Saturday, February 10, 2007

Obama and Lincoln




From the AP:

Barack Obama announced his bid for president Saturday, a black man evoking Abraham Lincoln's ability to unite a nation and a Democrat portraying himself as a fresh face capable of leading a new generation.

I know I haven't spent a lot of time learning the ways of Washington. But I've been there long enough to know that the ways of Washington must change," Obama said to some of the loudest applause of his 20-minute speech.

He tied his announcement to the legacy of Lincoln, announcing from the building where the future 16th president served in the state Legislature.

"We can build a more hopeful America. And that is why, in the shadow of the Old State Capitol, where Lincoln once called on a house divided to stand together, where common hopes and common dreams still live, I stand before you today to announce my candidacy for President of the United States of America," Obama said.

Curiously, at the height of the Civil War, President Lincoln's situation is more similar to the current beleaguered Commander in Chief than the upstart Freshman Senator from Illinois. Here is a speech President Lincoln gave to an Ohio Regiment returning from the battlefield in 1864:
I suppose you are going home to see your families and friends. For the service you have done in this great struggle in which we are engaged I present you sincere thanks for myself and the country. I almost always feel inclined, when I happen to say anything to soldiers, to impress upon them in a few brief remarks the importance of success in this contest. It is not merely for to-day, but for all time to come that we should perpetuate for our children's children this great and free government, which we have enjoyed all our lives. I beg you to remember this, not merely for my sake, but for yours. I happen temporarily to occupy this big White House. I am a living witness that any one of your children may look to come here as my father's child has. It is in order that each of you may have through this free government which we have enjoyed, an open field and a fair chance for your industry, enterprise and intelligence; that you may all have equal privileges in the race of life, with all its desirable human aspirations. It is for this the struggle should be maintained, that we may not lose our birthright--not only for one, but for two or three years. The nation is worth fighting for, to secure such an inestimable jewel.
This tone, one could argue, is more reminiscent of speeches President Bush has given over the past several years, since the United States commenced OEF/OIF.
Interestingly enough, The language the Democratic Presidential candidates now use as they announce the start of their campaigns is actually more in line with their party in 1864 than that of Lincoln. In fact, the 1864 Democratic Presidential Platform was largely based on citing the Civil War a failure and ceasing hostilities (although George McClellan, the Democratic Presidential candidate, disagreed with this portion of the platform.) Clement Vallandingham, who was offered as McClellan's Secretary of War in the '64 election, was a member of the Copperhead faction of the Democratic Party, who" nominally favored the Union but strongly opposed the war, for which they blamed abolitionists, and they demanded immediate peace and resisted the draft laws. They wanted Lincoln and the Republicans ousted from power, seeing the president as a tyrant who was destroying American republican values with his despotic and arbitrary actions. Some Copperheads tried to persuade Union soldiers to desert. They talked of helping Confederate prisoners of war seize their camps and escape. They sometimes met with Confederate agents and took their money. The Confederacy encouraged their activities whenever possible. "

Senator Obama will no doubt be an interesting candidate; the media certainly loves his biography, and he exudes rock star charisma. And the War on Iraq is not the American Civil War, either.

But it takes more than residence and political office in the fine state of Illinois to travel in the footsteps of Lincoln. Abraham Lincoln, as a wartime commander in chief, maintained a vision of final victory in the War between the States, and did not waiver from his ultimate goal of securing victory, although he radically adjusted his policies (and his generals) as the war raged. There was little talk of defeat or failure in Lincoln's orations, only the necessity for victory, and afterwards, healing.


And Lincoln was a Republican, in any case.

UPDATE: This post was inspired by none other than the great Gateway Pundit, who commented on Sen Obama''s announcement HERE.

3 comments:

The Gentle Cricket said...

I'll grudgingly admit that Obama is certainly charismatic. Yet, he lacks enough experience and a clean background. Furthermore, in my opinion, he stands on the wrong side of too many issues (Iraq, health care, etc...). He's charismatic, but too liberal to be elected.

Papa Ray said...

"but too liberal to be elected."

Oh, I wish that were so. How many liberals have fooled the American voter.

Several, way too many.

My mother always told me to beware of those with a slick look, sweet mouth and who talks ill of others.

He qualifies on all counts.

Papa Ray
West Texas
USA

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