How History Will Remember Trump

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S1: If you follow me on Twitter at PEOC a.m., I will not follow the gist at Slate, just we will take it easy on the MEEMS. It’s Tuesday, February 16th, twenty twenty one from Slate’s The Gist. I’m Mike Pesca. And on a day when Donald Trump called Mitch McConnell jaw, or depending on your pronunciation, DAFWA, not only that, but unsmiling. I mean, that must have been the sharpest truth of all, to have the famous happy warrior, Donald Trump w unsmiling Cawdor, immature, poor Dowa Mitch. But we speak not of the news today. We lead with the weather, the chilly, dangerous weather. Good Morning America featured this report. Looks like an ice skating rink.

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S2: There were rolling blackouts here in Texas, but some people lost power on Monday and it never came back. And the temperatures here are in the single digits overnight. Historic and dangerous cold taking aim at millions power lines and trees collapsing from the weight of freezing rain. In New Jersey, a transformer exploding

S1: power transformer exploding, lady screaming imperative tense obtaining reporter warning us even momentary exposure to the elements can be bad yet. GMA next interviews this Texan take a walk in freezer. It’s like thirty four to thirty six degrees. That guy outside saying that sentence, that guy wearing a hooded sweatshirt, possibly a blanket, no hat, no scarf, no gator, no facemask. The wisdom of that unclear. The accuracy of those temperatures inaccurate, as we were just told, that it is single digits in Texas which will freeze meat. This is not a good situation. It’s dangerous. It’s frustrating. And you know who I blame? Jack Frost, yeah, you knew I was going to say it ain’t the single one guy out, but Jack Goddamn Frost, he is always pulling this. And when we can least handle it, why do we let Jack frickin Frost torture us like this always? I hate to point fingers, especially because you know, the frostbite and they can fall off, but it is just irresponsible at this point. Jack Frost and Jack Frost’s enablers. I hate that Jack Frost. I mean, when he’s nipping at your nose, it’s all cutesy Wutty. But people are dying, sir. OK, I kid Jack Frost, but isn’t it odd that we have all manner of natural phenomena that can kill us? We’re mostly respectful to the point of fearful, but there is one to which we assign a cute mascot. There’s no birther earthquake or Hurricane Harry, not even Charlamagne. The hurricane odd. It is just odd the presence of this Jack Frost. Maybe it’s because we don’t think of cold as deadly, but why wouldn’t we? Basically, most of human existence was based on the sentence, cold as deadly. But I guess poor Jack Frost really doesn’t deserve this. He didn’t inspire chestnuts and Mel Torme, but also a bad Michael Keaton movie. Maybe there is a better villain out there and not Jack Frost’s cruel cousin, Roland Blackout, a more bonafied, insidious villain. The storm is dangerous. And there’s a second storm expected to hit this week, which which will make things even worse. So if you can stay home, don’t go out on the roads, don’t risk the ice. Yes, that is Texas Senator Ted Cruz with some sensible advice on the radio today. But when Gavin Newsom, governor of California, tweeted out similar sensible advice when his state was going through blackouts this summer and he tweeted, We must do our part to conserve energy, turn off unnecessary lights, avoid using major appliances. When he tweeted that Ted Cruz jumped on him, all a sneer, tweeting, California is now unable to perform even basic functions of civilization like having reliable electricity. Biden Harris AOC want to make California’s failed energy policy the standard nationwide. Hope you don’t like air conditioning. Well, the Texans don’t need air conditioning now. They need heat. They need power. They need warmth. They need solutions. What they don’t need is a senator who used the opportunity of the suffering of others to advance his political agenda and just to get in a fight. So I will say this. If the shoe is on the other foot, I’m going to be consistent. And if there’s any California politician who uses this opportunity to score points at the Missouri and Texas, I will call that politician out. And until then, I hope that little bit of Ted Cruz resentment can be the ember that warms all of our hearts on the show today. I judge the judgment of history. But first, speaking of energy crises and looming disasters, some countries and municipalities are committed to scrapping cars that rely on internal combustion engines. It is necessary, but is it actually possible? We’re joined next by Polymath Bonventre, former just guest host Sonari Glinton. He’s also a big car expert. Perhaps you could call him an autodidact. I’m hearing you can, but he doesn’t like that. Sonari Glinton up next to talk about who killed the non-electric car. A couple of months ago, the state of California announced no new gas vehicles were going electric and they put a time stamp on it of twenty thirty five. The UK then ups the ante and announces no diesel or gasoline or as they say, petrol, cars and vans will be sold in that country starting in 2030. And then GM and their CEO, Mary Barra, announce, OK, GM sees that and we too will no longer make gas and diesel powered vehicles by twenty, thirty five. I guess they figured if California won’t be buying them, what’s the use of making them? I have so many questions about this and whenever I have a question about cars, the person I most like to talk to is Sonari Glinton, who does so many things, and he reports for public radio and NPR’s Planet Money. And he hosts his own show and he hosts podcast about a famous and beloved car. And he once hosted the gist to great acclaim. He’s back now. Hello, Sonari. How are you? Hello, Mike. When I guess California was the first to announce it, was it seen as reasonable, a pipe dream, an aspiration that how can you really hold the state to that anyway? How is it seen within the people who really understood if this would be possible?

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S3: One, I think we should be the car industry press release, like everyone was talking about the GM thing. And I was like, are we really letting a car company lead this conversation when there’s a new administration, a new head of the Department of Transportation, a new regulatory regime going on in China? GM is essentially not the first guy at the they’re not the first person to show up at the party, if you know what I’m saying. Meaning you’ve got China that, you know, a few years ago that Xi Jinping made the environment an important leg of his economic and political policy. Right. And the scary thing about all of this is what’s happening now for some people is that America is not in the driver’s seat. Oh, look, I did a pun when it comes to electrification, it is not even in the driver’s seat when it comes to the auto industry anymore. What our vehicles, our regulatory regime, even the styling is increasingly led by what China wants. That is where the industry is making the money. That is where the future is, Brazil, Russia, India and China. And I would throw in Africa for the long game.

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S1: So the Chinese being in the driver’s seat, I’ll use the idiom to is that legitimate? Obviously, as a country where the wishes of leadership are more than just, you know, I hope this survives to the next administration. They’re in somewhat of a position to be able to impose their will. But, you know, that doesn’t necessarily mean technology can agree. So is it plausible that China can go gasoline free with their cars within the same kind of time frame we’re talking about with these Western countries and companies?

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S3: It is definitely hard, but I think one of the things that people forget about China is that the Chinese government is really nervous. They do a lot, a lot of polling. And one of the number one issues is the air quality in China. The Communist Party sees as a danger is the environment, politically speaking, the Chinese take the environment more seriously. And then I think you could imagine here, it’s sort of like it’s politicized in a way that it isn’t around the globe. Right. In England, electrification is not a left right issue the way it is pretty much solely here in the US. You know, the problem of the automobile, whether it’s car deaths or pollution, is really genuinely important around around the globe

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S1: in China, is the automobile sector as responsible for as great a percentage of their global greenhouse gas emissions as other sectors? How does that compare to the United States?

S3: Well, it’s you know, clearly in China, they burn coal and they build a lot of coal plants. I mean, one of the things that the Chinese have done is what’s really super interesting is they followed the regulatory regime of the state of California regulators. You know, in order to make a dent in CO2, you have to tackle the automobile. And there was a really bold plan here in California that essentially the Chinese adopt it, which is an interesting thing, because then in America, as we all got on the same page, the state of California, the federal government got on the same page. We had a change in administration. And you had a moment where because of the bailout of the auto industry, the Obama administration had essentially brought the auto. Industry to heal, it could tell it what to do, it could. The auto industry was brought to heel during Obama and then strangely during the Trump administration, the Trump administration literally gave the auto industry more than what it wanted. It needed to invest in electrification and have a reason for it, which was regulatory. Even though, you know, a company like, say, Ford or General Motors is making most of its profits on big SUVs and especially full sized pickup trucks.

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S1: So but what about this? What about how serious? I understand why it’s good politics for Gavin Newsom and for GM, for the UK to say it. But how possible

S3: is it the fact that it’s hard to do and that you’re seeing a lot of sort of consolidation in the auto industry shows that it’s important, the fact that General Motors said twenty, thirty five or that Ford or that Volvo said this decade that they would be electric free. Right. The fact that the money people are shifting their profiles towards electrification, there are a hundred new car models coming out. It takes a billion dollars to make a new car. Right. So the fact that the auto industry is like, all right, we’re going to one hundred models of cars coming out. The place that we haven’t gotten to is the industry gets it. The environmentalists get that. And almost all the governments around the globe get that this is a thing to do. The one important place that people haven’t gotten it is the American consumer. Electrification has not penetrated barely beyond three percent if if three percent in America. And in a way, you’re going to need something to change. Regulatory, really, for the average person who drives a Dodge Ram and gets, you know, 20 something miles a gallon to switch over to something different.

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S1: So it’s there. The technology is there. But for the want of the consumer.

S3: Well, no, the technology is not there is not profitable. That is the key, right. That the carmakers are not making tremendous profits on these cars and where they’re making the profits, they’re making the profits on the big trucks. 90 percent of Ford’s profit comes from the restruck. They’re not making any money anywhere else. Right. But that is why you can tell it’s important when a company like Ford or General Motors, General Motors, makes almost all of its profits on pickup trucks. When they say we’re going electric, that is a sign that things are very, very serious in Europe. You have a problem with they had diesel cars that were extra polluting and there’s a lot of effort to replace those cars. Right. London already has a tax on cars coming in. Right. They’re already there. The Northern Europeans are already there. And when you look at a place like like I said, Brazil, Russia, India or China, India, they cannot have three hundred, four hundred million SUVs getting 20 miles like it’s just physically impossible. And that is where we’re at. It’s like making it profitable. What you’re seeing, though, is companies are are banding together that you would have never thought of to solve this problem. So you see like partnerships that are happening, Honda, General Motors, Toyota, Volkswagen, they’re all sort of creating these unusual new partnerships. There is a big merger between the companies that were Nissan and Fiat with Peugeot. Like I think you’re going to see a lot of consolidation to get the money there. The technology and electric cars is over 100 years old. What we don’t have is the infrastructure yet and the comfort with electrification. If you live on a coast or I live in West Hollywood, Teslas are more ubiquitous than Cadillacs where I’m at. Right. But if you’re in, you know, Chillicothe, Ohio, can you charge for your vehicle? And that’s where the new administration and stimulus comes in, because one of the top priorities in stimulus packages are streets and sanitation, as we say in Chicago, where the Department of Transportation is. Transportation got us out of last recession. It likely is that electrification and autonomy and those things could be the things that pull us out of a coronavirus recession.

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S1: And in fact, the last recession. I note that the Cash for Clunkers program was long seen as the most successful part of TARP and the entire bailout. In retrospect, it turns out to have been one of the least successful. But it does show you that cars and automotive industry has always been central to the definition and the reality of. The US economy, it’s no different with electrification this time,

S3: yeah, and it’s funny because, like in the when you look at around the globe, I’ve noticed this covering the auto industry is that we look at the American automakers as being like, oh, that’s kind of funny. They’re sort of buffoons. And it’s like they don’t think that way in Germany and they don’t think that way. And Japan, you’re like, no, this is I mean, that’s why, you know, it’s a show you how important the auto industry is. That’s how, you know, a guy like Carlos Ghosn, who was the head of Nissan, gets thrown in jail. But this is how powerful the auto industry is. He got out of that Japanese jail. It is fundamental. It’s an eighth to a sixth of our economy and other places. It’s a third. And major governments do not take this lightly. We are way more willing to allow, you know, our industry to fail or falter than our competitors around the globe. The Chinese are not able yet to do many of the things that the American auto industry can do desperate, desperate, desperate for it. We went through a communication revolution in the last twenty years. Imagine a transit revolution and we’re seeing it happen. Now, imagine the car going from Princess Line, you know, dial phone to iPhone. That is what’s in the near future for the auto industry. And that means literally trillions of dollars.

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S1: I think I started by looking at these proclamations by leaders, leaders of country states or industry as a no downside bold thing to say that maybe they won’t be tasked with actually following through on. But from what you’re saying now, I’m looking at a little differently. These are people who are perhaps quite clever at reading the room and reading the environment. And what they’re doing is positioning themselves so that we look at them on the forefront of a movement that is happening without them. So if we give Gavin Newsom credit, he’ll take it. But his stating that California’s going gas free by thirty five doesn’t have much of an effect on the reality of that goal.

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S3: Well, I think it’s like maybe a little more complex than that. The state of California and its regulatory regime is among the most important on the globe. But I where I would correct that is it’s not window dressing when you realize that Xi Jinping, the Chinese premier, set out a plan that goes to 2050 and beyond. Right. And that’s my example. When the Chinese make a plan when I was last in China, they’re like, look, it was really hilarious being a black man in China. There was like, you know, Americans don’t like history. And this woman turns to me, do they like apparently we don’t. We like to think long term. And they’re thinking of becoming the number one economy by the end of the century. And by 2050, they have goals and the goals are in place. So the writing is beyond on the wall. It is in regulatory regimes. It is in the way people are doing things. The auto industry in America, strangely, because of the Trump administration and because of what was happening here in the US, it didn’t know where to go. We didn’t know what the in scenario was right here in the US. It’s clear what’s happening around the globe. And what this announcement is more about is every engineer that I know, every CEO of, every car company I know tells me that this is real. I see it in the amount of money they’re spending. The key question is us. We don’t like change. You know, you ask somebody, you’re like, I can have all the evidence in the world that, like, you know, cars are better, safer than they’ve ever been. And then people are still way say to me, well, you know, they don’t make them like they used to. Like, yeah, thank God they don’t. The smart people at the top of the industries are looking the same way that China is fifty, 80 years out and they’re seeing electrification is real, autonomy is real. If you like driving your car by yourself once a month in the future, we’ll close down the Long Island Expressway and let you go kill yourself there. But we can’t spend three and a half percent of our gross national product and let two hundred twenty thousand Chinese people die every year.

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S1: Yeah, well, luckily, the Long Island Expressway has solved that problem by never allowing anyone to go over 12 miles an hour. But yeah, I get your point. Sonari Glinton is so many things. He is the host of the Bring Back Bronco podcast, or as the Detroit Free Press describes it, bring back Broncho podcast hosted by auto worker Sonari Glinton. He’s also the host. Why do you think he has one? Podcast of the Now What Next podcast, which he’s done a lot, actually, to define for us here today. Sonari, always great to talk to you.

S3: It is a pleasure.

S1: And now the spiel in the judgment of most of the jurors who heard the evidence, Donald Trump committed impeachable offenses, but it didn’t matter because in the judgment of the founding fathers, 57 percent voting for conviction isn’t enough to be convicted. So here we have voices from history intervening in the present, telling us that the president can’t be disqualified. So what force did those who disagree with the verdict turn to to rebut the judgment of history? It was the judgment of history.

S4: At this time. Some of these decisions are even controversial. But history has shown that they define us as a country and as a people. Today is one of those moments in history we’ll wait for. The past will not be past. The past will become our future for my grandchildren and for their children. Senators, we are in a dialogue with history, a conversation with our past, with a hope for our future 234 years from now. It may be that no one person here among us is remembered. And yet what we do here, what is being asked of each of us here in this moment will be remembered. History has found us. I ask that you not look the other way,

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S1: deserves to be permanently discredited.

S3: And I believe he has been discredited in the eyes of the American people

S1: and in the judgment of history. The judgment of history argument is put forth there by House managers. Plaskett, Dean and Senator Schumer is flawed in many ways, predictively normatively in terms of relevance, but even temporarily, because the argument isn’t really even an appeal to history. It’s an appeal to the future, a prediction people who say it want to say is, man, the present situation sucks. But a way to dress that up is to refer to the present as future history and assert that the consensus will congeal around the notion that, yeah, this sucks and it does suck, which almost certainly has nothing to do with history saying so one day. First of all, history is always changing a little bit because new discoveries are made, but mostly because present mores change and history is interpreted through current values. US grant has gone up and down and now up again, mostly having nothing to do with what U.S. Grant did or what we know about what Ulysses S. Grant did. But everything to do with how to weigh the demerits of an administration that had rampant corruption vs. Grant’s commitment to protecting newly freed slaves during reconstruction. So fifty years ago, the lost cause narrative was ascendant. So Grant was diminish. As we come to classify the lost cause idea as a myth and a pernicious one at that, Grant’s reputation gains. Here’s my favorite example of history. Sorry if you’ve heard it before. The historical reassessment around Edmund Ross. Ross was the senator who provided the decisive vote to acquit Andrew Johnson at his impeachment trial. Sorry for prattling on about this guy who died 114 years ago, but the example of Ross was thrust upon me by Rahm Emanuel, who made this reference on ABC’s This Week this week.

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S3: I would say I’ve figured out my Hanukkah gift for every Republican senator

S1: JFK book Profiles in Courage, because they need that book. One of those profiles in courage was Edmund Ross, courageous as seen by Kennedy or his ghostwriter, Sorensen, because Ross stood firm against his own party’s entreaties to convict Johnson, thereby holding the country together. I was in the 50s when the book was written. Today, there’s some new evidence that Ross was likely bribed, but mostly a massive reassessment that convicting Johnson would have been the right thing to do. Bravery get seen as cowardice. Now, I’m not saying that we shifted our view on Ross regarding a Senate impeachment vote that because of that example changed. It’s likely that every example around a Senate impeachment vote will change and that Trump ism will be vindicated. I’m saying that so many, many reassessments could intervene. Who knows? Maybe history will regard the trial as a distraction to what, in retrospect, is seen as a much more crucial agenda item, the covid relief package or something else that we’re not even foreseeing. Maybe a non disqualify Trump will go on to disqualify himself in some way. And without the acquittal, he wouldn’t have been given the rope to hang himself. Maybe in a hundred years every decent right thinking person will have the attitude. You know what? I can’t back the decision of any of those senators because they’re all meat eaters. I don’t have sympathy for any meat eater and don’t. Tell me they didn’t know because fake meat had been invented and they still chose to serve cow chili in the Senate cafeteria more. Yes, darling, I know it’s hard to even hear those words. I don’t like to say them, but we must not avert our eyes are huge, soulful eyes. I posted some of my thoughts on Twitter, not the kind of stuff. And by the way, if you want a truncated beta stage version of the thoughts that sometimes become the spiel at Pesca, am I be OK? Don’t. But I did tweet this. Everyone saying history will remember is assuming that Trump ism will ultimately be defeated, because if it’s not, he becomes the proverbial winner who gets to write our history. Which is true, I said, agreeing with myself. But a person did reply. I believe in a hundred years. There are two things that will remain in elementary school history books. One, that this president invited a violent insurrection against the U.S. Capitol and to that he was the first president to ever be impeached twice. So it’s not unreasonable. I bet a majority of people listening to this believe that those two historical firsts and that historical aberration is sure to be remembered. And maybe it’s true that almost nothing else will be remembered. But I do think the time frame was interesting. Right. He said in a hundred years, because a hundred years ago, the president was Woodrow Wilson. He had two weeks left in his term. Then he would give way to Warren G. Harding and Harding, by the way, was elected by the largest margin in the popular vote history other than Jefferson, Madison and Monroe. He was true to that wide margin of victory, extremely popular throughout his presidency, died in office. It was the cause of mass grieving. And today he is universally regarded as one of the four or five worst president in American history. But I’m not talking about Warren G. Harding. I’m talking about Woodrow Wilson, who was regarded for most of history as one of the best presidents when they started ranking presidents in Arthur Schlesinger, started in nineteen forty eight. He was ranked fourth. And then his next survey came out in the early 60s and Wilson was ranked sixth for most of the 20th century. Wilson was regarded as a very good to great president. And then, well, then is now quote, a recent New York Times article and a biography of Wilson. Woodrow Wilson achieved a lot. So why is he so scorned for a sentence under that headline? Historical memory has not been kind to Woodrow Wilson. Well, it was exceedingly kind until it wasn’t kind at all. The historians remembering him in the earlier part of the 21st century. We’re talking about the year 2000, 2004, still ranked him top ten, but today his name has been taken off the buildings at Princeton. The point is, history isn’t a thing that remembers. It’s a constant process of assessing and reassessing and doing so, reflecting the prevailing values of the present time. When that reflecting is being done, it’s a rumor heard through a tin can on a string, seen through a mirror. Still, we ask historians to come on TV because historians understand how to understand things after things happen. So therefore they could give us an assessment of things before they’re done happening. This is like asking a restaurant reviewer to predict how many stars shall give a dish after looking at but not even tasting the ingredients. Still, Alexis Ko, who’s great, who’s been on this show and it’s smart and fun, obliged MSNBC just before I lose you. She was on for about a minute and a half. Ari Melber asked that question just before I lose you. I did want to get

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S3: you, though, on do you think history will judge this this failure to convict today as the right or the wrong

S1: call?

S5: Overall, I think it’ll be the wrong call. I think that the Senate did not fulfill their obligations to constituents and it really would have been meaningful to see testimony. We didn’t have that moment in which McCarthy was asked, have you no decency? And even if it wouldn’t have made a difference, it might have to the country.

S1: Look, I agree today, February 16th, I agree as far as a prediction of if it will be meaningful or important or even recognizable to future generations, I bet even Alexis would say there’s really no way of knowing. In fact, I know Alexis would say that I asked her and she put history will judge in the context of a kind of soothing thing that we tell ourselves as we pass the buck. She says, quote, Oh, we can’t do it since he’s no longer president. Oh, look, there will be a criminal investigation. But wait, history will judge. We’re always thinking it will work out for us because it almost always does. And that sort of shortsightedness and exceptionalism hasn’t done us much good. Yes, that is another downside of relying on. The history will deliver us a comforting verdict argument. Because the better point and why you say that is because we need to acknowledge the present has failed us. We don’t reach for history, will judge us during triumphs, do we? We don’t need to. In fact, when I say I don’t know, the wall is coming down or gay marriage is legalized there, Obama is elected. We say we’re living. Through history, where the role we ask history to play as the solver of wounds, the amplifier of successes and the wise Vindicator, in fact we wrongly think of history as having the qualities of a God, all knowing, all wise, which got me to thinking maybe there is a logical fallacy, an appeal to history, because that’s what I think is going on right now, a fallacious appeal to history. There is not that’s not recorded in any of the logic textbooks I consulted, but there is an equivalent argumentum ad Aalam described in logic textbooks as an ancient dangerous fallacy, a deluded argument from ethos of claiming to know the mind of God or history and appeal to the heavens argumentum ad Kalume. In fact, saying history will judge is basically the secular equivalent to saying, I know you’re going to hell. I guess the difference is we know for certain there is such a thing as history, whereas hell is just the theoretical concept. So we say if there is a hell, Donald Trump will be tortured there for eternity, whereas the if about Donald Trump in history is more a question. If Donald Trump is remembered as a hellish figure or if history moves in torturous ways and his misdeeds escape its judgment, just as they have thus far escaped punishment in the present. And that’s it for today’s show, Shannara lives in Michigan, the land of the car, and yet she’s all about the recumbent bicycle. Just producer Margaret Kelly doesn’t know how history will judge Trump if you mean Donald Trump, but Eric Trump, that got screwed. Alicia Montgomery is executive producer of Slate podcasts and she wonders about Tiffany Trump. Here’s an item, by the way, from the Cambodian press. In 2014, Sara Potshot, aka Pol Pot’s only daughter, was the centerpiece of a two day ceremony held in Cambodia’s Mellet district. It was attended by friends, family and local monks, in addition to at least one alleged war criminal. The just I don’t know how Donald Trump will be remembered by history books, but Trump is already being noted in thesauruses with synonyms being dishonest, vulgar, bullying and thin skinned. I did not find classI among the adjectives whom Sudeep Reddy. And thanks for listening.