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John Adams Blog

The blog of The Antient and Honourable John Adams Society, Minnesota's Conservative Debating Society www.johnadamssociety.org

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Bush and Lincoln

Robert Kuttner in the Boston Globe today recommends that President Bush should read the latest biography on Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin. For anyone who knows anything about history, the column is a good laugh (and also just another Bush Bash). My favorite line:

Lincoln had an unerring sense of when public opinion was ready for partial, then full abolition of slavery, and he would not move until he felt he had the people behind him. He governed by listening and persuading. By contrast, Bush's entire presidency is about eking out narrow victories, not about building national consensus. Even when he prevails, Bush wins by manipulation and stealth. His legacy is deepened division and bitterness.

What is this guy talking about "eking out narrow victories?" I don't recall Lincoln having to deal with razor thin majorities in the House and Senate. Lincoln had a solid majority because the opposition wasn't showing up (they were succeeding). The entire South hated Lincoln enough to go to war the moment he got elected, and Kuttner is argues that Lincoln is a consensus builder? How absurd. Kuttner implies Lincoln waited to get consensus to issue the Emancipation Proclamation. That is false. Lincoln waited for victory at Anteitam Creek (or at least not a loss) to issue the Proclamation.

Here are some other great quotes from Kuttner:

Despite civil insurrection, Lincoln resisted broad intrusions on democratic rights. Bush runs roughshod over liberties.

Does Kuttner recall that Lincoln suspended Habeas Corpus? How can he make such a statement?

Bush's visits to Iraq are choreographed media events. Lincoln often went to the front on horseback or by ship, almost alone, shunning news coverage, to confer at length with his generals, thank the troops, and educate himself.

How ridiculous is this statement. The Civil war was being fought 5 miles from the White House. Does Kuttner think Bush should get his sword out and lead the troops into battle. I don't recall FDR or Woodrow Wilson visiting fronts? Besides, you don't have to visit fronts to confer with your Generals anymore. Has Kuttner ever heard of video phone?

Critics of the more moderate William Seward, Lincoln's secretary of state, claimed that Seward functioned as acting president. Goodwin makes clear that this was fantasy. Dick Cheney, however, really does operate as de facto president.

I guess when you read this last line, you realize this guy is just a plain old partisan ass (who also knows nothing about history).

Kuttner seems to think that Bush should compromise with the Democrats because that is what Lincoln did. But Lincoln never compromised. He was the most divisive president ever in American history. Lincoln was successful because stuck it out and didn't crumble under the pressure. Compromise during the civil war meant ending the war and breaking up the Union. We should be thankful that Lincoln remained divisive.