Monday, January 19, 2009

Lincoln on Obama

I've done enough reading about Abraham Lincoln to think Louis Gates and John Stauffer have it right in their op-ed piece in today's NY Times. Snippets:

It is difficult to say for sure, of course, but one thing we can be fairly certain about is that Lincoln would have been, um, surprised [by Obama's election]. Lincoln was thoroughly a man of his times, and while he staunchly opposed slavery — on moral grounds and because it made competition in the marketplace unfair for poor white men — for most of his life he harbored fixed and unfortunate ideas about race.

And they conclude:

Once Lincoln had recovered from his shock that a descendant of “amalgamation” (about which he once expressed reservations) had ascended to the presidency, one suspects their mutual embrace of economic independence and natural rights, their love and mastery of the English language, their shared desire to leave their mark on history, and their astonishing gift for pragmatic improvisation, would have drawn him to a man so fundamentally similar to himself.

And they both understood that the perfect is an enemy of the good. Read the whole thing.

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