Watching the movie Lincoln, I thought there were some similarities between President Abraham Lincoln and President Barack Obama. Both men were popular during their times. During the film, Mary Todd Lincoln pleads with her husband not to squander his popularity with the American people by forcing Congress to pass the 13th amendment ending slavery as the Civil War was already coming to an end.
“No one’s ever been loved so much by the people. Don’t waste that power,” Mary Todd played exceptionally by Sally Fields tells her husband. But Lincoln, portrayed forcefully by Daniel Day Lewis, looked at his wife as if to say “the future of America is more important than my popularity.” In that moment, it was clear to me Obama is no Lincoln nor will he ever be as great a president as Abe because Obama always puts his personal popularity above the good of the country.
Lincoln’s Secretary of State William Seward, tells the president, “It’s either the amendment or this Confederacy peace, you cannot have both.” But Lincoln did have both and risked being disliked as president to ensure not only slaves/blacks gained freedom in the United States Constitution but all men. The president knew the Emancipation Proclamation he declared using his war powers would be null and void when the war ended because freedom for all men wasn’t in the Constitution.
As the Union Army had all but vanquished the Confederacy in 1865, Lincoln ultimately got Congress to pass the 13th amendment by personally lobbying bigoted Democrat Confederates and getting some to vote in favor of ending slavery. Instead of engaging in a war of words, Lincoln personally engaged in the process.
What issue of great importance has Obama sacrificed his personal popularity? The debt ceiling, Obamacare, fiscal cliff, immigration, gun control, Benghazi? From day one of his first term, Obama showed nothing but public contempt for Republicans in every battle and having his way regardless of the impact on the country.
Unlike Lincoln, whom Obama says he admires, Obama hasn’t shown any interest in building relationships with Republicans, which was evidenced early on when no Republicans voted for Obamacare. Nor did any House Republicans vote for Obama’s $800 billion stimulus package. Only three Republican Senators voted for the stimulus.
Throughout his first term, Obama was effective in portraying Republicans as politicians only concerned about the rich. The problem with this strategy is it doesn’t inspire the opposing party to work with you. From the recent fiscal cliff battle to 2011 debt ceiling talks, Obama seems to relish humiliating his opponents for personal approval ratings more than working with them to fix the country’s problems.
One particularly awful moment came April 13, 2011 at George Washington University. Obama invited some of the Republican leadership, including Rep. Paul Ryan, architect of the House budget plan, to his debt reduction speech at the university. Keep in mind bipartisan discussions on dealing with the country’s debt ceiling were occurring at the White House and on Capitol Hill.
Instead of praising Republicans for at least putting forth a plan, Obama excoriated Ryan’s plan as bad for America. Obama said it “ends Medicare as we know it” and that “children with autism or Down syndrome,” along with the poor and grandparents would lose Medicaid coverage, (p.104 The Price of Politics).
I will give President and candidate Obama credit; he does a brilliant job of selling America on the Obama brand: an educated black man, full of personality with a great family. Senator Harry Reid observed in 2007 that Obama could be president because he was “a light-skinned” black with “no Negro dialect,” (p.36 Game Change). Americans and the mainstream media loved Obama to the point they were willing to dismiss his lousy record every time in favor of his uniqueness and charm as the country’s first black president.
During the campaign, he and his Democrat surrogates demonized Republican candidate Mitt Romney, effectively distracting voters from the issues of a bad economy and mounting debt to topics like the war on women, birth control, gay marriage, Romney’s wealth and his taxes. Despite presiding over one of the worst economies since the Great Depression in his first term, where unemployment was stuck mostly above 8%, Obama beat the odds and won re-election. No president except Franklin D. Roosevelt won reelection when unemployment was higher than 7%.
As Obama embarks upon his second term, he seems intent on using the same tactics of demonizing Republicans as he did in his first. In remarks on gun violence January 16, 2012, days before his inauguration, Obama said, “while reducing gun violence is a complicated challenge, protecting our children from harm shouldn’t be a divisive one.” Because Republicans and some Democrats support the 2nd amendment and have different views on gun laws doesn’t mean they are evil.
Obama will place his hand on bibles from both Martin Luther King Jr. and Lincoln for his public swearing in January 21st, which is also the King Holiday. Using these bibles flies in the face of what both men embodied: freedom. Under Obama’s administration Americans have become more dependent upon government, enslaved to it, rather than free from it because of his policies. Nearly 50% of all Americans receive some form of government benefit.
King and Lincoln were killed for bringing freedom and equality to all men. In his 1963 I Have A Dream speech, King referenced Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation yet declared: “But 100 years later, the Negro is not free.” Blacks weren’t free because they were enslaved in an American society of segregation that cut them off from opportunity to access the same rights: education, jobs, housing, etc. as whites.
Despite what some black liberals say, Obama needs to do more than be the first black president to honor King’s legacy. I think King would be appalled by Obama’s economy and how his policies have harmed black Americans with higher than average unemployment at 14%, 25% of blacks living in poverty, and 73% of black babies born out of wedlock. This isn’t the Dream King envisioned.
Obama is no Lincoln or King because he lacks magnanimity. Great men take responsibility for their actions. They don’t blame others for their inability to achieve great things. They just do it.