Tag: Abraham Lincoln

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@Jasonrudert posits in @ctlaw’s post that what we’ll really find in the Kennedy Assassination files is the secret to why Lincoln was shot: Lincoln’s mythical and famous 200 mpg carburetor, something GM, Ford, and Chrysler have been rumored to have buried decades before.  Look, I unearthed those plans years ago (they were buried under a […]

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Bring Back the Cherry Tree

 

Today is President’s Day. In the wake of November’s election, the nation’s capital is busting apart at the seams as both parties strive for dominance and relevance. Each party wants to show that it has heard the will of the people.

If Congress wants to do something really important, it could do worse than bring back Washington’s and Lincoln’s Birthdays as national holidays.

I feel so sad for today’s kids. Nowadays, The 12th and 22nd of February are just two more days in a quirky month known mostly for Valentine’s and Leap Year.

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I have been thinking on political violence today; this is the 155th anniversary of the Inaugural Address by which Lincoln tried to prevent the worst kind of political violence, civil war. I will say a few words on prudence in politics as I believe it needs to be learned again, as a concerned foreigner & […]

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Never Trump

 

lincoln-reagan-trumpOn the eve of Super Tuesday, Republicans face a grave decision: Are we the party of Lincoln and of Reagan, or are we the Party of Donald Trump?

I came of age during the Reagan Revolution. One of my earliest political memories was watching his speech at the 1976 Republican National Convention — one of millions of little kids hungry for optimism and a winsome smile in that unrelentingly bleak era. I didn’t reach voting age until after his re-election, but in high school, Reagan’s ideas inspired me to start reading National Review, argue individual freedom with my liberal civics teacher, and even join the US Navy.

The Republican Party was the home of bold, new ideas rooted in a love for our ancient founding documents. We viewed our nation as a shining city on a hill and invited all our fellow citizens to join us in perfecting this great American experiment.

Abe Lincoln 2016

 

Screen Shot 2015-08-31 at 08.57.00May I recommend two books? Harold Holzer’s Lincoln at Cooper Union and Lewis E. Lehrman’s Lincoln at Peoria are wonderful treatments of wonderful speeches. The authors present Lincoln’s moral genius and rhetorical power in the context of the critical issue — the extension of slavery —  and the era’s state and national party politics.

Of the two eponymous speeches, I especially like Peoria. Lincoln gave this speech as he shadowed Stephen Douglas on the hustings in Illinois. Douglas was addressing voters in support of the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which opened the west for the extension of slavery.

Here’s why I like Lincoln’s Peoria speech: the audience.

Better Living Through Coercion

 

389px-Abraham_Lincoln_November_1863Prior to the Civil War, apologists for the South’s “peculiar institution” concocted “positive good” rationales that claimed slavery was beneficial. Though the arguments varied, they were broadly based on assumptions of white superiority: intellectual, spiritual, and civilizational. The “superior” white man had the right to live off the labors of the “backward” African because doing so freed him to engage in the higher pursuits afforded by his loftier intellect, morality, and civilization.

Abraham Lincoln’s rejoinder — made during his debates with Stephen Douglas — was that the Southerners’ arguments could equally justify their own slavery by their supposed betters. Islamists, for example, believe their religion, morals, and culture are infinitely better than ours and so it is their religious duty to conquer the West and bring it under Sharia Law. Those refusing to convert to Islam are to be subjected to death, slavery or — at best — to the partial slavery of dhimmitude, which entails limited rights, obligatory humiliation, and special taxes to help enhance the lifestyles of the faithful.

In early America, people voluntarily supported the weak and infirm, but such practical compassion is not compatible with the enlightened and progressive times in which we live. Instead, the left of today imposes its own form of better living through coercion, based – not on assumptions of superiority – but on assumptions of inferiority. In the left’s utopia, productive individuals are forced to support those unable or unwilling to work; the recipients’ poverty, ignorance, infirmity, or victimhood entitling them to the fruits of others’ labor. The successful must be subjected to special taxes and to humiliation (“greedy,” “uncaring,” “elitist”) to justify the confiscation of their property and to soothe the beneficiaries’ feelings.

The Greatest Presidential Speech Ever Delivered

 

abraham-lincoln-secondinauguration3Presidential speechwriters are a competitive bunch. I don’t know how many of us there have been since Warring Harding hired Judson Welliver as a “literary clerk” in the early ’20s, but I do know that the majority of those who’ve labored over a draft in the EEOB — or, if they were truly lucky, the West Wing — have a little bit of an inferiority complex.

Why? Because the first question you get when your vocation is mentioned to a stranger is “Did you write anything I know?” Put aside the banality of the question for a minute — how the hell am I supposed to have a vise-like grip on what you know? — and think about how this actually plays out. For the vast majority of us, the answer is ‘no.’ Most presidential speeches — especially in an age when they’ve become ubiquitous — are unremarkable affairs. No one reads your Rose Garden remarks congratulating science fair winners from around the country (yes, I actually got that assignment once. John Negroponte said he loved the speech. I’m still convinced he was mocking me). As a result, your average White House scribe lives in perpetual envy of Raymond Moley, who penned the 1933 FDR inaugural address that included “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself” (though Moley doesn’t seem to have been responsible for that line); of Ted Sorensen for working on JFK’s 1961 inaugural; and, yes, of Peter Robinson for writing Ronald Reagan’s Brandenburg Gate speech and etching the phrase “tear down this wall” into history. Only the lucky few get a signature song.

What’s sort of remarkable — beautiful, in a way — is that none of the members of this small fraternity, no matter how great their achievements, will ever plausibly be able to claim pride of place…because the greatest presidential speech ever delivered was written by the chief executive himself. And it was delivered 150 years ago today.

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President Obama, boasting that he would flout the Constitution by circumventing the will of Congress, once boasted that he had “a pen and a phone.” I just watched a very interesting movie, “Saving Lincoln,” which I received aa year ago after giving the film makers $25 on kickstarter.com. What can I say, I am sucker […]

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These are strange times, for sure, and it’s hard to define them in words with any degree of precision. When someone else does, it stands out to me.  I’ve just read the following from Peggy Noonan in the WSJ this morning regarding the curious disconnect between reality and our current executive.  I wonder how deeply […]

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Not a Good Week for Hillary Clinton

 

HillFirst, there was this. Then, there was the fact that Diane Sawyer of all people laid into Clinton over Benghazi (which, lest you forget, is not a scandal, so don’t worry your pretty little heads about it, darlings). And then, there is the fact that her book . . . well . . . isn’t so good:

Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton’s new memoir “Hard Choices” officially launches Tuesday morning, but it’s already being savaged by critics for being overly cautious and, as a result, uninteresting.

“TRUTH BOMB 1: ‘Hard Choices’ is a newsless snore,” Politico’s Mike Allen wrote in his Monday-morning newsletter. He went on to describe the book “written so carefully not to offend that it will fuel the notion that politics infuses every part of her life.”