Jack­son switch tricky in D.C.

The Denver Post - - NEWS - By David Weigel

If you blinked, you missed it, but con­ser­va­tive au­thor and doc­u­men­tar­ian Di­nesh D’souza briefly shared a his­toric moment with Twit­ter fol­low­ers — the de­liv­ery of his book, “The Big Lie,” to Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s best­known na­tion­al­ist ad­vis­ers.

The irony, which I was not the first per­son to pick up on, was all about the con­tents of that book. “The Big Lie” is the lat­est in D’souza’s ap­par­ently end­less series of books about the “un­told his­tory” of the Demo­cratic Party, one that he re­counts by quot­ing the his­to­ri­ans who’ve al­ready told it. It builds on a theme from “Hil­lary’s Amer­ica,” his 2016 book/doc­u­men­tary twofer — that the ori­gins of the party, as An­drew Jack­son’s pop­ulist ma­chine, make Democrats the fore­fa­thers of Amer­i­can and in­ter­na­tional geno­cide.

“It was the Demo­cratic Party un­der its founder, An­drew Jack­son, and then un­der Jack­son’s Demo­cratic suc­ces­sors, that mas­sa­cred the In­di­ans and drove them west and presided over the ig­no­min­ious Trail of Tears,” D’souza ex­plained in a book pre­view pub­lished last week via Bre­it­bart. “This is the ac­tual prece­dent that Hitler ap­pealed to in for­mu­lat­ing his plans of con­quest, dis­pos­ses­sion and en­slave­ment.”

That ad­vanced an ar­gu­ment D’souza made in 2016, that Jack­son “es­tab­lished the Demo­cratic Party as the party of theft” and ran­cid pop­ulism.

“He mas­tered the art of steal­ing land from the In­di­ans and then sell­ing it at give­away prices to white set­tlers,” D’souza wrote. “Jack­son’s ex­pec­ta­tion was that those peo­ple would sup­port him po­lit­i­cally, as in­deed they did. Jack­son was in­deed a ‘man of the peo­ple,’ but his pop­u­lar­ity was that of a gang leader who dis­trib­utes his spoils in ex­change for loy­alty on the part of those who ben­e­fit from his crimes.”

Here is the prob­lem. The Democrats of 2016 dis­pute none of these de­scrip­tions of Jack­son. By the time “Hil­lary’s Amer­ica” hit the screen, the ma­jor­ity of state Demo­cratic par­ties were scrub­bing Jack­son’s name from their fundrais­ing din­ners. A largely left-wing move­ment to re­move Jack­son from the $20 bill suc­ceeded un­der Pres­i­dent Barack Obama.

But seven months ago, Obama handed power to the most full-throated sup­porter of An­drew Jack­son in re­cent pres­i­den­tial his­tory: Don­ald Trump. His chief po­lit­i­cal strate­gist, Stephen K. Ban­non, con­stantly evokes Jack­son and po­si­tions Trump as his heir.

“I don’t think we’ve had a speech like that since An­drew Jack­son came to the White House,” Ban­non said of Trump’s in­au­gu­ral ad­dress.

“Jack­so­nian” has been bent into many mean­ings. But this isn’t com­pli­cated — Trump, in his quest to evoke Jack­son, went so far as to visit the Her­mitage on the sev­enth pres­i­dent’s 250th birth­day. D’souza’s re­vi­sion­ist his­to­ries will prob­a­bly keep fly­ing off the shelves, but it’s tricky to yoke the mod­ern-day Democrats to a legacy that the mod­ern-day Repub­li­can pres­i­dent is de­mand­ing for his own.

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