The Spectacle Blog

A New Birth of Pomposity

By on 1.17.09 | 3:50PM

The ghost of Abraham Lincoln looms large over the coming inauguration of Barack Obama...or so they keep telling us. This piece from Bloomberg is an interesting compendium of the supposed symmetry between the 16th and 44th presidents.

 "Both of them were born to modest circumstances," says former Democratic New York Governor Mario Cuomo, an amateur Lincoln historian.

Obama's childhood, as the son of a single mother who sometimes relied on food stamps, is a modern analogue of Lincoln's log-cabin upbringing.

It's interesting to know that being the son of a single mother who sometimes relied on food stamps is now analogous to being reared in log cabins in the wilds of Kentucky and Indiana by an uneducated farmer.

Spectator readers will probably also get a kick out of the last paragraph:

"To the extent that he's emulating any president, Lincoln is about as good as it's going to get," Wilentz says. "If he was trying to emulate Calvin Coolidge, that would be a problem." 

Anyone uncomfortable with a trillion dollar "stimulus" might be tempted to disagree.

In any case, it is worth pointing out that the portion of Lincoln's inaugural trail Obama is copying was actually altered at Allen Pinkerton's urging after rumors of plots to kill to soon to be president sprouted. In the end, Lincoln, in his own words, snuck into Washington"like a thief in the night." Hardly the arrival Obama would want to emulate. Still, it is no surprise if the president elect's advance team are unaware of this: Obama and his presidential choreographers seem to struggle with the little details of the glorious parts of U.S. history they so freely appropriate.

Send to Kindle

Like this Article

Print this Article

Print Article

More Articles From Ryan L. Cole