President Trump often compares himself to Abraham Lincoln. Here’s Mark Levin’s take:
There were similarities between the two presidents as well as some contrast. For starters they share the same political party. Lincoln was the first Republican president. Trump is the 19th. Both men were long shot candidates. In 1860 Lincoln like Trump, defeated a field of better connected rivals to capture the Republican nomination and win the general election. In fact, Lincoln got slightly over 39% of the vote. Both men came to office with little or no government experience. Lincoln had served only four terms in the Illinois legislature and one term in Congress.
Trump had spent zero time in government. Trump on the other hand had far more executive experience before his presidency. Lincoln ran a two-man law firm with a reputation for disorganization. He often stored important papers in his hat and in the corner of his Springfield Illinois office he had a stack of documents labeled, “When you can’t find it anywhere else, look in this.” Both men experienced harsh reactions to their elections.
In 1860 secessionists wore ribbons with slogans such as “Resistance to Lincoln” and “Obedience to God.” Sound familiar? Lincoln governed during the most divided era in our nation’s history. Trump is governing in perhaps the most acrimonious period since then. Both presidencies have been times of extreme media partisanship.
In Lincoln’s day, newspapers were closely aligned with the Democrat or Republican parties and it showed in their reporting. In 1863 for example, after the Gettysburg Address, the Democratic Chicago Times proclaimed that: “The cheek of every American must tingle with shame as he reads the silly flat dishwatery utterances of Lincoln’s speech. The Springfield Republican in Massachusetts, called it “A perfect gem deep in feeling compact in thought and expression.” Lincoln like trump was furiously attacked in the media newspapers called him a demon, a buffoon, a miserable failure, a disgrace to the nation. “The man who votes for Lincoln now is a traitor,” one Wisconsin paper asserted when he ran for re-election in 1864. You can imagine what southern newspapers wrote.
Trump returns the media’s fire almost daily, but his assaults have been a war of words. Lincoln’s counter-attacks could be more aggressive. His administration believed some opposition newspapers fueled treason, so what did he do during the Civil War? Federal authorities sometimes harassed or closed anti-war newspapers and even arrested editors. Lincoln did not author the suppressions but he rarely objected. Lincoln like Trump developed ingenious end runs around the press to communicate directly with the people. He managed to get letters and speeches widely published, so voters would know his thoughts and his words.
Trump has done the same with rallies, ninety minute press conferences, and his tweets. The Washington political establishment viewed Lincoln like Trump with wariness and outright hostility. He was considered a rube from the prairies clearly out of his depth. Trump is somewhat of a street fighter. His instinct when hit, is to hit back twice as hard. In his younger days, Lincoln also was a scrapper. He once defended a colleague from an unruly audience by threatening to break heads with a stone pitcher on another occasion he came close to dueling a political rival with broad swords. With age he became more conciliatory. As president he sometimes cooled off by writing blistering letters and then filing them away without mailing them – No tweeting for Lincoln.