Opinion: Is there room for one more on Mount Rushmore?
The four faces chiseled on Mount Rushmore have an uninvited guest.
Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt look down at Donald Trump, as he saunters and shouts into the wind.
Trump gets down to business: Any room at the top?
“Many people say” he’s one of the greatest presidents ever. Already. He praises the four on their “fantastic” real estate.
Nothing like Trump Tower, he adds, but he’d like to have his face on the cliff, too. Now. Why wait? It would be the best thing ever for his brand.
The truly great presidents exchange glances as if to say, “No, not until rocks rise up and glaciers return to South Dakota.” Three of the four were Republicans, and Trump acts like it’s a done deal.
“I’m the boss of all Republicans, even you dead guys,” Trump says. “Or I could bulldoze and use this granite for the wall.”
“Beware the ides of March,” Jefferson says softly. (He speaks softly always, and even did at his own inaugural address.) “That is the day that Caesar died.”
By that day, March 15, the Senate will take a tough vote on Trump’s national emergency declaration to build a border wall. In a rare show of spirit, several Senate Republicans will join Democrats in opposition, so the unusual power grab will likely fail.
George Washington was above the fray of his day — Virginian perfection on a white horse. He dressed and danced like a dream. Besides, as a general, he won a seven-year war: the Revolution.
“Sir,” says Washington, the first stone-cold face to speak to the bumptious upstart trying to crash the club. “How kind of you to come. If I had called upon you to join the frozen Army at Valley Forge, along with Alexander (Hamilton) and Aaron (Burr) — fine young officers — would you have honored the struggle as a patriot soldier?”
Trump doesn’t miss a beat. “George, bone spurs go back a long way,” he says glibly. Secretly, he’s too smart to join the Army, any army. He manages to not say that aloud.
Lincoln is next. Jefferson defers to the younger man. They have an uneasy friendship. The Virginian gentleman, Jefferson has tried to get on Lincoln’s good side for years now. The two men, one born to Southern slaveholding wealth and luxury, and the other to dirt farming, are night and day. They discuss the Civil War a lot on Mount Rushmore. Lincoln radically destroyed the privileged-planter’s life Jefferson led.
Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence, wrote the line that Lincoln took as gospel — that “all men are created equal” — as he presided over the Civil War. He based the Gettysburg Address on it. Neighbors in posterity, Lincoln still sees Tom as a brilliant hypocrite.
“We watched your speech at CPAC (Conservative Political Action Conference),” Lincoln tells Trump. “You are a man of many words.”
Roosevelt chimes in, “Two hours, the longest president’s speech ever on record. Bully for you!”
Trump feigns modesty. “How long was the Gettysburg Address?”
“Two minutes,” Lincoln replies. “I’m not like you.”
Irony is lost on the visitor. Jefferson jumps in: “My friend, Abraham, did the right thing, not the easy thing. I regret so many of my people, enslaved, were sold at my death.”
“What was your crowd size at Gettysburg?” Trump responds, not listening. “You guys had your wars. I have mine against fake news, the witch hunt, immigrants, Nancy and Chuck. I have it much worse.”
Washington sighs. “This is not what we froze and fought for.”
Jefferson says, “This is not the dream of Philadelphia.” Philosophy, architecture, the separation of church and state — he decided to skip those questions and play the fiddle instead.
“What do you do all day?” Roosevelt asks, his voice on edge.
“I meet the enemy,” Trump says. “Twitter and Fox are working for me. My half of the people love me. I talk to my lawyers. All in a day’s work. But the White House — what a dump. … Just between us.”
He adds, “Teddy, I saw your books. You started the trouble over public lands.”
Trump turns to leave. “Don’t think I won’t,” he says shortly, to all.