Chuck Todd, MSNBC Historian Hope That Unlike Trump, Biden Can Be Like Lincoln

MTP Daily host Chuck Todd concluded his Thursday show on MSNBC with historian Michael Beschloss by commemorating the 157th anniversary of President Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. For Todd and Beschloss, the anniversary was another reminder that President Trump is a failure, but that there is hope that Joe Biden could be the Lincoln-esque figure the country needs.

After reading an excerpt from the speech, Todd compared the Civil War to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, “Let me do another excerpt here because in some ways I think when you hear it I think you think of COVID as the background music here.”

After reading the famous conclusion, Todd struggled with the concept of trade-offs as he declared, “Look, this is not a perfect parallel here, but I feel like the virus, this is a war against this virus that has divided us, Michael. And absurdly so. To the point of, I mean are you kidding me, right? And yet the victims are those that have died.” 

If dividing the country over COVID is “absurd,” what role did hostile cable-news anchors have? Do they get to say only Trump is “absurd” for making this a political issue? 

Beschloss agreed with Todd and offered up some strange praise of progressive icon Woodrow Wilson:

They are. 1918, 1919, Woodrow Wilson basically publicly the influenza pandemic that killed 675,000 Americans. He never gave a single speech on it or told people how to protect themselves, but he doesn’t pit Americans against one another in saying if you wear a mask, it makes you silly and turning life-protecting measures into a political act, that is something that Donald Trump has done and what remains for Joe Biden is to come in and try to unite the country and end those differences. 

As the author of a book on the history of wartime presidents, Beschloss knows that Wilson threw people in jail for thought crimes, but that did not stop him from claiming, “Very rarely in American history have we seen a president for four years trying as hard as trump has to pit Americans against each other and ignoring a big job of the presidency which is the one job in the entire American government where the founders hope that this would bring Americans together, not rend them apart.” 

This from the network that has never seen a Trump-Russia conspiracy theory or dictator analogy it did not embrace.

Todd then asked, “You know, Michael, I have had some dark thoughts in the last few weeks. Are we in the 1950s or the 1850s? You know where I’m going here. Which is it?”

Beschloss concluded the segment by saying the 1950s, “If by that you mean we have problems that won’t degenerate into civil war, but that really depends on leadership and the eagerness of Americans to come together and I think that depends on who’s president. And the one thing throughout American history that makes a difference is if you have a president that says ‘”I’m going to be the president of all of the people even while I’m proposing policies, that some people may not like.”‘ 

This segment was sponsored by Liberty Mutual.

Here is a transcript of the November 19 show:

MSNBC

MTP Daily

1:54 PM ET

CHUCK TODD: Well, you have a little more optimism than I do right now and it is nice to have. Let me do another excerpt here because in some ways I think when you hear it I think you think of COVID as the background music here, “it is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

 Look, this is not a perfect parallel here, but I feel like the virus, this is a war against this virus that has divided us, Michael. And absurdly so. To the point of, I mean are you kidding me, right? And yet the victims are those that have died. 

MICHAEL BESCHLOSS: They are. 1918, 1919. Woodrow Wilson basically publicly the influenza pandemic that killed 675,000 Americans. He never gave a single speech on it or told people how to protect themselves, but he doesn’t pit Americans against one another in saying if you wear a mask, it makes you silly and turning life-protecting measures into a political act, that is something that Donald Trump has done and what remains for Joe Biden is to come in and try to unite the country and end those differences. Very rarely in American history have we seen a president for four years trying as hard as trump has to pit Americans against each other and ignoring a big job of the presidency which is the one job in the entire American government where the founders hope that this would bring Americans together, not rend them apart. 

TODD: You know, Michael, I have had some dark thoughts in the last few weeks. Are we in the 1950s or the 1850s? You know where I’m going here. Which is it? 

BESCHLOSS: I think we’re in the 1950s. If by that you mean we have problems that won’t degenerate into civil war, but that really depends on leadership and the eagerness of Americans to come together and I think that depends on who’s president and the one thing throughout American history that makes a difference is if you have a president that says “I’m going to be the president of all of the people even while I’m proposing policies, that some people may not like.” 

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