No comparison between Lincoln and Obama 93

 Michael Medved in Townhall refutes arguments that find resemblances between the career of President Lincoln the Republican and Candidate Obama the Democrat.  (Read the whole thing here.)

 Aside from the vast differences in the scope of their political involvement, Lincoln and Obama followed sharply divergent paths in pursuit of their private sector careers. Obama chose to devote himself principally to the non-profit world: spending years as a community organizer, lecturer at the University of Chicago, and civil rights lawyer. Lincoln, taking a break from full-time politics in 1849, aggressively built up his reputation and personal wealth as a business lawyer, particularly for railroads. He handled more than 5,000 cases, and became known as one of the top corporate attorneys in the state, if not the nation.

  Lincoln also compiled another experience that Obama never approached. In 1832, he responded to the governor’s call for volunteers and enlisted in the militia to battle a bloody Indian threat in the Black Hawk War. He quickly won election as captain of a company of volunteers, and years later said he “cherished that honor…more than nomination for the presidency.” Though he never experienced a major battle in his ninety days of service, Captain Lincoln learned the responsibilities of command and the need for quick decisions and adaptability in dangerous situations.

  Finally, Lincoln displayed admirable consistency in his approach to the issues of the day throughout his political and business career. He remained a proud American nationalist determined to strengthen the union, as well as a dedicated foe of the extension of slavery. He pursued these goals relentlessly on the state and national level and the same commitments, obviously, animated his eventful presidency.

  Obama’s career, on the other hand, shows no evidence of long-term engagement with particular issues or even broad aims. Hillary Clinton could boast of her leadership for more than sixteen years in efforts to reform the health insurance system but Obama (beyond eloquent backing for a deliberately vague concept of “racial justice”) can point to no lodestars that guided him in his wanderings and adventures, no national controversies that consistently engaged his attention. The backtracking, revisions and gauzy evasions characterizing the nineteen months of his presidential campaign look anything but Lincolnian in terms of predictability.  

  In short, the dramatic contrasts with Lincoln reveal far more about Obama than do the strained efforts to recast him in the sixteenth president’s image. At the time he announced his presidential candidacy, Obama remained so little known, so novel and exotic and unprecedented, that his campaign itself claimed to deliver some sort of radical change. Lincoln, on the other hand, had become such a familiar fixture (and fixer) in American politics by the time he ran for president that his campaign took on a reassuring, well-worn aura: they called him “Old Abe” despite his relatively youthful age of 51. No contemporaries questioned Lincoln’s candidacy on the basis of lack of experience while all impartial observers of the contemporary season note Obama’s absence of preparation for the world’s most challenging job.

  Today, of course, Old Abe’s immortal words and deeds remain so compelling and fresh that even 143 years after his death, they seem perpetually young. For Obama, on the other, the gimmicks and platitudes (“We are the ones we have been waiting for!”) that seemed so fresh and vital a year ago have already begun to wear out their welcome and seem increasingly stale, tarnished, tired – and old. 

Posted under Uncategorized by Jillian Becker on Wednesday, September 10, 2008

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