If you read The Way of Improvement Leads Home or my Why Study History?: Reflecting on the Importance of the Post you know that I am a big fan of Thomas Andrews and Flannery Burke’s “5 Cs of Historical Thinking.” They are Change Over Time, Context, Causality, Contingency, and Complexity.
Today has been a big day in American political history as the GOP starts the process of rejecting its own presidential nominee after the release of a 2005 tape of Donald Trump degrading women.
Last night, in a prepared video, Trump “apologized” for his remarks. Trump’s statement included the line: “Anyone who knows me knows these words don’t reflect who I am.”
In interpreting this sentence, any historical thinker would immediately place it in CONTEXT. In this case, the context is dozens and dozens of similar derogatory remarks Trump has made about women in the past.
Of course there are other ways to think historically about Trump’s “apology.” For example:
How should Trump’s apology be understood in the CONTEXT of the entire 2016 campaign?
How should Trump’s apology be understood in relationship to the Bill Clinton political career and Hillary’s involvement in it? (CONTEXT)
How should Trump’s apology be understood in the context of what Susan Wise Bauer has described as “The Art of Public Grovel?”
How does one interpret Trump’s claim that he is a different man now than he was in 2005? (CHANGE OVER TIME?).
These are just a few ways of thinking historically about Trump’s midnight apology. There are certainly others. I welcome your suggestions in the comments.