December 24, 2005


What Bush could learn from Lincoln (Robert Kuttner, December 24, 2005, Boston Globe)

MY CHRISTMAS present to George W. Bush is a copy of Doris Kearns Goodwin's splendid study of Lincoln and his Cabinet, ''Team of Rivals." President Bush believes in redemption, and so do I. Here are just a few things Bush might profitably learn from our first Republican president.

Lincoln assumed the presidency at a time when the nation was horribly divided, not into culturally warring ''blue" states and ''red" ones, but into a real civil war between blues and grays -- the states that stayed in the Union and those that seceded. Even among the unionists, Lincoln's own Republican Party and Cabinet were bitterly rent between those who wanted to accelerate emancipation and punish the South and those who gave top priority to keeping the Republic whole.

Lincoln's priority, always, was to preserve the Union and to reduce the sectional and ideological bitterness. As Goodwin brilliantly shows, he did so by the force of his personality and the generosity of his spirit.

One doesn't expect liberals to have any historical knowledge, after all, history refutes their ideology, but every American has to be aware that Lincoln killed 600 or 700 thousand fellow citizens to re-establish unity. With Democrats upset that the President is monitoring calls by terrorists it's hard to believe they'd support an actual war against folks who are anti-American.

Posted by Orrin Judd at December 24, 2005 8:07 AM


And the Democrats whom Lincoln invited into his Cabinet wanted to kick a** on the Rebels. And, while war casualities mounted, not a one of 'them' voiced objection. Oh, maybe, that the Union wasn't killing enough of them fast enough; but not that we were fighting the wrong cause. What percentage of the vote did McClennan get?

Posted by: Fred Jacobsen (San Fran) at December 24, 2005 8:37 AM


The best part? What access to courts did the Rebel POWs get?

Posted by: oj at December 24, 2005 8:49 AM

You do have to seperate the ones who actually believe the rhetoric they're spouting today from the ones who wouldn't at all mind offing a some people in the name of the United States of America, but only if they were the ones who earned the huzzahs -- and the votes -- for keeping the nation safe.

The first group is just clueless and/or reflexively anti-whatever the U.S. does. The second group is actually far more contemptable because they know what's being done is right, but are willing to gamble with the public's safety that that can attack these efforts and regain power before any negative consequences result from their actions.

Posted by: John at December 24, 2005 9:45 AM

A much better story could be written about what Bush's critics could learn from Lincoln's adversaries: his enemies in the South and critics in the North. With what relative (the operative term here) equanimity did they deal with deaths in the hundred of thousands, occupation, and the suspension of habeas corpus. And against that we have Plamegate?

Posted by: MGNC at December 24, 2005 10:26 AM

Of course Bush did come into office with a "generosity of his spirit" towards the other party and what did it get him, a knife in the back. Tho I suppose that's better than a bullet in a theater.

I wonder how much of Bush's problems with leaks from within is a result of his being too conciliatory towards the dems

He seems to have let a lot of the Clinton folks -- Tenet, Clarke come immediately to mind -- hang around for far too long, instead of having security show them the door in Jan 01 the way the Clintons did with all and sundry in Jan 93.

Then in early 04 it seems a lot of these folks started jumping ship to dem presidential campaigns, and low and behold, gotcha stories started showing up in the press.

Bush should've seen the writing on the wall after the way the dems went after him in Dec 00.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at December 24, 2005 10:43 AM

Jim, yours is the argument that goes on in our home all day, every day. I'm grateful that we live a bit away from neighbors because if anyone heard my husband bellowing at the television set and issuing curses and denouncements on all and sundry, no doubt they would send for the white jacketed people to take him away.

I know Bush is right. He's staying the course and notching up win after win while the disloyal opposition is only notching up their level of derangement.

Vengeance is mine, sayeth the Lord, so we'll just have to be satisfied with knowing we're doing all we can to make the world a safe place for the next generation and let God sort out the rest.

Posted by: erp at December 24, 2005 11:53 AM

wow OJ... what a leap in fantasy... Lincoln to Bush! Civil war at home to middle men in a civil war in Iraq. How do you ever make those wild connections, anyway?

Posted by: oldkayaker at December 24, 2005 2:28 PM

The institutional connection between the Copperheads and draft rioters of the Civil War era, and the modern Democrat party should not be underestimated. The same folks, the same game.

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at December 24, 2005 2:59 PM

John, see if you can guess who this was said about:

The cheek of every American must tingle with shame as he reads the silly, flat and dishwatery utterances of the man who has to be pointed out to intelligent foreigners as the President of the United States.

Copperheads just never change.

Posted by: joe shropshire at December 24, 2005 3:01 PM


I'm an American and a Judeo-Christian, my home is the world and the Iraqi struggle for liberty is mine.

Posted by: oj at December 24, 2005 3:12 PM


Admit it. You're one of us.

Posted by: Clement Vallandingham at December 24, 2005 3:29 PM

OJ, great post.

Posted by: RC at December 24, 2005 7:29 PM