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Monday, January 21, 2013

Obama's legacy

Have you noticed that Obama loves to channel Abraham Lincoln? I think it's preposterous to use the two analogously, but Obama didn't ask me. He doesn't ask anyone.

A UK paper has an interesting op-ed describing what made Lincoln great and what Obama would need to embrace to follow suit:
Firstly, Mr Obama must avoid the pitfalls of almost all second inaugurals by not making it longer than his first. “Lincoln learned that lesson,” said Dr White, “The Gettysburg Address was 272 words. The second inaugural was 701 words. Lincoln delivered it in just six or seven minutes and people were still arriving when he was finishing.”
Secondly, Lincoln dared to be honest. He confronted the American people frankly about the issue of slavery, an institution that cost the nation four devastating years of civil war.  
“People expected Lincoln to talk about the Confederacy - the guilty and innocent - but he understood this was the moment to give something short, inspirational and from the heart,” said Dr White, “He confronted the evils of slavery and avoided the usual exercise in self-congratulation, and talk about ‘this great nation of America’. It was a great risk, but Lincoln took it.”

And lastly, Lincoln succeeded because, unlike many a re-elected president, he didn’t fall for his own publicity. “In the Gettysburg address, there is not one personal pronoun and in the second inaugural, only two,” Dr White concludes, “Lincoln didn’t talk about his ‘mandate’ – a phrase you hear now from Mr Obama – but directed all the attention away from himself to the values of the great democratic experiment. He understood that he was a spokesperson for something larger than himself.”

Brevity. Honesty. Humility. If Mr Obama dares to dream of even coming close to matching his hero, these must be his watchwords.
I don't know that Lincoln is Obama's real hero - but he knows it would endear him to the American people if he were. Lincoln stood firm in the face of opposition. He knew it was part of life. Obama seems to be in denial that he should have any opposition, blaming the Tea Party and Republicans for all the nations' problems. He will crush them if he can. Not like Lincoln, who readily pardoned Civil War Confederate veterans and worked to rebuild a war-torn nation. He tried to heal the rift, with his generals setting the example. Americans were brothers again. Obama is trying to tear the nation in half and throw away the half he doesn't like.

As for the brevity, honesty, and humility? From what we've seen in the past four years, he has no history of any of the three. He gabs about himself all the time. He uses "I" and other personal pronouns more than any past president, if I remember a study correctly. Humility is the opposite of this narcissist we call President. He's lied about everything from Solyndra to the auto bailouts to the federal deficit and budget to the "success" of green energy to the media-passed-over-debacle in Libya to the what-should-be-a-media-driven-scandal-if-he-were-Republican-like-Abe-Lincoln Fast and Furious.

Obama loves to re-write history in how he tells it (to glorify himself and his idealogy), but there is no hope of him leaving a legacy like Lincoln. That much is certain. Obama, the great divider, will never be credited with uniting the nation - though if he's really lucky (or successful, depending on how you look at it) he may be credited with the demise of the GOP as we know it.

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