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Uncanny Resemblence

Following links from one Ta-Nehisi Coates article to another, I stumbled across this:

The President of the United States has so singular a combination of defects for the office of a constitutional magistrate, that he could have obtained the opportunity to misrule the nation only by a visitation of Providence. Insincere as well as stubborn, cunning as well as unreasonable, vain as well as ill-tempered, greedy of popularity as well as arbitrary in disposition, veering in his mind as well as fixed in his will, he unites in his character the seemingly opposite qualities of demagogue and autocrat, and converts the Presidential chair into a stump or a throne, according as the impulse seizes him to cajole or to command. Doubtless much of the evil developed in him is due to his misfortune in having been lifted by events to a position which he lacked the elevation and breadth of intelligence adequately to fill. He was cursed with the possession of a power and authority which no man of narrow mind, bitter prejudices, and inordinate self-estimation can exercise without depraving himself as well as injuring the nation. Egotistic to the point of mental disease, he resented the direct and manly opposition of statesmen to his opinions and moods as a personal affront, and descended to the last degree of littleness in a political leader, — that of betraying his party, in order to gratify his spite. He of course became the prey of intriguers and sycophants, — of persons who understand the art of managing minds which are at once arbitrary and weak, by allowing them to retain unity of will amid the most palpable inconsistencies of opinion, so that inconstancy to principle shall not weaken force of purpose, nor the emphasis be at all abated with which they may bless to-day what yesterday they cursed.

While it could easily be a description of the 45th President of the United States, it’s the lede of a September 1866 Atlantic essay by E.P. Whipple on the 17th President.

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About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He earned a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.


  1. Franklin says:

    Maybe when Trump expressed his admiration for Andrew Jackson, he had just mixed up the last name.

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  2. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

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  3. loaded says:

    Sounds like #44 and #45.

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  4. Dennis says:

    It’s poetic that Trump is compared to Johnson. A President that was on course for impeachment. It would eerily scary to see what he’s said on his mobile voip. Citizens need to know their history.

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