You won’t want to miss his press conference.
This past Saturday I donned a top hat to play Abraham Lincoln in Hollywood, Florida, in a special Sabbath program which was the brainchild of Rabbi Edward Davis. He is a history buff who augments his pastoral duties with little spontaneous forays into thespian staging of our past. No audition for the part of Honest Abe was required. As a six-foot-two conservative commentator with a small writer’s beard, I was elected.
>The weekend featured two public events. On Friday night there was a communal meal (215 people at a subsidized $20 a plate) featuring Civil War Era dishes, including a meat loaf seasoned with some heavenly combination of spices unlike anything common in today’s fare. After the entrée, there was a debate where Rabbi Davis spoke first, reciting a sermon delivered by a Rabbi Raphall of New York in 1861, arguing that slavery could not be deemed a sin according to the Bible.
Then it was my job, in character as Lincoln, to make the case against slavery. I began with some amusing self-introduction, which quickly won the crowd into my corner.
Coming back from the dead for this weekend is a real treat. Amazingly, I have been gone more than seven times twenty years, but who is keeping scores?
The Pony Express has been replaced by motor vehicles and yet the mail has not improved much. In fact, I am still getting letters delivered to my Gettysburg Address.
The man who fired the first shot for the North in the Civil War was Colonel Abner Doubleday, who also invented the game of baseball. What do the Civil War and baseball have in common? They are both dominated by those damn Yankees!
Then I shifted into the substantive portion of my presentation. Yes, it was true the Bible had made provision for slavery. Indeed this afforded a protection for the human being against the possibility of utter starvation for self and family. If a person found himself bereft of marketable skills and merchandise, beyond the reach of governmental, institutional and private charity, his ultimate resource was to offer his freedom for sale.
Yet in latter times that vehicle was proving too unwieldy. It was daunting to police such a system against abuse. I went into some length describing the difficulties Jews had encountered in India, trying to own slaves on the Biblical system. We find rabbinical letters, as early as the 16th century and as late as the 19th — criticizing their behavior towards the slaves and even towards freedmen who were being kept at arm’s length from society.
I noted that a “recent” book, Das Kapital by Karl Marx, while flawed in its prescriptions, offers an insightful theory to the effect that industrialization eliminates the need for slavery in world economies. Machinery will replace that layer of the least valuable brute labor. In a time of developing technology coupled with inadequate systems for protecting the slave from abuse, it is fair to denote slavery as a de facto sin.
THE SECOND PUBLIC EVENT took place on Saturday afternoon and involved a formidable challenge. I had to hold a 60-minute press conference in the persona of Abe Lincoln, fielding all and sundry questions for a crowd of about a hundred very knowledgeable people.
Some of the questions had been solicited in advance via e-mail, so I was able to prepare a bit, but most of it was done on the fly. Here are a few choice excerpts to the best of my recollection (no recording done on the Jewish Sabbath):
Q: Mister President, I heard that you once climbed out of the window in the Illinois Legislature to break quorum, but you later said you regretted it. What do you think of modern attempts to break quorum?
A: Let me address that globally, without reference to particular parties or issues. I think the idea of quorum is to protect members against having their voices silenced by their inability to be present. The moment a legislator is informed of the session and he refuses to attend, he should be deemed as exercising his democratic vote by abstaining. He should be considered present and he may be counted towards the quorum.
Q: Mister President, when Stephen Douglas said that slavery should be a personal choice you mocked the argument, and it was considered illegitimate in American political debate for many decades. Now this argument has been resurrected in favor of a woman’s right to abortion. Do you still dispute it in this new context?
A: There are two responses to this. One is technical and legalistic. The other is ethical and moralistic.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?
H/T to National Review Online