Lincoln's Memo to Obama
On the bicentennial of Abraham Lincoln’s birth, a distinguished biographer muses on the counsel the Great Emancipator might offer the new president who so often invokes him.
Illinois senator Everett Dirksen observed 50 years ago, “The first task of every politician is to get right with Lincoln.” As the inauguration of President Barack Obama converges with the beginning of the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial, it is intriguing to think about what Lincoln might say across the years to the new president. In recent election campaigns many politicians, both Republicans and Democrats, have tried to associate themselves with Lincoln. President Obama has moved far beyond the invocation of Lincoln’s words to patterning his political spirit after his 19th-century model. Again and again Obama has buttressed his vision for America by beginning, “As Lincoln said. . . .”
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Ronald C. White Jr. is the author of A. Lincoln: A Biography, published in January by Random House. His previous books include Lincoln’s Greatest Speech: The Second Inaugural (2002), and The Eloquent President: A Portrait of Lincoln Through His Words (2005).more from this author >>