshaled under the “heroic” (as his hagiographers would have us believe) Alexander Hamilton—to put down the Whiskey Rebellion and, after using big government to knock out the competition, then became the biggest producer of whiskey in the U.S.A.

    Alexander Hamilton argued that a constitution (namely the British Constitution) “Purged of its corruptions…would become an impracticable government.”

    Three cheers for corruption!

  2. Maybe the difference is that it took years to find out about Presidential assholery? Now we see it in real time.

  3. Kirk Walters had a great cartoon on 9 Feb 2017, with a fat press trying to chase after Trump after 8 years when Obama could do no wrong.

    Camb Bucca and ISIL? Seymour Hersh on what happened to the ambassador in Libya? Revised and repressed.

    Obama gave great speeches about fighting climate change and treating everyone fairly, while Trump announced he was abolishing all the job-killing regulations against dumping mine waste in drinking water, but tests show much of the nation’s drinking water is unsafe, fossil fuel production doubled under Obama, and Obama deported more Hispanics in ’16 than Trump deported in ’17, so Obama only made great speeches, but his actions were about the same as Trump’s.

  4. Lincoln was a Real Man – he once grabbed a man by his throat & threw him across the room. Is that an Unforgivable Sin? What’s not to like? I prefer to think of Teddy Roosevelt as a Son Of A Bitch rather than an Asshole. (a minor but important distinction)

    Say what you will about the earlier presidents, but they had *balls* – unlike the namby-pamby focus-group driven politicians of today. I far prefer someone with a real spine. GW Bush would have never put himself in danger to support his so-called values like Teddy, Washington & Eisenhower (okay, I do know my history – but Ike *tried* to get to the front while Dumbya actively avoided it)

    I may not always approve of their actions, but I *do* believe that the POTUS needs a big, brass pair. Character counts – or at least it should.

    (None of which contradicts Ted’s points – he *is* right on everything except “Obama was as bad as Trump” … I mean seriously? Obummer was bad, yeah, sure, but Trump? Not buying it, not by a mile.)

    • Obama was like a bedbug, sucking blood (trillions for the criminal banks from the poorest millions who suffered loss of their homes) and an anodyne personality serving as an anesthetic.

      “[Bedbugs] crawl towards the meal by following heat and carbon dioxide. They penetrate skin with two hollow tubes. The [one] is for drinking blood while the other injects anticoagulants and pain relieving anesthetics. After feeding for a few minutes a bedbug returns to its hiding place.”

      Obama was the deporter-in-chief, the droner of American citizens, the prosecutor of whistle blowers extraordinaire…all in the service of George W. Bush’s war against Saddam Hussein for the attack on the World Trade Center towers funded by Saudi Arabians.

      That adds up to real bad for me.

      • > Obumma was also the only Nobel Peace Prize winner to have bombed another one.

        Two Thumbs Up!

        @Glenn – agreed. Let’s see how Trumpism plays out. I thoroughly believe he’s a despicable human being, and that his innermost self is far darker than Oasshole’s. Howsomever, it may be that his general incoherence and contradictory BS will add up to doing less damage overall. Or maybe he’ll start WWIII, bring back lynching, and screw up our economy worse than Dumbya and Reagan combined. He’s sure as shit not going to close Guantanamo or pull us out of the Middle East.

      • Trump has been pushing for a nuclear attack on North Korea.

        The two false ballistic missile alarms in the last couple of days (in Hawaii and in Japan) could possibly be a sales job, good enough at least to get the adrenalin high enough to affect cognitive function of the people in target zones, so that they might accept a Trump first strike on NK, the same way W. became a hero figure after 9-11.

        If the people had a color alarm to monitor their government, I would put it at about yellow now.

        Nixon was about to nuke Vietnam in late 1969 and so put B-52s in the air on the Russian borders to do a first strike if the USSR reacted to his a-bomb first strike on Vietnam.

        Democrats were anti-war at that time so millions turned up at the October Moratorium and gave Nixon a rethink. Democrats are pro-war now and are egging Trump on to war, so I can’t see a replay of this political deterrence happening this time.

        I was involved peripherally in that activity and Daniel Ellsberg’s new book informed some of my unanswered questions about that time.

        It’s always darkest before the false dawn.

      • > Democrats are pro-war now

        It is to weep. I there a Left left today? (background music: “Where have all the flowers gone?”)

        > It’s always darkest before the false dawn.

        It’s always darkest just before it gets completely black. 😉

      • It’s always darker after the false dawn than before it.

        Hopey Changey Obama followed by openly fascist Trump: Dark and Darker.

  5. George Washington as inspiration for a wealthy president:

    Washington used federal troops—marshaled under the “heroic” (as his hagiographers would have us believe) Alexander Hamilton—to put down the Whiskey Rebellion. And after using big government to knock out the competition, he then became the biggest producer of whiskey in the U.S.A.

  6. @Ted –

    Accepting your challenge – what unforgivable sin did William Henry Harrison commit?