Thursday, February 12, 2009

Lincoln @ 200

It is amazing that more than 140 years after his assassination, Abraham Lincoln's stature has only grown. What would he have thought had he known 200 years after his birth he would be arguably the most admired American who ever lived?

You see this admiration in small ways. Lincoln shows up in commercials for sleeping pills as an insomniac's illusion but one you can trust. Not sure when you need to change your tires? Use a penny and if you see the top of Abe's head then you need new tires. If Honest Abe says you need to spend $300 for new tires you don't question him.

Even though President Obama has been in office less than a month he has been compared to Lincoln. Of course, Obama has used Lincoln as a backdrop when he launched his Presidential campaign in front of the Old Illinois State House two years ago or when he spoke in front of the Lincoln Memorial days before his inauguration.

Yet I believe Lincoln has more in common with President Bush than he does with President Obama. In paying tribute to Lincoln in 2007, the Library of Congress noted Lincoln was "considered a simpleton by Civil War-era literati." (

If Lincoln were President of the United States today do you think the chattering classes would admire him? If the Left bemoans the War in Iraq because more than 4,000 soldiers have lost their lives then what would they have thought of the Civil War that cost the lives of more than 600,000 soldiers on both sides?

President Obama bemoaned the Bush Administration for "suspending habeas corpus" when they did no such thing. Yet President Lincoln suspended habeas corpus in April 1861. President Obama demanded Gitmo and is going to do it. Yet President Lincoln had his own Gitmo for high level Confederate prisoners of war on Georges Island in Boston Harbor. I can see it now. "Close Georges Island."

President Lincoln's greatest legacy was ending slavery but it came at a high price. Any noble thing does and the goodness that comes of it is only realized many years after the fact. President Bush ended subjugation for millions of Afghanis and Iraqis but it comes at a high price. The goodness of these acts are still years away from being fully appreciated.

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