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Thursday, August 12, 2010

Barrack Obama and Abraham Lincoln, Revisiting the Comparisons

How does Barack Obama stack up against his idol, Abraham Lincoln? Many compared his desire to be the Great Unifier to Lincoln. He was the first Black president, and would be the first “post-racial” chief executive.

For my liberal friends, brace yourselves; you’re in for a hard ride. If you are


read on.

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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 Lincoln

After 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 War

Lincoln 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 War

Lincoln 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.

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.
and ...
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 ...
Rations at Andersonville Prison
The deliberate starvation and murder of Confederate prisoners.

Obama’s Wars

Obama, 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.

The Economy

Lincoln’s Economy

Lincoln 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 Economy

Obama’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.


Lincoln 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.
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.
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 Demeanor

Lincoln 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 Behavior

Instead 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 Enemies

Lincoln 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.

Your Comments are Welcome Here

Have a great day!


(*Wikipedia is always my source unless indicated.)

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Anonymous said...

I have to say, this is one of the best blogs I've seen. Bravo.

mysteryms said...

Holy Moley! LOVE this blog. So complete and concise. And beautiful too. Great job!

Marcy (TheArtCollab) said...

This is a great blog! I like that it gets to the facts, instead of a bunch of opinion. I'm not even a political person, but it makes me interested in politics. Will pass this on to my friends.

Rock said...

Thank you Anonymous, mysteryms, and Marcy for your very kind comments.

I hope you come back!

Emily Hill said...

Dear 'Rocky II' from Torrance, CA,

Well, most definitely You are on my 'Blog Watch', now that I've discovered You. I am a civil war historian and historical fiction author. This past month I spent a week in D.C. researching the Lincoln administration and it baffles me that he has the hero-worship status that he does.

And, this is proclaimed by a progressive leftist. History is written by the victors, and never was this so true as in the case of the long-martyred Mr. Lincoln.

Rock said...

Emily, thanks much for your comment. And I especially respect, as you say, that you criticize Lincoln as a progressive leftist.

So it might be logical that I hold Lincoln in high esteem, being a conservative.

I think he save lives with his policies, defeated slavery, and united the country. I think more politically correct tactics would likely have lead to more death and possible disunion forever.

Again, though, I appreciate your views and thank you for your passion.

Unknown said...

Thank you for creating a site that is user friendly and interesting! Blogs I read were so insightful!

Unknown said...

While I believe in the comparisons and research behind the article, I must say that the Presidents before our time are seen by the youth through films and TV mostly. It raises skepticism I believe. A very intriguing article, especially since Lincoln is my favorite.

Rock said...

Thanks so much, Oscar, for your comment. I agree with you. Lincoln is my favorite of all time, both for his good and bad. His bad was done in order to save the Union and abolish slavery. Not that all ends justify the means, but in this case, it did.

Have a great day!

Rock said...

Thanks so much, Margie!

John said...

I was surprised and shocked to learn that "Our Greatest President" (A True Republican) was such a treacherous and murderous and vengeful viper. I always thought of him as a meek and mild religious man with Bible flowing out his mouth on every possible occasion. I should have know better. The vaunted "Honest Abe" was, after all, a successful attorney who represented the interests of several prosperous railroads of his day, correct? Oh how things can change in the light of revelation. Thank you for showing me the character of this Great Republican President in such a new and stark light. I think I prefer my Liberal Revisionist version of him--smiling..Honest..industrious..liberator of slaves...icon of national values...God!

Erebus Horror said...

Hey Rock just checking out yor blog - good set up you've got going. Really interesting content too. When I get a bit more time I'll be sure to scour everything you have to offer

Rock said...

Thanks, Erebus. I look forward to your comments!

Rock said...

John, correct me if I'm wrong, but you do seem to be quite liberal or progressive, judging by your assessment of Abe. That's fine. But it does show the clear distinction between the left and the right.

The things that horrify you about Abe make me admire him even more. He saved our Union, freed the slaves, and ended a bloody war that would have gone on for decades if he hadn't fought so ferociously.

War is awful, but fighting it politically correct, IMO, causes more death and suffering. I'm for less suffering, not for rules of engagement that prolong wars.

I'd prefer Lincoln than anyone we now have running our wars. Iraq and Afghanistan both should have ended years ago. Why haven't they? We fight always with our hands tied behind our backs. We should win or get out. Even the great Sun Tzu (Art of War) said the public will not support prolonged wars.

I appreciate your sentiments, and again say, we need both the left and the right, your opinions and mine.

Have a good one!

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