Thursday, July 20, 2006

WWAD (What Would Abe Do)

President Bush, today in front of the NAACP, says:
I consider it a tragedy that the party of Abraham Lincoln let go of its historic ties to the African American community," Bush said. "For too long my party wrote off the African American vote and many African Americans wrote off the Republican Party.
To which Kos responds:
Republicans didn't "write off" blacks, they used them as a demonizable prop to bring in the Dixiecrat vote into their fold.

And who is Bush to talk, given the disaster he ignored in New Orleans? He could rush to DC on a midnight flight to sign the "let's meddle in the Schiavo family's affairs" bill, but couldn't be bothered to cut his six-week vacation short when Katrina hit.

Abraham Lincoln would be no more a modern-day Republican than Strom Thurmond or Jesse Helms would be modern-day Democrats.
Hmmm…I agree with Kos to a point. In many ways, on many issues the major parties in this country have switched positions. But neither has done so completely, so neither is still in its "pure form" from some other era.

And remember, it was Representative Abraham Lincoln of Springfield who waged a lonely fight in Congress against what he saw as an unjust war against Mexico in the late 1840s. A real anti-war radical. Many modern Republicans would have called him a traitor if they had been around back then.

That said, I think its always dangerous to claim icons as ones own. Jesus, Jefferson, Abe – everyone wants to assume they would be on their team. My guess is that someone like Lincoln would not be elected to anything in this day and age. Goodness, his TV image would be terrible. So, while Kos’ larger point I think is accurate, I’ll stay away from speaking for the dead.

1 comment:

John said...

Dave, I couldn't agree more. Placing your historical idols into modern contexts is always a useless game. And a weak, pointless argument. It really minimizes their character, painting them simply as 1-dimensional idealists in the process. Abraham Lincoln was not merely a set of ideals. He was a thinking, reasoning man, who dealt with issues as they arose. To simply plug him into a modern-day situation and assume he would go a certain way is borderline disrespectful and a waste of time.