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Obama Throws Stovepipe Hat Into Ring

From a girlishly giddy Associated Press:

Barack Obama (L), Abraham Lincoln (R)

Sen. Obama Launches White House Run

By NEDRA PICKLER

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Democrat Barack Obama declared himself a candidate Saturday for the White House in 2008, evoking Abraham Lincoln’s ability to unite a nation and promising to lead a new generation as the country’s first black president.

The first-term senator announced his candidacy from the state capital where he began his elective career just 10 years ago, and in front of the building where in another century, Lincoln served eight years in the Illinois Legislature.

"We can build a more hopeful America," Obama said in remarks prepared for delivery. "And that is why, in the shadow of the Old State Capitol, where Lincoln once called on a divided house to stand together, where common hopes and common dreams still live, I stand before you today to announce my candidacy for president of the United States."

Obama did not mention his family background, his childhood in Hawaii and Indonesia or that he would make history if elected president.

Instead, he focused on his life in Illinois over the past two decades, beginning with a job as a community organizer with a $13,000-a-year salary that strengthened his Christian faith.

He said the struggles he saw people face inspired him to get a law degree and run for the Legislature, where he served eight years before becoming a U.S. senator just two years ago.

"I recognize there is a certain presumptuousness, a certain audacity, to this announcement," Obama said. "I know I haven’t spent a lot of time learning the ways of Washington. But I’ve been there long enough to know that the ways of Washington must change.

"Each and every time, a new generation has risen up and done what’s needed to be done," he said. "Today we are called once more —  and it is time for our generation to answer that call."

Obama, 45, gained national recognition with the publication of two best-selling books, "Dreams From My Father" and "The Audacity of Hope," and by delivering the keynote address at the 2004 Democratic National Convention. His optimistic message and his compelling biography immediately sparked talk of his White House potential.

Initially he said he would not run for president. But he said last fall that he was considering it after receiving so much encouragement. He formed a presidential exploratory committee last month…

He spoke of reshaping the economy for the digital age, investing in education, protecting employee benefits, insuring those who do not have health care, ending poverty, weaning America from foreign oil, fighting terrorism while rebuilding global alliances.

"But all of this cannot come to pass until we bring an end to this war in Iraq," Obama said. "America, it’s time to start bringing our troops home. It’s time to admit that no amount of American lives can resolve the political disagreement that lies at the heart of someone else’s civil war." …

Obama has introduced a bill to prevent President Bush from increasing troop levels in Iraq and to remove U.S. combat forces from the country by March 31, 2008 – legislation that has virtually no chance of becoming law while Bush is president.

Obama’s address was steeped in American history.

He talked how previous generations have brought change — fighting off colonizers, slavery and the Great Depression, welcoming immigrants, building railroads and landing a man on the moon.

He repeatedly referred to Lincoln and his success in moving a nation. He said it is because of Lincoln that Americans of every race face the challenges of the 21st century together.

"The life of a tall, gangly, self-made Springfield lawyer tells us that a different future is possible," Obama said. "He tells us that there is power in words. He tells us that there is power in conviction. That beneath all the differences of race and region, faith and station, we are one people. He tells us that there is power in hope."

Of course Mr. Obama’s major was "international relations," not history. But still:

Democrat Barack Obama declared himself a candidate Saturday for the White House in 2008, evoking Abraham Lincoln’s ability to unite a nation and promising to lead a new generation as the country’s first black president.

Lincoln is rather well known for having divided a nation. Even so, Mr. Obama is no Lincoln.

He’s not even a Ford.

It’s time to admit that no amount of American lives can resolve the political disagreement that lies at the heart of someone else’s civil war.

He certainly doesn’t sound much like Lincoln. As I recall, Lincoln believed freedom was worth dying for.

Though here I apparently part company with the Lincoln scholar Obama.

From Mr. Obama’s article in the Jun. 26, 2005 issue of Time Magazine, What I See in Lincoln’s Eyes:

I cannot swallow whole the view of Lincoln as the Great Emancipator. As a law professor and civil rights lawyer and as an African American, I am fully aware of his limited views on race. Anyone who actually reads the Emancipation Proclamation knows it was more a military document than a clarion call for justice

Perhaps that is because Mr. Lincoln was acting as Commander-in-Chief, having no Constitutional powers to free any slaves as a peacetime President.

But back to Barack Obama’s exegesis on Lincoln’s eyes:

But it is precisely those imperfections–and the painful self-awareness of those failings etched in every crease of his face and reflected in those haunted eyes–that make him so compelling. For when the time came to confront the greatest moral challenge this nation has ever faced, this all too human man did not pass the challenge on to future generations. He neither demonized the fathers and sons who did battle on the other side nor sought to diminish the terrible costs of his war. In the midst of slavery’s dark storm and the complexities of governing a house divided, he somehow kept his moral compass pointed firm and true.

What I marvel at, what gives me such hope, is that this man could overcome depression, self-doubt and the constraints of biography and not only act decisively but retain his humanity. Like a figure from the Old Testament, he wandered the earth, making mistakes, loving his family but causing them pain, despairing over the course of events, trying to divine God’s will. He did not know how things would turn out, but he did his best…

Humor, ambiguity, complexity, compassion–all were part of his character. And as Lincoln called once upon the better angels of our nature, I believe that he is calling still, across the ages, to summon some measure of that character, the American character, in each of us today.

Funny how Mr. Obama neglected to mention the Copperheads as one of the obstacles Mr. Lincoln had to overcome.

Still, it almost sounds like he was talking about George Bush, doesn’t it?

Imagine, Mr. Obama got all of that from just studying a photograph of Lincoln — and just from his eyes.

But didn’t those same expressive eyes tell him how Lincoln would have handled a Senator who introduced a bill like Mr. Obama did in the middle of a war?

Obama has introduced a bill to prevent President Bush from increasing troop levels in Iraq and to remove U.S. combat forces from the country by March 31, 2008…

If not, Mr. Lincoln’s treatment of Clement Vallandigham might provide some further elucidation.

This article was posted by Steve Gilbert on Saturday, February 10th, 2007. Comments are currently closed.

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