The Man Who Would Be King signs his executive orders with a stagy flourish, waving thick leather binders “that look like the menu at Beefsteak Charlie’s,” as Bill Maher said. Take that, Muslims! Die, Obamacare! We’re building a wall, Mexicans!
Directly behind President Donald Trump in the Oval Office as he inks his bundle of biases into edicts is the newly installed portrait of the seventh president, Andrew Jackson, a shock-haired, vainglorious slave driver. Look close enough and you can almost see the dead man smirk: He’s back!
Jackson is that vacant stare on the front of the $20 bill, soon to be replaced by Harriet Tubman — swapping out a man who owned about 150 human beings for a woman who started her life as property. Or maybe this won’t happen after all, given Jackson’s new prominence in the Trump White House.
He is often called a populist, the first people’s president. Jackson was also an unapologetic slave owner, unlike earlier presidents who were troubled by holding people in bondage in the land of the free. To many Native Americans, Jackson is just short of Hitler — a genocidal monster.