Lincoln & Obama

Lincoln & Obama

(Written at the beginning of Obama’s presidency)

I find it interesting that Obama, his team and the syrupy press are doing everything in their power to compare Obama to Abraham Lincoln. Overall, I find the lengths people are going to, to make this comparison somewhat tortured.

The Chicago Tribune writes:

“Obama traveled to the capital by retracing the final stages of the train trip Lincoln made to assume the presidency, beginning the fanfare for an inaugural celebration in which the Great Emancipator will be an unmistakable presence.

  “With an official theme for the festivities taken from the Gettysburg Address, Obama will appear at the martyred president’s memorial for a televised concert, take the oath of office on a Bible used by Lincoln and even attend an inaugural luncheon that will feature favorite Lincoln foods.”

If Obama wants to pick Lincoln as an example to emulate this is a good thing, but to claim the mantle of a great man, one must first do similar great things. Some miserable failures have gotten elected president so that by itself is not a claim to greatness.

It is beyond dispute that both men were from the state of Illinois but beyond this any comparison becomes strained.

One of the most common comparisons is that they were both good speakers. This may be roughly true, but the manner of delivery between the two men was as different as night and day. Lincoln was often criticized by as being a low level hayseed. This never happens to Obama who is seen by them as a polished orator.

One would think that Lincoln’s most famous speech, The Gettysburg Address, would have received worldwide acclaim, just as Obama’s speeches do, but here is what the press in his home state said about it:

  “The cheek of every American must tingle with shame as he reads the silly flat and dishwattery remarks of the man who has to be pointed out as the President of the United States. … Is Mr. Lincoln less refined than a savage? … It was a perversion of history so flagrant that the most extended charity cannot view it as otherwise than willful.” (From The Chicago Times)

  “The President succeeded on this occasion because he acted without sense and without constraint in a panorama that was gotten up more for the benefit of his party than for the glory of the nation and honor of the dead … we pass over the silly remarks of the President: for the credit of the nation we are willing that the veil of oblivion shall be dropped over them and that they shall no more be repeated or thought of.” (From the Harrisburg Patriot and Union)

And if you think Lincoln was loved abroad the way Obama is; read and weep:

  “The ceremony was rendered ludicrous by some of the sallies of that poor President Lincoln. Anything more dull and commonplace it would not be easy to produce.” (From the London Times)

Now keep in mind that this was the commentary of the Press on his best speech – The Gettysburg Address. Imagine how they must have castigated the poor fellow on his less profound ones.

The manner of speaking for the two men was extremely different. Lincoln collected stories his entire life and had virtually thousands of them floating around in his head. He injected them into both his regulator conversations as well as his public speeches whenever he could. Now one reason the media hated his speeches was that many of his stories included in them were funny, but very politically incorrect for his day. He was often accused of being vulgar and low class.

On the other hand, the common people loved his stories and found then as funny as the dickens. Some were even published in a book and became a best seller.

The high and the mighty, however, were often offended by them for another reason. Lincoln’s stories were so concise that they often made the powerful and the pious look ridiculous.

Another huge difference is that Lincoln was a Republican and Obama a left leaning Democrat.

Now some today say that if Lincoln were alive today he would be a Democrat, but there is no evidence to support this. Circumstances and issues have changed since 1860 but the approach to them by the two parties is still about the same. Lincoln and his party were polarized in the left brain, mental — common sense way of looking at things and the Democrats were right brained and emotionally polarized in their approach. This is still the same today as it was back then. Only the intelligence of the people involved fluctuates from decade to decade.

The relationship of Lincoln to the media vs Obama to the media is perhaps the most glaring difference. The media all over the world have a love affair with Obama and the media all over the world hated Lincoln. Lincoln ignored the media as much as possible but when they became treasonous and hurt the war effort, he shut some of them down and had editors thrown in jail. It’s a good thing modern presidents do not try to be like Lincoln in this area or they would have been crucified.

An example of modern treason was when the media published top secret activities of tracking Osama bin Laden’s cell phone activities. He read about this and immediate ditched his phone and we have never been able to track him since. We probably would have captured Osama bin Laden 6 or 7 years ago if not for this and other treason.

I could go on here, but let me end with a note of hope. It is a good thing that Obama is studying Lincoln and wants to be like him. Maybe Lincoln’s words and works will steer him in the right direction. Let us hope.

Kill them with success and bury them with a smile. Harvey Specter

Jan 18, 2009

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