Donate to JWR

In this issue

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Dec. 5, 2008 8 Kislev 5769

Lessons from Lincoln

By Suzanne Fields

Printer Friendly Version
Email this article | Barack Obama has been accused of hubris and arrogance for his continuing references of identification with Abraham Lincoln, who by the measure of many was the greatest of all our presidents.

"In Lincoln's rise from poverty, his ultimate mastery of language and law, his capacity to overcome personal loss and remain determined in the face of repeated defeat ... he reminded me not just of my own struggles," he told Time magazine as he set out in his quest for the White House. "He also reminded me of a larger fundamental element of American life — the enduring beliefs that we can constantly remake ourselves to fit our larger dreams."

Hubris or not, Obama seeks a hero worthy of imitation, but the obvious similarities tell us little about what to expect. Both are lanky lawyers from Illinois, with scant legislative and no administrative experience. Both are relatively young for the White House, and both are endowed with a gift of powerful eloquence. Both came to Washington with "potential." Lincoln's biography has been filled out in thousands of books documenting his accomplishments and failures.

He may be the most written about man after Christ and Shakespeare; new books flourish with fresh information. More than one biographer points out how Lincoln was strong enough to put his enemies and antagonists in his Cabinet, welcoming challenges from strong leaders with whom he disagreed. They suggest that Obama follows in Lincoln's footsteps with the appointments of Hillary Clinton and Robert Gates. But, like Lincoln's, the mixed Obama Cabinet may show mixed results.

Both men suffered from associations with smarmy men. Southerners blamed Lincoln for the incendiary rhetoric of abolitionist John Brown, who was hanged for leading armed insurrection to free the slaves. Lincoln condemned Brown's murderous tactics but did not extend his criticism to sympathizers who advocated peaceful means to make their points. He urged mutual respect for differing opinions when it was difficult to reach middle ground.

"Jeremiah Wright was Obama's John Brown," writes historian Gary Wills in the New York Review of Books. Obama separated himself from the anti-American message of his pastor, saying his message arose from "a profoundly distorted view of this country" and failed to recognize how America had changed in providing opportunity to blacks.

Obama, like Lincoln, did not condemn those who listened to Wright for a different message. He said Wright preached a message of personal responsibility as well as hatred of America, asking the congregation to demand more from fathers, to spend more time with their children, reading to them and teaching them to accept challenges.

"Ironically, this quintessentially American — and yes, conservative — notion of self-help found frequent expression in Reverend Wright's sermons," Obama said in the first of two speeches about the preacher and his impact on the campaign. He called it an appeal to "the better angels of our nature," but it was the devil in the details that bit back.

Political debate in the age of the Internet has been dumbed-down into a swamp of ignorance, and Obama, like Lincoln, draws on poetic cadence to deliver a message of hope in troubled times. Pretty words can camouflage a multitude of cynicism, but we can hope that they heal our divisions: "As Lincoln said to a nation far more divided than ours: 'We are not enemies but friends. ... Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection.'"

John McCain sounded a contrapuntal theme in his concession speech, calling for "the necessary compromises to bridge our differences and help restore our prosperity, defend our security in a dangerous world." He recalled that it was only a century ago that Theodore Roosevelt invited Booker T. Washington to dine at the White House to the outrage of many Americans (and by no means all of them in the South).

"America today is a world away from the cruel and frightful bigotry of that time," he said. "There is no better evidence of this than the election of an African-American to the presidency of the United States."

It seems fitting that the inauguration celebration takes its theme from the Gettysburg Address, with ringing words particularly precious in the age of terrorism: "that this nation shall have a new birth of freedom; and that this government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."

Every weekday publishes what many in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

Comment on JWR contributor Suzanne Fields' column by clicking here.


Suzanne Fields Archives

© 2006, Creators Syndicate, Suzanne Fields