New York business mogul who became president — but we are not talking Trump
De Agostini / Biblioteca Ambrosiana/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Scott Greenberger is very familiar with the rise of a wealthy New York businessman with limited political experience turned president. But he isn’t talking about President Donald Trump.
Instead, Greenberger, author of “The Unexpected President: The Life and Times of Chester A. Arthur,” joined ABC News’ “Powerhouse Politics” this week to talk about the similarities between Trump and the nation’s 21st president, Chester A. Arthur.
“They are both wealthy New Yorkers who both made their money in ways that were not completely above board,” Greenberger said on ABC News’ “Powerhouse Politics.”
Like Trump, Arthur had little political experience before entering the Oval Office. After practicing law in New York City, Arthur gained notoriety as the collector of New York City’s Customs House for a highly controversial, corrupt political machine led by Republican Sen. Roscoe Conkling — a machine that gained infamy under the political patronage and spoils system.
Despite pushback from President Rutherford B. Hayes, Arthur served as James Garfield’s running mate and became vice president of the United States in 1884. Following Garfield’s brutal assassination, many had reservations about Arthur’s capacity to lead the nation.
“Most striking is the attitude of the country as Arthur prepared to take office. You read the newspaper accounts from then and they could be the one’s from eight months ago,” Greenberger told ABC News’ Jon Karl and Rick Klein. “Most Americans were terrified. He was viewed as corrupt, unqualified and unfit.”
A woman named Julia Sands frequently wrote letters to Arthur, urging him to rise to the occasion. The notes resonated with him, spurring him to promote civil rights and clean up what was perceived as government corruption. Greenberger states that daughter Ivanka Trump’s voice may have a similar influence with Trump.
“Perhaps for a while people thought that Ivanka would play the Julia Sand role. A young woman who would play the conscience of the president,” Greenberger said, adding, “Again it’s not clear at this point that’s what is happening.”
Despite the trials and tribulations Arthur experienced during his presidency, Scott credits the former president for his “transformation.”
When asked why most present-day Americans may not remember the 21st president, Scott replied, “He was so ashamed of the politician he had been before becoming president that he ordered almost all of his papers to be burned upon his death.”
Despite the backlash Trump has received in recent days from his comments on NFL players kneeling during the national anthem and delayed assistance in hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico, Scott said there’s plenty of time to witness his transformation.
However, he added, “Eight months I think is fair to say that he is the same guy we saw during the campaign.”
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