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Donald Trump has been President of the United States for three years now and the leader of the Party of Lincoln. But he wields this power like no one in America’s history. Abraham Lincoln himself was under constant siege not just by Democrats but by Republicans as well. Unlike Trump’s unctuous Treasury Secretary, Steven Mnuchin, who grew fat parasitizing the broken mortgages of millions of Americans, Lincoln’s, Salmon P. Chase, spent the Civil War trying to replace Lincoln in the 1864 election. While Abe had to bide his time and smile Trump has the power of life or death over every Republican in Congress save the heroic Mitt Romney.
Like my Grandfather who once recited the names of every president from Washington to LBJ for me I love American history. I’ve attempted to honor some of our Presidents with snow sculptures. My first was Bill Clinton who played his saxophone down my sloping front yard and, courtesy of the AP wire service, showed up in newspapers from the Atlantic to the Pacific. When Bill’s star dimmed, I turned to Mount Rushmore to remind myself that we expected more from our leaders. When the Packers won the Superbowl I impishly added Clinton to the tableau standing below the gods of Democracy looking up to his betters. Then I put a cardboard Cheesehead on Bubbah’s head like a dog’s cone of shame.
I never felt compelled to honor Bill’s successor, George Bush, but after his deadly foray into Iraq I sculpted the three wisemen of Christmas as a reminder that they hailed from the lands that we put under siege. When UMD’s disabled community asked me to sculpt an image of America’s most famous polio victim, Franklin D Roosevelt, I found one of only two photos ever taken of him in his wheelchair and sculpted that.
My final tribute to a president was a sculpture of Barack Obama holding a globe in his hands. I’ve always regretted that I gave him a round Charlie Brown head even if the face was recognizable. It’s my featured Facebook photo.
Then in 2016 the loutish Donald Trump who ridiculed the looks of his rival’s wives and accused their fathers of assassinating President Kennedy demanded something vastly different than a tribute. Ten months before he was elected, I sculpted him with his trademark snarl and a threatening forefinger leveled at the drivers along Duluth’s East fourth Street. I gave the beauty pageant magnate a tiara. After he became President, I made him the Grinch looming over a sign reading “Make Whoville Great Again!” I passed on mocking him in year-two but at the beginning of his third year Trump became Baby New Year with startling Cheeto colored skin. It perfectly matched the president’s maturity, but it may have offended one of his fans who decapitated the yellow headed the baby.
And now, after shooting an innocent on 5th Avenue, I mean, withholding evidence from Congress during his impeachment and trial, Donald Trump keeps his Congressional eunuchs under close surveillance. He’s evolved from bully, to grinch, to toddler to a man dissolving our union. Until the weekend heat wave melts my work, I’ve sculpted him as he is - a saffron ghoul with a shit eating smirk presiding over the attempt by a union blue coat and confederate rebel to run each other through at Gettysburg. You may remember that name. It’s where Abraham Lincoln gave our nation’s greatest speech - that Donald Trump has never read.
Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate — we can not consecrate — we can not hallow — this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. 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, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
Harry Welty strains to uphold the values of his Republican forbears with a hint of wit at www.lincolndemocrat.com