Trump tops William Henry Harrison

By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

Just when you think Donald Trump couldn't be more fatuous in word and deed, he proves you wrong.

At a recent cabinet conclave, the president "deemed himself one of the most productive presidents in American history--perhaps Franklin D. Roosevelt could come close, he conceded--and proclaimed that he had led a 'record setting pace' of accomplishment," wrote The New York Times' Julie Hirschfeld Davis.

"Never mind that Mr. Trump has yet to sign any major legislation, or that his White House has been buffered by legal and ethical queries surrounding the investigation into his campaign's possible links to Russia and his firing of the FBI director who has been leading that inquiry."

Next came fawning from the faithful. One after another, cabinet members praised the president, each one "taking turns complimenting his integrity, his message, his speech, his policies," Davis added. "Their leader sat smiling, nodding his approval."

I taught American history in a community college for two dozen years. I can think of only one president Trump has, so far, topped in accomplishments: William Henry Harrison.

The 68-year-old Harrison was inaugurated on March 4, 1841. About three weeks later, he caught a cold that turned into fatal pneumonia. "Old Tippecanoe" died on April 4, setting the record for the shortest presidential tenure.

The only thing of consequence he was able to do was call Congress into session.

Trump, a Republican, enjoys a GOP majority in both Houses of Congress. FDR's Democratic Party controlled the House and Senate.

In Roosevelt's first hundred days in office starting on March 4, 1933, his Democratic congress approved 15 major bills. (Since, presidents' achievements have been measured against that tough hundred day yardstick.)

Elected in three more landslides, FDR led the country through the Depression and World War II and established the idea that the federal government was obliged to help people who need help.

Abraham Lincoln, the first Republican president, also believed Washington should "do for a community of people, whatever they need to have done, but can not do, at all, or can not, so well do, for themselves--in their separate, and individual capacities."

The Great Emancipator preserved the Union by leading us to victory in the Civil War. Lincoln and the Republicans also put slavery on the road to extinction, thus advancing us toward the Declaration of Independence's noble words, "all men are created equal."

George Washington, our first president, ably got the brand new ship of state underway in perilous times when the country had few friends and many enemies abroad. He presided over America's crucial transition from a weak confederation of disunited, jealous and often quarrelsome states into a federal republic that would ultimately become the most powerful nation on earth militarily and economically, though most of the country's wealth remains concentrated into few hands--and Trump and his party are committed to enriching the already rich.

Under Washington, we started becoming "one nation, indivisible," though "liberty and justice for all" remains an elusive goal.

Almost every day offers more proof--as if proof were needed--that the emperor in the White House has no clothes. He's "naked (pronounced 'nekked,') as a jaybird," as we Kentuckians say.