Easy. Just slag Lincoln. I remember some comment threads that looked like USENET flame wars after some guy slagged Lincoln on EjectEjectEject back in the day.
Wonder what Whittle would make of this.
So anyway. This guy Kuttner wrote a nice Christmas present to the current president. By “nice” I mean not at all nice. My take on it is that Kuttner’s impression of the current president does not match what I see, and in any case sure is angry.
Lincoln gained incomparably in wisdom over four years. Does anyone think George W. Bush is wiser now than in 2001?
Despite civil insurrection, Lincoln resisted broad intrusions on democratic rights. Bush runs roughshod over liberties.
Bush’s visits to Iraq are choreographed media events. Lincoln often went to the front on horseback or by ship, almost alone, shunning news coverage, to confer at length with his generals, thank the troops, and educate himself.
Bush relies on secondhand inspirations of a speechwriting staff. He blathers when he wanders off script. Lincoln wrote his own words, including the timeless eloquence of the Second Inaugural or the Gettysburg Address. More often, his eloquence was extemporaneous.
As you can see, Kuttner describes someone who wouldn’t exactly have been reelected, or be held in any regard by the folks in DoD. It doesn’t match my read of the man, politics or no.
Some of the responses in the blogosphere have been rather forceful in their dissent from Kuttner.
Power Line points out that Lincoln would have acted differently than Kuttner posits, using such unfair methods as Lincoln’s own words.
I would enjoy reading Kuttner on Lincoln’s defiance of Chief Justice Taney’s order to free John Merryman on the ground that Lincoln’s suspension of habeas corpus was unconstitutional. Lincoln respectfully disagreed and ignored Taney’s order. I hope Kuttner will get around to writing such a column someday; he might learn something if he studies up enough to write it.
Lincoln enunciated his understanding of public necessity enhancing the constitutional powers of the president during wartime on many occasions, perhaps on no occasion more memorably than in his 1864 letter to Albert Hodges on the Emancipation Proclamation. Read and learn from America’s greatest, most influential interpreter of the Constitution:
Click over to read the excerpt from a famous letter of Lincoln’s.
Instapundit points to Prof. Kenneth Anderson’s passionate dismissal of Kuttner’ s invocation of Lincoln, unhappy that Lincoln is even being brought up in this manner:
Lincoln cannot, should not, be invoked ever in a partisan way in the moral discourse of the United States, because the whole point is that he belongs to all of us. And in an explicitly religious, redemptive way. That is to say, of course any American and American leader should consider carefully and meditatively and historically what he or she thinks Lincoln would have done, how close to the example of Lincoln he or she hews. It is, in this intensely partisan age, a necessary meditation but necessarily and best a private one. And it is never, in the moral discourse of this country, fit grist for the partisan mill. Lincoln is never an opportunity for saying, as Kuttner does in an ugly little parody of the Second Inaugural, that “our nation, in a new birth of freedom, will survive even George W. Bush.”
I wonder if any of this critique even would get back to Kuttner…