Trump spoke in Ohio, the birthplace of General Ulysses S. Grant, tonight, and praised both Lincoln, for recognizing Grant’s potential to succeed where so many other generals had failed, and Grant, for having the willpower to do what was necessary to defeat Lee, but you wouldn’t know that if you watch network news. Naturally, the media kicked into overdrive to remake his speech as an endorsement of Robert E. Lee and the Confederacy.
Cam Edwards of NRA TV’s Cam and Company does a much better take down of this ridiculous narrative than I could put together, and I’d suggest you go read it. He gives a great summary of the historical background and the Union’s many failures before Grant was handed the reigns.
And here are Trump’s actual remarks, emphasis added:
It also gave you a general who was incredible. He drank a little bit too much. You know who I’m talking about right? So Robert E. Lee was a great general. And Abraham Lincoln developed a phobia. He couldn’t beat Robert E. Lee.
He was going crazy. I don’t know if you know this story. But Robert E. Lee was winning battle after battle after battle. And Abraham Lincoln came home, he said, ‘I can’t beat Robert E. Lee.’ And he had all of his generals, they looked great, they were the top of their class at West Point. They were the greatest people. There’s only one problem — they didn’t know how the hell to win. They didn’t know how to fight. They didn’t know how.
And one day, it was looking really bad. And Lincoln just said, ‘You,’ hardly knew his name. And they said, ‘Don’t take him, he’s got a drinking problem.’ And Lincoln said, ‘I don’t care what problem he has. You guys aren’t winning.’
And his name was Grant. General Grant. And he went in and he knocked the hell out of everyone. And you know the story. They said to Lincoln, ‘You can’t use him anymore, he’s an alcoholic.’ And Lincoln said, ‘I don’t care if he’s an alcoholic, frankly, give me six or seven more just like him.’ He started to win. Grant really did — he had a serious problem, a serious drinking problem, but man was he a good general. And he’s finally being recognized as a great general.
But Lincoln had almost developed a phobia, because he was having a hard time with a true great fighter, a great general Robert E. Lee. But Grant figured it out. And Grant is a great general, and Grant came from right here.
But even with all that context, somehow only his mention of Robert E. Lee made the headlines. NBC News led the charge with a selectively edited video that cut out all references to Grant. It would’ve taken a mere minute of Googling to realize this was a false narrative, but these seven journalists don’t care about accuracy or the truth:
- Beatrice-Elizabeth Peterson: Producer and Reporter at ABC.