Op-Ed: How do Trump’s words stack up against those of his predecessors?

President Donald Trump.
(Michael Reynolds/EPA-EFE/REX)

A president’s legacy consists not only of actions, but also of words. How will President Trump’s words, written and spoken, stack up against those of his predecessors? You be the judge.

Ronald Reagan: “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.”

Donald Trump: “I will build a great wall — and nobody builds walls better than me, believe me — and I’ll build them very inexpensively. I will build a great, great wall on our southern border, and I will make Mexico pay for that wall. Mark my words.”

Lyndon Johnson (After a civil rights march in Selma, Ala. was attacked by state troopers in 1965): ”There is no cause for pride in what has happened in Selma. There is no cause for self-satisfaction in the long denial of equal rights of millions of Americans.”


Donald Trump (After a man in a car mowed down people who had come out to protest a white nationalist Rally in Charlottesville, Va. in 2017): “I think there is blame on both sides…. You had some very bad people in that group, but you also had people that were very fine people on both sides.”

Abraham Lincoln: “This extraordinary war in which we are engaged falls heavily upon all classes of people, but the most heavily upon the soldier. For it has been said, all that a man hath will he give for his life; and while all contribute of their substance the soldier puts his life at stake, and often yields it up in his country’s cause. The highest merit, then is due to the soldier.”

Donald Trump: John McCain’s “not a war hero. He’s a war hero because he was captured. I like people that weren’t captured.”

Thomas Jefferson: “The only security of all is in a free press.”

George W. Bush: “Power can be very addictive. And it can be corrosive. And it’s important for the media to call to account people who abuse their power.”

Donald Trump: “The FAKE NEWS media is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American people. SICK!”

Barack Obama: “It’s on all of us to reject the quiet tolerance of sexual assault and to refuse to accept what’s unacceptable.”

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Donald Trump: “You know I’m automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.”

George Washington: “Truth will ultimately prevail where there is pains to bring it to light.”

Donald Trump: “An economic miracle is taking place in the United States, and the only thing that can stop it are foolish wars, politics or ridiculous partisan investigations. If there is going to be peace and legislation, there cannot be war and investigation.”

Franklin D. Roosevelt: “Remember, remember always, that all of us … are descended from immigrants and revolutionists.”

Donald Trump: “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re sending people that have lots of problems…. They’re bringing drugs, they’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.”

Richard Nixon: “The Congress, the administration and the public all share a profound commitment to the rescue of our natural environment, and the preservation of the Earth as a place both habitable by and hospitable to man.”

Donald Trump: “Ice storm rolls from Texas to Tennessee — I’m in Los Angeles and it’s freezing. Global warming is a total, and very expensive, hoax!”


Andrew Jackson: “Any man worth his salt will stick up for what he believes right, but it takes a slightly better man to acknowledge instantly and without reservation that he is in error.”

Donald Trump: “I don’t think I’ve made mistakes. Every time somebody said I made a mistake, they do the polls and my numbers go up, so I guess I haven’t made any mistakes.”

Bruce Baert is a Los Angeles journalist. @BruceBaertwritr