Politics

Barack Obama’s Selling Point for 2008: He’s Abraham Lincoln II

The silly season has begun in earnest. How do I know? Sen. Barack Obama, who just announced his presidential exploratory committee, is comparing himself to Abraham Lincoln.

Jonathan Alter breathlessly relayed Obama’s strategy to Keith Olberman—who, by the way, thinks he’s Edward R. Murrow—Tuesday night on “Countdown.” Abraham Lincoln, explained Alter, only served one term in Illinois’ State Legislature and so Obama’s mere two years and counting in the U.S. Senate—added to his tenure as an Illinois State Senator—should suffice just fine for his ascendancy to the Presidency, and, to carry the analogy further, his preservation of the Union. For by Obama’s calculation we are mighty divided and he will step into the breach like honest Abe to save the day.

In case voters were not listening last night to Newsweek’s Alter, Obama is all set to reinforce the point by announcing his formal bid for the Presidency in Abraham Lincoln’s hometown of Springfield, Ill., two days before Abraham Lincoln’s birthday—the 198th anniversary. Can’t wait for Obama’s speech on the 200th anniversary of Lincoln’s birthday in 2009…

More seriously, one of the tenets of greatness is, of course, that you let other people compare you to someone great. (Can you imagine Abraham Lincoln comparing himself to George Washington?) If, however, you can’t wait for the greatness comparisons to come pouring in and start the process yourself, the truth is you don’t resemble that great person in the least. For humility is an essential quality of greatness. And, humility is truth. So, let’s apply a little truth.

Let’s see Abraham Lincoln had 100% ratings from Americans for Democratic Action, NARAL Pro-Choice America, the National Organization of Women, the NAACP and the NEA.

Excuse me, no, that would be Barack Obama.

Furthermore, Abraham Lincoln campaigned against traditional marriage.

Nope, wrong again. That’s Obama.

And, Lincoln was the only State Senator to oppose a bill that prohibited early prison release for criminal sexual offenders.

No, no. Not honest Abe, who, at any rate only ascended to the august position of Illinois State Representative before becoming President. That would be Obama who wanted to give sex offenders an early out.

While the silly season provides many opportunities for humor—and based on this early entry, the season won’t disappoint—the truth is our nation does face tremendously difficult challenges. And, God-willing, throughout this winnowing process, we, the people will find a truly humble soul who resembles Abraham Lincoln and who, by definition, lets us figure it out.

But, for those who fear the electorate will be taken in by the media swoon over the presidential “flavor of the month” and that our nation will fail to find another historic leader in 2008, I would offer these famous words uttered by Abraham Lincoln as an encapsulation of wisdom just before boarding the train that took him to Washington, where five grueling years later he was assassinated for his steadfast commitment to the cause of preserving the Union: “This too shall pass.”

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