I Knew Abraham Lincoln, and Mr. Obama–You’re No Abraham Lincoln

The only thing that’s truly “eery” about any coincidental similarities between Obama and Lincoln are that they’re being brought up in serious conversation:

The similarities are eerily similar.

Both Abraham Lincoln and President-elect Barack Obama were not from Illinois but became two of the state’s top politicians.

They were both criticized for being too inexperienced to become president of the United States.

Both were raised by women other than their mothers (Lincoln by his stepmother and Obama by his grandmother) and later visited the women before their respective inaugurations. Both women died before the respective inauguration days.

Lincoln, a Republican, and Obama, a Democrat, will be noted as relatively young presidents: Lincoln was 51 when he took office. Obama will be 47.

The two tall and lanky politicians also wrote best-selling books before becoming president.

Historians and political pundits have pointed out that both Lincoln and Obama share the gift of eloquence, speechwriting and oration.

I mean, please. Comparing Obama and Lincoln is like comparing Bill Clinton with Thomas Jefferson, or George Bush (either of them) with James Madison, or even Dan Quayle with JFK. Or, for that matter, Obama with JFK.

As intellects, there’s simply no comparison. First, I haven’t found his oration skills, even at the height of the campaign, to be terribly great. Too many “um”‘s, too many pregnant pauses, too haughty an attitude–Obama most often sounds like he’s talking from a belief in his profound personal superiority and to an audience of victims. Second, I don’t believe that he’s actually written all that much, and even if he has, I don’t find it particularly profound. Rather, I find it pedantic and pure emotionalism, even bordering on preachy.

As statesmen, that remains to be seen, but all indications are that Obama won’t rise to the challenge. His extemporaneous remarks are not nearly as smooth as his scripted remarks in front of a teleprompter, and his activities as President-Elect, so far, have in my opinion demonstrated him to be in well over his head. In short, he’s so far either stuck his foot in his mouth (evidence, the issue of Poland, Russia, and the missile shield) or, to my mind, simply said all the wrong things. For example, what does it mean, precisely, for the President(-Elect) to say that he’ll do “whatever it takes” to “fix” the economy? That’s dangerous talk, even had he meant it merely to communicate his committment to act.

One can say that both Lincoln and Obama faced challenges leading into their Presidencies, and even there the similarities are a bit shallow. Yes, Obama faces an economic challenge, but it’s nothing like the prospects of war and secession that Lincoln faced. The issue of slavery was pretty heady, as well. And, the best thing Obama could do would be to leave things well enough alone, which of course he won’t do–and which I imagine Lincoln might have.

The reason this comparison is getting so much mileage, however, is that the mainstream media has so much invested–emotionally as well as relative to their own credibility–in Obama’s success. Perhaps they feel like they can pull the wool over everyone’s eyes as they did during the election, by comparing Obama’s environment with the likes of Lincoln and FDR. Perhaps they hope to imply that if he fails, one can’t really blame him, because the challenges he faces are so great. Or, perhaps they believe that if enough people think of Obama in the same breath as Lincoln, or FDR, or JFK, then he’ll inheret some of their alleged magic (even though they’re all actually less-than perfect examples in their own rights).

Or, maybe they just believe in what they’re writing. I’m not sure which is actually worse–or the most disturbing.

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