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:
- Philip Rucker: White House Bureau Chief at The Washington Post.
— Philip Rucker (@PhilipRucker) October 13, 2018
- Manu Raju: Senior Congressional Correspondent at CNN.
Here are Trump’s comments tonight calling the leader of the Confederate army a “great general” multiple times https://t.co/jCtEdR1NFg
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) October 13, 2018
- David Corn: D.C. bureau chief of Mother Jones, MSNBC analyst.
Seven thousand Ohioan soldiers–fighting for the Union–were killed during the Civil War. Trump praises Robert E. Lee, who led the troops that killed them. And Trump's Ohio supporters cheer. Now that's deplorable.
— David Corn (@DavidCornDC) October 13, 2018
- Beatrice-Elizabeth Peterson: Producer and Reporter at ABC.
President Trump at a rally in Ohio: "Robert E. Lee was a great general."
— Beatrice-Elizabeth Peterson (@MissBeaE) October 13, 2018
- Juan Escalante: Huffington Post Columnist.
During a rally in Lebanon, Ohio, President Donald Trump called Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee "a great general," and said President Abraham Lincoln "almost developed a phobia" over Lee's defeat.
— Juan Escalante (@JuanSaaa) October 13, 2018
- Brent Griffiths: Web Producer at Politico.
"So Robert E. Lee was a great general and Abraham Lincoln developed a phobia, he couldn't beat Robert E. Lee," Trump in Ohio tonight https://t.co/slOUAnB4Ra
— Brent Griffiths (@BrentGriffiths) October 13, 2018
- Rick Newman: Senior Columnist at Yahoo Finance.
Lee actually was a great general, militarily
He also fought to defend slavery
So Trump gets to be militarily correct and racist all at once https://t.co/d43O8PPG9u
— Rick Newman (@rickjnewman) October 13, 2018