"Andrew Jackson had a great history," Trump told Matt Lauer on NBC's Today. "I think it's very rough when you take somebody off the bill. Andrew Jackson had a history of tremendous success for the country."
He added that while Tubman is "fantastic," he'd like to see her on "another denomination" — maybe the $2 bill, or maybe a new bill altogether — and leave Andrew Jackson where he is.
"Yes, I think it's pure political correctness," Trump said. "Been on the bill for many, many years and really represented — somebody that was really very important to this country. I would love to see another denomination, and that could take place. I think it would be more appropriate."
Decrying "political correctness" is classic Trump, and it's a problem
"Political correctness" is a favorite boogeyman of the conservative movement in general, but it's particularly true of Trump and his supporters. That's one reason why Trump seems to be immune to "gaffes" — his supporters see him as a courageous iconoclast who "tells it like it is," even if it's offensive. Or perhaps especially if it's offensive, because that's when you know he's hit a nerve and is getting at the hard truths that weak liberals don't want you to hear.
As it turns out, though, this philosophy is also a handy way to excuse — and even celebrate — racism, sexism, and general bullying behavior. So it's no wonder that Trump, who is well known for his racism, sexism, and bullying, would embrace it.
There are plenty of good reasons to be upset about the Treasury Department's decision to put Tubman on the $20. There's the fact that keeping Jackson on the back of the bill forces a former slave to share commemorative space with an avowedly racist slaver. There's the fact that changing the $20 bill instead of the $10 bill means that we have to wait until 2030 to see the change enacted. There's the idea that it's problematic to celebrate Tubman by putting her on money at all, given her lifelong fight against slavery as a capitalist institution.
But being upset about it because it's too "politically correct" to replace a very controversial white male president with a universally celebrated black woman abolitionist is, well, at best resistant to change or naively indifferent to historical oppression, and at worst incredibly racist, as the Breitbart News comment section showed us on Wednesday.
Trump's admiration for Jackson is pretty terrifying
Not surprising, really, given what we know about Trump. But still terrifying.
As Vox's Dylan Matthews points out, Jackson was an unrepentant slaver who committed ethnic cleansing against Native Americans, as well as indiscriminate war crimes against "soldiers, enemies, whatever." He also declared martial law once, and his zealously anti-government, anti-bank monetary policies crashed the economy and led to one of the worst depressions in American history.
This is the guy Trump says brought our country "tremendous success."
Of course, Trump could be thinking of Jackson's other accomplishments, like preventing South Carolina from seceding from the Union, or winning Florida from Spain without provoking all-out war. He was also the only president to ever completely pay off the national debt, even though it only lasted a year and was quickly followed by economic chaos. Limited-government conservatives have plenty to admire in Jackson, even though limited government isn't really Trump's thing.