Does it make sense to compare Barack Obama to Abraham Lincoln?
In order to answer widespread objections to the Democratic nominee’s lack of leadership experience, his supporters have developed the annoying habit of citing the sainted sixteenth president as another titanic, world-shaking and divinely anointed figure who ascended to the presidency after few prior accomplishments in politics. According to this misleading analogy, Lincoln lacked an appropriately presidential resume, just as Obama does, and shocked the political establishment of his time in much the same way that today’s Democratic candidate threatens business-as-usual in Washington. True believers feel confident that the absence of qualifications for Barack will block his path to glory and greatness no more than Honest Abe’s shortage of pre-Presidential accomplishment kept him off Rushmore.
This argument relies on a few purportedly “haunting” resemblances between The One and the Rail Splitter --
· Both men came to Washington to represent the state of Illinois, though both were born and raised elsewhere (Lincoln in Kentucky and Indiana, Obama in Hawaii and Indonesia)
· As boys, the two future candidates yearned for absent parents—Lincoln for the kindly, illiterate mother who died when he was nine, and Obama for the self-destructive father who abandoned him when he was two
· They each worked as lawyers, and each served 8 years in the state legislature in Springfield
· They each expressed impassioned opposition to controversial wars (the Mexican War in Lincoln’s case, the Iraq War for Obama) at a time when most of their fellow citizens supported those conflicts
· They each lost races for the House of Representatives early in their careers (Lincoln in 1843, Obama in 2000)
· Both men became nationally famous on the strength of one eloquent and celebrated speech --- Lincoln’s “House Divided” speech of January, 1858, and Obama’s Keynote Address at the Democratic Convention of 2004.
· They both ran for President with a bare minimum of Washington experience (Lincoln had served only two years in the House and Obama announced his candidacy after serving only two years in the Senate).