Thanks for the comments from others who have pointed out that I didn't write a piece comparing Obama to Lincoln. I still find anonymous' comment way off target and bearing no logical relationship to my actual post.
My focus was on the mythologizing that time tends to bring to our remembrances of the past. The Obama and Lincoln comparison, as well as the FDR and Obama comparisons have been unfavorably made for some time. Primarily the comparisons are used to depict Obama as weak and ineffective when compared to Lincoln and FDR. My analysis of Lincoln was to contrast the factual reality with the mythology that we've built around Lincoln. The abolitionists criticized Lincoln as weak and ineffective. They questioned his commitment to ending slavery. Lincoln's primary goal was not to end slavery it was to do whatever was necessary to preserve the Union. He compromised a great deal as did Roosevelt. I'll save that stroll down history lane another day. Interestingly, the group sold out the most significantly by FDR was African-Americans. (African-Americans and the New Deal)
Compromise is the cornerstone of legislation. No one ever gets all that he or she wants in a bill. Republican and Democrat doesn't really mean a great deal behind closed doors when bills are in their infancy; everyone compromises to give birth to a bill and curries favor so that when their side is presenting a bill they can call in those favors. The horror of this new crowd of inexperienced legislators is that they don't understand how the system works and they draw lines in the sand. All that they create are impasses.
Obama's efforts at transparency have resulted in more public disclosure of the process and everyone believes that this is a significant change when this game is as old as politics themselves. Those same politicians in Congress who make great speeches condemning the opposition's position on an issue, go out afterwards and share a bottle of scotch. A great many politicians are lawyers. One of the first things that you learn as a litigator is that nothing in the courtroom is personal. To zealously represent your client, you're perfectly willing to suggest that opposing counsel is hiding some dirty secret, dishonest, and robs babies and the elderly for sport. During recess, it's possible that you will have lunch with the opposing counsel. Ex parte communications apply to lawyer/judge exchanges outside the presence of the other counsel but there are no rules that prohibit opposing counsel from sharing a drink or a meal. My point is that the moment the adversarial stuff is over, most everyone reverts to being just folks. Democrats and Republicans for the most part keep government functioning through the art of compromise.
The Tea Party Republicans elected in 2010 are for the most part a very inexperienced lot. Some of them have never held any public office until they landed in the U.S. Congress. They are a different breed as demonstrated in the recent debt ceiling crisis. From 1981 to 2010, presidents from Reagan to Obama had no difficulties getting Congress to pass legislation increasing the debt ceiling regardless of the party in power in Congress. It was rational and logical that the President, nor most of Congress would anticipate the ridiculous holding hostage of the debt ceiling that took place in 2011.
|The graph indicates which president and which political party controlled Congress each year.|
It makes a lot of difference. If you state that the President should have held out for a public option in the health care bill, that's criticism. If you assert that the reason that he didn't push for a public option was because he was in cahoots with big pharma and offer as evidence of the conspiracy that there were meetings at the White House with big pharma, that provides fodder for those who are desperately looking for grounds to impeach the president. It's also naive. Of course pharmaceutical companies and hospitals and physician's groups were interested in exactly what affordable health care would mean to their business interests. They were provided opportunities for input. This is not a new thing.
The critique of the President's actions is legitimate criticism. I don't support that point of view but it's certainly anyone's right to object to the actions of any elected official. However, the attribution of motives to the President involving a conspiracy with big pharma is character assassination. You can't then turn around as election day approaches and state with any credibility that you were just holding the president accountable but now plan to campaign to encourage people to vote to re-elect him. What kind of fool would vote for a dishonest scalawag who has betrayed the public intentionally?
All of these dramatic positions attacking the President's character from some progressives will affect his ability to run a successful re-election campaign. Protestations that Obama is a good guy and I'm just critiquing his flaws is bull. Recovering from criticism is a standard part of being a public official; recovering from character assassination seldom happens. Remember John Kerry?