In heady aftermath of the 2008 election, Barack Obama’s many media admirers loved to paint the newly elected Democrat as the second coming of Abraham Lincoln. A November 2008 Newsweek article titled “Obama’s Lincoln” was only-slightly more nauseating than most, when it proclaimed:
It is the season to compare Barack Obama to Abraham Lincoln. Two thin men from rude beginnings, relatively new to Washington but wise to the world, bring the nation together to face a crisis. Both are superb rhetoricians, both geniuses at stagecraft and timing….
Obama himself cultivated and encouraged such comparisons, launching his presidential campaign from Springfield, Illinois, where he solemnly intoned:
[I]n the shadow of the Old State Capitol, where Lincoln once called on a divided house to stand together…I stand before you today to announce my candidacy for President of the United States.
In fact, the two men could not be more different — in character temperament and governing philosophy. Take, for example, their respective views of America itself. At a 2009 press conference, Obama addressed the idea of American exceptionalism: “I believe in American exceptionalism, just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism.” In other words, not at all.
Compare that with Lincoln’s oft-expressed and deep appreciation for our nation’s unique character and power. In one of his first public addresses in 1838, Lincoln said:
We [Americans] find ourselves in the peaceful possession of the fairest portion of the earth as regards extent of territory, fertility of soil, and salubrity of climate. We find ourselves under the government of a system of political institutions conducing more essentially to the ends of civil and religious liberty than any of which the history of former times tells us….
Years later, as president presiding over a bloody war, Lincoln would call America “the last, best hope of earth” as he implored his fellow citizens to help him save it.
Then there is the issue of character. Lincoln was famously known as “Honest Abe,” a lifelong sobriquet first earned as a young man in New Salem, Illinois, with consistent displays of rigorous integrity and unimpeachable honesty. Later in life, Lincoln would advise prospective attorneys to, “Resolve to be honest at all events; and if, in your own judgment, you cannot be an honest lawyer, resolve to be honest without being a lawyer.”
Obama, meanwhile, has proven he is capable of a truly repulsive mendacity — fabricating tales about his deceased mother to advance his career and policy goals. At a March 2008 event in Pennsylvania, Obama repeated an oft-used theme:
My mother, when she got sick with ovarian cancer, she had just gotten a new job, and the insurance company was saying, ‘Well, maybe this is a pre-existing condition, so maybe we don’t have to pay your medical bills.
So I know what it’s like to see a loved one suffer not just because they’re sick, but because of a broken health care system. This is personal for me.
But according to a new biography of Ann Dunham titled A Singular Woman: The Untold Story of Barack Obama’s Mother by former New York Times reporter Janny Scott, Dunham had employer-provided health insurance that paid most of her medical expenses directly and without contest. Obama claimed otherwise, however, because it helped make the case for both his presidency and his health-care plan.
In fact, the only thing Obama and Lincoln have in common is that they both fundamentally transformed the United States: Under Lincoln, individual liberty expanded, while under Obama liberty withers and government gathers more and more power to itself. The United States emerged from the Lincoln presidency on the way to becoming an economic and military powerhouse while under Obama unemployment, debt, and deficits skyrocket and our once-mighty economy is in freefall.
The journalists and sycophants who saw the greatness of Lincoln in Barack Obama now look incredibly foolish, and the irony is that they did Obama no favors by piling such monumental expectations on his rail-thin shoulders.