Why George W. Bush Reminds Me of Abraham Lincoln
From that point onward, the anti-war, anti-Bush zealots in America began to resemble Lincoln's own wartime nemeses, the Copperhead Democrats. From Lincoln's first declaration that he intended to save the Union from dissolution, angry factions within the pro-slavery opposing party denounced him vociferously in the press. A number of northern newspapers, controlled by the Copperheads, incited draft riots in major cities, while claiming Lincoln's murderous intentions toward the Constitution. Lincoln's wartime suspension of habeas corpus and his locking up suspected rebel leaders in the border states without trial, caused his lynching in effigy in many a northern township.
Just as Lincoln saw his generals mess up and his troops mired in defeat again and again, before finding his Grant and turning loose his Sherman, George W. Bush endured the seemingly never-ending bog of Iraq until he found his Petraeus. As the Iraq war magnetized the struggle with Islamic terrorist groups worldwide, and they came to take their stand in "Bush's war," victory seemed as distant and as completely unpredictable as did Lincoln's own in the middle years.
From very early in the Iraq war, when it became obvious that the mission was not going to be accomplished without supreme determination and conviction, the press turned against the president. His every move -- wiretapping terrorist suspects, sending prisoners to Guantanamo, the practice of rendition, the Patriot Act -- everything the man did became a cause celebrated by his political enemies. Even though President Bush has survived to the end of his second term alive, and not assassinated (movies don't count) as was Lincoln, he is leaving the Oval Office every bit as much maligned as was his fateful predecessor, Abraham Lincoln.
Just as Lincoln persevered very much alone throughout most of the Civil War, so has George W. Bush in his time of war. Fighting foes from not only without, but also within, plagued both men. It was Lincoln who wrote in his time of war, "I think the Constitution invests its Commander-in-Chief with the law of war in time of war." G. W. Bush had to have taken some solace in these words while he fought his own battles for necessary wiretaps and military tribunals, even as the ACLU and the New York Times openly accused him of trampling the Constitution.
The writing of history is every bit as quirky as individual human perspective. George W. Bush may very well acquire the near-saintly remembrances inspired by Lincoln at some future date.
I doubt sincerely that I'll be alive to see that, if it should happen, but I do know that as I watch Barack Obama's swearing in, I'll be reminded that it takes a lot more courage, conviction, and character to actually earn one's likening to a former great president. It takes far more than hailing coincidentally from the same state or using the same Bible for the oath. And for ill or good, George W. Bush has earned his comparison to Lincoln in his darkest days of solitude in the same Oval Office.
I shall miss the man -- G.W. -- and his stalwart character, even if I stand entirely alone in it.