Senator Obama, you’re no Abe Lincoln

President-elect Barack Obama is many things, including a groundbreaker in the world of Presidential politics but his obsession with comparing himself to Abraham Lincoln is starting to rub some Presidential historians the wrong way.

They say Obama’s ego is out of control when it comes to his constant comparisons of himself to Lincoln and they point to the President-elect’s brazen attempts to overemphasize his place in history.

Lincoln, they point out, was known for his humility. Obama, they add, is known more for his lack of it.

Reports Politico:

In Barack Obama’s appearance last month on CBS’s "60 Minutes," the conversation turned to the president-elect’s long-time love of Lincoln.

"There is a wisdom there," Obama told interviewer Steve Kroft, "and a humility about his approach to government, even before he was president, that I just find very helpful."

Humility? Obama’s frequent invocations of Abraham Lincoln — a man enshrined in myth and marble with his own temple on the National Mall — would not at first blush say much about his own instincts for modesty or self-effacement.

And now there are early rumblings of a backlash to Obama’s ostentatious embrace of all things Lincoln, with his not-so-subtle invitations to compare the 44th president to the 16th, the "Savior of the Union."

Simply put, some scholars think the comparisons have gone a bit over the top hat.

Sean Wilentz, a scholar in American history at Princeton, said many presidents have sought to frame themselves in the historical legacies of illustrious predecessors, but he couldn’t find any examples quite so brazen.

"Sure, they’ve looked back to Washington and even, at times, Jackson. Reagan echoed and at times swiped FDR’s rhetoric," said Wilentz. "But there’s never been anything like this, and on this scale. Ever."

Comments

  1. AustinRanter

    Just for the Hell of It…

    Here’s my take on ad hominine and intelligent reflection stuff.

    In a forum such as CHB, ad hominine fallacies are committed all of the time. When a poster makes comments or opinions that force the reader to engage in assumptions in order for that reader arrive at some logical validity of the argument or statement, I guarantee that somebody is going to get their feelings damaged. Assumptions conjured up by one person resulting from comments or claims made by someone else don’t always lead to the same set of truths by the person making the assumptions. Chances are…the opinion or comment poster will hear about it.

    The same applies for articles posted by the editor. But, in this case, while the link to the article written by Harris and Burns doesn’t punch you in the nose…it’s posted with the article. And it’s obvious that the article posted on CHB forces one to make some assumption about the authors’ premise regarding Obama’s numerous mentions of Lincoln’s character and abilities as a president. But, it’s also obvious that all of the dots aren’t connecting to make any final conclusions about the authors’ message, which then requires the reader to look for a grander understanding, which forces the reader to go straight to the source. Man…that’s a mouth full.

    The assertions made by Harris and Burn in their article, which could clearly foment the emotions of Obama fans (and I too voted for Obama), were the product of their observations (or somebody’s) of Obama’s repeated comments regarding Lincoln. Despite their assertions, each reader can still agree or disagree with the opinions by Harris and Burns and their cited opinions by so-called experts or historians.

    So…pick your poison. Based on what you’ve read, it’s either a Yea or a Nay…is Obama trying to imprint the vision of Lincoln on our minds each time we see him…or not?

    Thus far, have I screwed up the intelligent reflection part?

    By the way, pigeonholing is a favorite pass-time of our government members. And, intelligent reflection isn’t frequently sought after by these members. Intelligent reflection is bad for business. Ad hominem shots appear to be an important element of the life-blood of politicians. I can’t image a politician getting elected without them.

  2. Doug Thompson

    I’ve found that, for partisans, "intelligent reflection" is pychobable for "support my candidate no matter what he (or she) does."

     

  3. jzelensk

    Questioning is one thing. Ad hominem shots (which the Lincoln piece clearly is) are just immature.

    There are a lot of people who are not “Obamacons” (gosh, how easy and mindless it is to dismiss commenters by pigeonholing them…) who nevertheless would like to see intelligent reflection.

  4. Doug Thompson

    I voted for Obama. I like him. I just have some problems with some of his actions since the elections. I’ve written a number of very complimentary columns about him.

    You claim the lead-in to the article is not supported by the Politico article that provides the basis for the post. Let’s examine it in detail:

    Our lead in:

    President-elect Barack Obama is many things, including a groundbreaker in the world of Presidential politics but his obsession with comparing himself to Abraham Lincoln is starting to rub some Presidential historians the wrong way.

    They say Obama’s ego is out of control when it comes to his constant comparisons of himself to Lincoln and they point to the President-elect’s brazen attempts to overemphasize his place in history.

    Politco:

    And now there are early rumblings of a backlash to Obama’s ostentatious embrace of all things Lincoln, with his not-so-subtle invitations to compare the 44th president to the 16th, the "Savior of the Union."

    Simply put, some scholars think the comparisons have gone a bit over the top hat.

    Our lead-in:

    Lincoln, they point out, was known for his humility. Obama, they add, is known more for his lack of it.

    Politico:

    Sean Wilentz, a scholar in American history at Princeton, said many presidents have sought to frame themselves in the historical legacies of illustrious predecessors, but he couldn’t find any examples quite so brazen.

    "Sure, they’ve looked back to Washington and even, at times, Jackson. Reagan echoed and at times swiped FDR’s rhetoric," said Wilentz. "But there’s never been anything like this, and on this scale. Ever."

    Eric Foner, a Columbia historian who has written extensively on the Civil War era, agreed that comparing one’s self to Lincoln sets a rather high bar for success, and could come off like "a certain kind of hubris."

     

  5. adb8917

    Sorry, Doug, but I’m not having it. I did go to the Politico AND Wikipedia site for the background, all of which was accurately reported.

    I’m talking about the prefatory remarks… If you did that, so be it. But my comments aren’t about being a crybaby; they’re about accuracy and accountability. It’s becoming increasingly clear that you personally don’t like Obama, and I think that intrudes on your otherwise useful iconoclasticism.

    You’re making it personal, and I think that’s too bad…

    ADB

  6. Doug Thompson

    ADB, Politico wrote the flipping article. The post points, with a link, to the article in Politico, which is bylined by John F. Harris & Alexander Burns. Try clicking on the link and reading the full article. I know some of you Obamacons want to jump all over anyone who has the gall to question your annointed saint but I would hope that you would at least know how to click on a link.  Jesus, what a bunch of crybabies.

  7. adb8917

    Who wrote the flippin’ article and why did the CHB editors — including Mr. Thompson — let it get posted anonymously? C’mon guys, fess up!

    ADB