Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Obama vs. Lincoln?

Over at NRO Michael Knox Beran criticizes Obama for "trivializing" Lincoln.

Not only that but he says, Lincoln's "political schtick" was liberty, while Obama's is community.

Maybe. But that's certainly arguable. When it came to liberty, Lincoln wasn't willing to allow southern states the liberty to go their own way out of the union. He brought all the military might he could bare to prevent that from happening.

He also suspended habeus corpus during the Civil War.

As for being pro-liberty, the freeing of the slaves was a tactic, a highly moral one, but at tactic in what many southerners still call the "war of Northern aggression."

Yesterday, at a Martin Luther King Jr. service event, Obama said "we can't allow any idle hands."

Conscription, anyone?

Obama may have more in common with Lincoln than Beran cares to admit.

Still, as Beran writes:

Lincoln’s career teaches something else that the new president might bear in mind. Lincoln presided over a vast expansion of the powers of the federal government. So almost certainly will President Obama. Lincoln made clear that his own enlargements of coercive authority were temporary. His “strong measures,” he said, would not outlast the emergency: America would no more come to rely on such measures after the crisis passed than a man would “contract so strong an appetite for emetics during temporary illness as to persist in feeding upon them during the remainder of his healthful life.”

The question is does Obama feel the same way about the coercive authority of government.


Blogger steve mcdonald said...

I think we could make comparisons that could draw Lincoln closer to Bush than Obama at this point. Oh, just look at the trouble I'm causing here!

While Obama does share a similar path to the White House as Lincoln, separated by the branch of the Capitol they came from, I think Obama would be better served to take pages from the playbooks of FDR and Reagan in dealing with the current situations before him, although I don't believe that creating an overabundance of government departments with three letter acronyms will solve this crisis.

January 20, 2009 at 2:36 PM 

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