Nothing like an uninformed opinion passing as reasoned commentary. That’s what TV pundit land is made of and nobody is more the superficial simulacrum of a thinker than Donald Trump. Trump decided to weigh in on the removal of the statue of Robert E. Lee recently. If you missed his paean to another king of white supremacy, that of one “genius” to another, here it is.
Just watched as a massive crane took down the magnificent and very famous statue of “Robert E. Lee On His Horse” in Richmond, Virginia. It has long been recognized as a beautiful piece of bronze sculpture. To add insult to injury, those who support this “taking” now plan to cut it into three pieces, and throw this work of art into storage prior to its complete desecration.
Robert E. Lee is considered by many Generals to be the greatest strategist of them all. President Lincoln wanted him to command the North, in which case the war would have been over in one day. Robert E. Lee instead chose the other side because of his great love of Virginia, and except for Gettysburg, would have won the war. He should be remembered as perhaps the greatest unifying force after the war was over, ardent in his resolve to bring the North and South together through many means of reconciliation and imploring his soldiers to do their duty in becoming good citizens of this Country.
Our culture is being destroyed and our history and heritage, both good and bad, are being extinguished by the Radical Left, and we can’t let that happen! If only we had Robert E. Lee to command our troops in Afghanistan, that disaster would have ended in a complete and total victory many years ago. What an embarrassment we are suffering because we don’t have the genius of a Robert E. Lee!
Now that you’ve read Trump’s excursion into unreality, come down to earth and read what really happened. Dana Milbank has a column up in the Washington Post and he says Trump’s tribute is not only ugly, it’s fake history. And it won’t surprise you that Trump’s tribute is in fact that of one loser to another.
For a point-by-point grading of Trump’s history paper, I checked in with Ty Seidule, a retired U.S. Army brigadier general and military historian who is the former head of the U.S. Military Academy history department. Now at Hamilton College, he’s the author of “Robert E. Lee and Me: A Southerner’s Reckoning With the Myth of the Lost Cause.”
Greatest strategist of all? “Well, he’s a loser,” Seidule responded. “He wasn’t just defeated; his army was destroyed. The idea that he’s the greatest strategist of all is just ludicrous.” […]
Lee chose the Confederacy because of his great love of Virginia? Seidule said Lee was one of eight U.S. Army colonels from Virginia at the time of secession in 1861. The other seven remained loyal to the United States — as did Virginian Winfield Scott, the U.S. Army’s commander, and 80 percent of all colonels from the South. “Lee’s the outlier,” Seidule said. That may be because at that level of Army officers “no one benefited from slavery more than he did.” Lee ran an enslaved-labor farm — a plantation — from 1857 to 1860. He wasn’t even a resident of Virginia for most of his prewar life; Alexandria, his hometown, was part of the District of Columbia until 1847.
Would have won but for Gettysburg? The day after Gettysburg, Ulysses S. Grant triumphed at Vicksburg, giving the U.S. Army control of the Mississippi River and splitting the Confederacy. Lee’s army couldn’t function without thousands of enslaved people working as servants or in factories and on farms, and after Vicksburg, Seidule said, “they lose all that enslaved labor” as the U.S. Army pushed into the South.
Now this next section I love. General Lee argued against freed slaves having the vote because the said they “couldn’t vote intelligently.” That’s my argument against MAGAs having the vote. We can’t disenfranchise them and to educate them seems an exercise in futility so we’re just going to have to outnumber them.
Greatest unifying force after the war? Grant called Lee’s actions “forced acquiescence” that was “grudging and pernicious.” Though more conciliatory than others, Lee testified to Congress in 1866 that Black residents “cannot vote intelligently” and that “it would be better for Virginia if she could get rid of them.” In 1868, Lee joined in issuing the White Sulphur Springs manifesto, which argued that Black people had “neither the intelligence nor the qualifications … for political power.” Argued Seidule: “His idea of reconciliation is only if the White South is given complete political control over Black people.”
Afghanistan would have been a total victory under the “genius” Lee? If the U.S. military had suffered the same casualty rate in Afghanistan that Lee’s army did, 200,000 American troops would have been killed, not the actual 2,400. Some 400,000 would have been injured or captured instead of 20,000 injured.
“No one has lost more completely in American history than Robert E. Lee,” Seidule said. “There is no general that has been more crushed, more defeated, at the strategic, tactical, operational level. … How much genius does it take to lose absolutely and completely?”
To extrapolate from there, how much “genius” does it take to run for POTUS twice, win by a margin of 80,000 votes in three states, lose the popular vote decisively both times, and then be defeated by the largest margin in history the second time? Because that’s Trump’s record. No wonder he loves Robert E. Lee so much. They’re soulmates, both handling jobs that were way over their heads and which they ended up getting for the worst of reasons.
Lee was a traitor for sure but he wasn’t a dumbass as a military commander. He also had gifted (more than him in at least one case IMHO) generals under his command he actually listened to and gave much authority to. His greatest assets however were luck and for lack of a better term poker skills. Prior to Grant taking over in the east Lee benefited from (most of the time) inept, indecisive, not exactly cowards but fearful/feckless opposing generals, generals generally sympathetic to the south/slavery or some combination of those factors. And he used that knowledge of his opponents the way a great poker player judges theirs at the table.
A great example is Lee’s calling McClellan’s bluff at Antietam (yes, in three days Gettysburg had more casualties but Antietam was the single bloodiest day in our country’s history) by turning and offering battle to a vastly superior force. Even if/when his divided army was reassembled in one place it was still going to be outnumbered three to one. McClellan knew this but didn’t attack. Nor the next day when Lee’s riders were out locating two other main groups to tell them to get the hell to Antietam post haste. Escape back over to the Potomac was still possible at that point. When it was suggested to Lee he should order his army back to safety in Virginia Lee replied there would be no battle that day and perhaps not even the next. He knew his opponent and McClellan’s lack of courage and will. Lee proved correct and the scattered elements of his army arrived as the battle finally unfolded.
Arguably the Union won although a good case can be made that it was a draw. Still, we had far more troops to sacrifice to the meat grinder of that war so it was a decisive blow against Lee. Worse, by the time the battle was over and Lee had no choice but to try and withdraw back into Virginia he couldn’t because the recent rains had finally swollen the Potomac River making it impassible for a time. And STILL McClellan didn’t press the attack. He could have finished off the main Confederate Army in the east and killed or captured Lee and the other commanders and didn’t. Lee bluffed like a poker player and his bluff wasn’t called.
Lee’s contempt for northern Generals prior to Grant was to an extent justified, although at Gettysburg it cost him. That’s another and longer story but the point remains that until Grant took over and engaged in total warfare with a subordinate (Sherman) who would put unrelenting pressure on him instead of being afraid to take on the “great” Lee, Lee could be put in that class of famous and powerful people for whom the old saying “It’s smarter to be lucky than it’s lucky to be smart” was coined.
But Lee was a vile, racist man and a dishonorable one at that. Things being the way they were at the time his wife’s inheritance was controlled by him instead of her. That meant that for all the willful cruelty he inflicted on his slaves, despite their having been granted their freedom by his father-in-law in Custis’ Will & Testament Lee refused to do so. He even ignored a court order to do so. Had the courts not pursued the matter and Lee been faced with the specter of being the defendant in his own criminal proceedings he’d have never (grudging to the end) complied with his duties as Executor of Custis’ estate. That’s the sort of “honor” Lee had.
He was a no good piece of shit TRAITOR and while I agree with Lincoln’s sentiment that most of the Confederates who fought for the south should have been paroled and allowed to go home, top leaders like Lee and Jefferson Davis should have been held accountable. Either by fleeing the country never to return (which it’s said Lincoln would have been okay with as the humiliation of running away would damage their standing in the former confederacy) or tried and executed for treason.
As for Afghanistan there is good reason it was long ago labeled the graveyard of empires. As with others before him Genghis Khan couldn’t conquer it. Nor has anyone since. The combination of tribalism and enclaves of tribes within tribes within tribes all the way down to a given mountainside or valley combined with the geography make it simply too challenging. And despite belief to the contrary that times are different, that with modern things like advanced (beyond walking, mules and horses) transportation and telecommunications that people will open up and become not just trusting of people from outside their own little patch but some distant government in the city (or another city) is futile.
If that sounds crazy to you then I suggest you look within our own country and the region known as Appalachia and some adjacent parts that aren’t technically part of Appalachia. The people in those little towns and hamlets, and especially those “up in the hollars” have a helluva lot more exposure to modern things and opportunities (including at least some basic public education) than most of Afghanistan. Still, we marvel at how resistant they are to change. That they would rather try to grind on in abject poverty than even consider, much less actually adopt advice from outsiders and/or take advantage of programs specifically designed to train them on making enough to have a halfway decent place to live in and a decent diet.
When you consider that, and IMHO only then do you begin to understand the folly of our leaders ever having believed that despite a thousand years of historical examples on which to draw believing that WE, a society too dominated by Christianity of all things could succeed where so many before us have failed.
A lot of people from Appalachia would like jobs that pay and won’t kill them, but they have governors and congresscritters who are owned by coal and maybe oil and can’t see past the folds in their wallets. They like Biden’s ideas, they want the GND, and they’re ignored.
In the past, they could get out and move West or to the cities and do well, but that’s now too expensive. (My father’s family came from that area; one of them was a Big Name in vocational education between 1915 and 1950.)
I was in Welch, W.Va. recently. Small town of supposedly 3k+. On a beautiful Saturday am, with old, formerly nice buildings in town, NO ONE was downtown. All the stores were closed or boarded up. These folks are POOR. Yet, their senator, sucking the tit of the fossil fuel industry, WONT SUPPORT BIDENS PLAN TO HELP HIS OWN STATE. What a lying asshole.
It’s the little things that reaffirm for me how stupid Trump is:
“…NOW PLAN TO CUT IT INTO THREE PIECES, AND THROW THIS WORK OF ART INTO STORAGE PRIOR TO ITS COMPLETE DESECRATION.”
If you cut up a statue and throw it into the storage, that doesn’t happen PRIOR to its desecration, that IS the desecration. He doesn’t understand the meaning of basic words and how to structure a sentence that has multiple clauses.