CautionFor my liberal friends, brace yourselves; you’re in for a hard ride. If you are
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1988 Vice-Presidential Debate
During the 1988 vice-presidential debate between Democrat Senator Lloyd Bentsen and Republican Senator Dan Quayle, Quayle said, “I have as much experience in Congress as Jack Kennedy did when he sought the presidency.” Bentsen replied, “Senator, I served with Jack Kennedy, I knew Jack Kennedy, Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you're no Jack Kennedy.”
That put-down drew cheers and applause, stunning Quayle and sealing his reputation as a deer-frozen-in-the-headlights communicator, a sort of warm-up for the inarticulate George W. Bush. Like W, though, Quayle’s side won the election, under the leadership of W’s father, George H. W. Bush … despite people misunderestimating Danny Boy.
It would be oh-so easy to say something similar to Bentsen’s remark in comparing Barrack Obama with Abraham Lincoln. “Barrack, we know Abraham Lincoln, sir …” And we’d be entirely correct in that assessment. Lincoln was our finest president.
This article, though, is not entirely a bashing. Neither is it praise. Rather, it is an exhortation, on bended knee.
Comparisons to LincolnAfter all, Obama and his followers, including thrill-up-his-leg Chris Matthews are to blame for the Lincoln comparisons. Before Obama had even spelled out his positions, before he had any accomplishments besides community organizing, he was being compared in liberal quarters to big Abraham. Matthews said of Obama’s 2008 speech on race, that it was “worthy of Abraham Lincoln," and also claimed it bypassed Martin Luther King Jr.'s ‘I Have A Dream’ address as the "best speech ever given on race in this country."
Obama himself liked the idea of emulating Honest Abe, and steeped himself in Lincoln lore. He quoted Lincoln often, as when in the final push for the 2010 healthcare bill he said “I am not bound to win, but I'm bound to be true. I'm not bound to succeed, but I'm bound to live up to what light I have."
So, the question is a fair one, even this early in his presidency. How does Barrack stack up to our greatest president? I’m certainly no Lincoln expert, but I’ll offer a few comparisons.
Inheriting WarLincoln inherited a war, or rather, his election was one cause of that war. (See The Top 9 Events that Led to Civil War by Martin Kelly)
With the election of Republican candidate Abraham Lincoln on November 6, 1860, South Carolina, followed by six other states, seceded from the Union. Even though his views about slavery were considered moderate during the nomination and election, South Carolina had warned it would secede if he won. Lincoln agreed with the majority of the Republican Party that the South was becoming too powerful, and made it part of their platform that slavery would not be extended to any new territories or states added to the union.Obama, of course, inherited a war he did not support, in Iraq, and one he did, in Afghanistan. The Civil War was an existential war, whereas the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars were meant to combat terrorism and brutality. Lincoln embraced the Civil War as a noble cause, whereas Obama rejected the Iraq War as a mistake, and treated the Afghanistan War as just something we had to do.
Lincoln’s WarLincoln was ready to do anything to win his war, including the suspension of habeas corpus, harsh imprisonments, death squads, and Sherman’s notorious march.
Among papers found with Sherman were plans from the Lincoln government for a war of terrorism to be waged systematically against women and children in the South. These included detailed instructions, with illustrations for the soldiers. Houses were to be pillaged and then burned, along with all farm buildings and tools, and standing crops. Livestock was to be killed or carried away, and food confiscated or destroyed.and ...
Particular emphasis was laid on destructions of family heirlooms – pictures of dead loved ones, Bibles, wedding dresses, and pianos. There were also directions as to how to persuade, or coerce if persuasion failed, black servants into divulging the whereabouts of hidden valuables.
The fact is, the Lincoln government intentionally targeted civilians from the very beginning of the war. The administration's battle plan was known as the "Anaconda Plan," because it sought to blockade all Southern ports and inland waterways, and starve the Southern civilian economy. Even drugs and medicines were on the government's list of items that were to be kept out of the hands of Southerners, as far as possible.Charges made against Lincoln by detractors include:
Suspending the writ of habeas corpus and interfering with the press without due process, imprisoning thousands of citizens without charge or trial, and closing courts by military force where no hostilities were occurring.and ...
Obama’s WarsObama, by contrast, offers Miranda rights to prisoners, habeas corpus, and in fact treats War on Terror combatants better than American prisoners.
He fights the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan with Rules of Engagement like … an officer being denied illumination to reveal the position of Taliban fighters who were mortaring his position at night, because the illumination rounds “might cause collateral damage.” The truth is that these rounds never cause collateral damage. This is an example of the hands-tied-behind the back warfare that Obama engages in.
Lincoln’s EconomyLincoln inherited economic hardship. Despite this, President Lincoln built a mighty army, and enacted an extraordinary slate of economic measures, including:
- tariffs that enabled a new American steel industry;
- development of railroads that would extend all the way to the Pacific Ocean;
- agricultural improvements … by agricultural science, free land for farmers, creation of the Agriculture Department, and development of farm machinery and tools;
- enticing immigrants, to rapidly increase population;
- free higher education, through the Land Grant College system;
- and national control over banking, with cheap credit for production.
Obama’s EconomyObama’s economic policy has been to pass a stimulus package laden with pork, seek to eliminate tax cuts for the “rich,” and he has added government jobs, but not private sector jobs.
Still, as opposed to most Republicans, flawed as it is, I credit Obama’s interventions, along with Bush’s, as having saved the country from a Depression. My complaint is, the money could have been spent better, more along Lincoln’s lines, like for infrastructure.
OrationLincoln was a great orator. He spoke pretty words that pierced the heart of matters, much like, but even more elevated than, Martin Luther King, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and John F. Kennedy. The thing that elevated Lincoln’s prose was not only did it have cadence, but it had substance, the appropriate meaning for a country in dire emotional straits. Obama’s oratory, on the other hand, is full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. Compare Obama’s
Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we've been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.with
Government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the Earth.I will say this, Barrack had an auspicious beginning. He did give one quality speech, the (see the video here and read the text) keynote address at the 2004 Democratic Convention. The speech was effective because it was detailed,
My father was a foreign student, born and raised in a small village in Kenya. He grew up herding goats, went to school in a tin-roof shack. His father -- my grandfather -- was a cook, a domestic servant to the British.hopeful,
Through hard work and perseverance my father got a scholarship to study in a magical place, America, that shone as a beacon of freedom and opportunity to so many who had come before.and in it he genuinely reached out to all America,
And fellow Americans, Democrats, Republicans, Independents, I say to you tonight: We have more work to do.something he has forgotten how to do. If he could reclaim 2004, then he might have something there.
The Whiner in Chief
Lincoln’s DemeanorLincoln never complained. Criticism rolled off Lincoln’s back like water on a beaver. He faced a hatred so great that he paid for it with his life, yet he never felt sorry for himself. "With malice toward none, with charity for all.”
Obama’s BehaviorInstead of dwelling in the clouds, like Lincoln, Obama has become a hack politician whiner, one of the whiniest presidents in history, saying things like
First of all, I've got one television station entirely devoted to attacking my administration.Aw, poor baby. He’s only got all the networks cheering him, MSNBC, CNBC, Hollywood, all the educational system, from kindergarten on up to graduate schools—and he must face, heaven forbid, one network that is fair and balanced. Give me a break.
Obama faces some hatred, not to the level of Lincoln, but still a kind of demonization. Yet, his reaction to it is far less noble. Can you imagine at all Lincoln, in his presidential years, saying "You can't have the keys back, you don't know how to drive!" Lincoln would have said something like, “We have our disagreements, but my honored opponents are sincere in their offers to help the nation.”
In fact, when I think of Obama, I think of a whiner. A great big baby, always complaining, always laying blame on everybody but himself, forever a poor me kind of guy. When Obama starts to speak I hear the wha whah whah wah-wah of Charlie Brown cartoons.
Dealing with EnemiesLincoln in fact praised his enemies. “I destroy my enemies when I make them my friends.” He reached across the divide to unite the country. He freed the slaves, but didn’t demonize the slaveholders. In presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin’s Love your enemies: how Lincoln turned his rivals into allies, we meet Lincoln afresh as a leader whose "extraordinary array of personal qualities ... enabled him to form friendships with men who had formerly opposed him." He was the great uniter.
Obama, however, is very Nixonian, waging a boycott on FOX News, strong-arming congressmen who vote against him, and demonizing business, big oil, Wall Street, and all conservatives. Obama reaches across the liberal divide only—badmouthing the rest of the nation.
Fist Bumps?If Lincoln had lived, and Obama succeeded him as president … Abraham would have posed for the “fist-bump” picture at the top of this post … Barrack would not have.
Obama would be too busy criticizing Lincoln for his suspension of habeas corpus and harsh treatment of civilians, leaving him a messed up economy, and any number of “crimes against humanity.” He’d go around apologizing to the world for our slavery transgressions, instead of being proud we were one of the nations that put the final nail in that horrible institution’s coffin. Lincoln led the country to a higher plane, in all respects. Obama leads us to Chicago.
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(*Wikipedia is always my source unless indicated.)
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