Political Hay

Steroids, Stimulus, and Lincoln

Why would a dishonest age honor him?

By 2.13.09

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The establishment's admiration for Honest Abe appears to grow in proportion to its dishonesty. A week of low national deceptions culminated in celebrations of Lincoln's 200th birthday. Out came historians known for plagiarizing to deliver pious speeches before politicians who lie.

It is like an endless Charlie Rose panel, with the usual strained and pretentious throat-clearing. "Somehow Lincoln has worked himself into Obama's heart and mind, and it's a good thing to have Lincoln as your mentor," Doris Kearns Goodwin, the Pulitzer Prize-winning plagiarist, said to the press.

This revival of Lincoln nostalgia has to be a form of delusional self-aggrandizement. Obama seems to be encouraging this renewed cult of Lincoln in egotistical anticipation of his own. Lincoln made "my story possible," he said. CNN teed up its coverage with the modest title, "From Lincoln to Obama."

A nodding liberal elite trots out Goodwin to extol Lincoln's virtues of probity while presiding over an age of non-stop fraud -- an age that solves recession by printing money, solves crime by repealing laws, solves illiteracy by eliminating tests, and solves homelessness by mandating bad loans.

And they are shocked at Alex Rodriguez? Why? Haven't they noticed that lying has become the national pastime? He cheated on the field; they cheat in Congressional offices, board rooms, and bureaucracies. He took steroids; they take special-interests stimulus.

Nothing is what it appears, not even the inevitable confessions which are as carefully contrived as the crimes. A daily, indistinct mass of dishonesty washes over the public in a boring cycle of indifferent sin and contrition. Every crime, no matter how high or low, is merely a "mistake," something on the order of lost car keys.

Would Abraham Lincoln have voted for Barack Obama or any of the Dems honoring him on Thursday at the Capitol? It is highly unlikely. He would have found their politics unfathomable, not just for its crassness and feeble corner-cutting but for its aphilosophical stupidity.

A president who says, as Obama did in his inaugural address, that the central question for the federal government is not whether it is "too big" but whether "it works" has snapped the mystic cords of memory stretching back to the founders. For them, the proper size of the federal government was the most fundamental question, and they feared that without a sound answer to it tyranny would follow.

And it has. Obama is practicing the soft tyranny of low expectations and high government spending. That supposedly heart-warming spectacle in Florida this week was ludicrous, a scene worthy of a Mel Brooks movie. The Brave New World doesn't look like it is progressing but regressing; the world is back to piracy in the Gulf of Eden and quasi-kings holding court as the lucky few get to pitch their pleas.

Statesmen now take down the cell numbers of the homeless, provided that the petitioner is good for ratings. Obama casts his cheap, showboating pragmatism as Lincolnian -- as if fighting for pork is akin to holding the union together. This is all about as soulfully Lincolnian as his calculated "I screwed up" apologies last week.

Where Lincoln was serious, Obama is glib, framing debates dishonestly so that his run-of-the-mill liberalism goes unchallenged. Where Lincoln measured progress by the perfection of the Declaration of Independence, Obama identifies it in the creation of a new one (as he said in Philadelphia shortly before his inauguration).

The Democrats shouldn't be honoring Lincoln but Darwin, whose 200th anniversary is also this year. Surely Darwin, given enough time, would have come up with some sort of flattering evolutionary explanation for the habitual lying and self-delusion on display in D.C., a theory with which the Democrats could congratulate themselves while leaving Lincoln's legacy of quaint honesty in tatters. 

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About the Author
George Neumayr, a contributing editor to The American Spectator, is co-author, with Phyllis Schlafly, of the new book, No Higher Power: Obama's War on Religious Freedom.