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The Expansionist
Tuesday, December 02, 2008
 
Mr. Betrayal. He hasn't even taken office yet, but Barack Obama is already looking like a disaster, a total sellout who repudiates the voters who put him in office, to fill the highest ranks of his Administration with people we don't want.
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Obama is turning an entirely female face to the world, with not only a female Secretary of State, but also a female Ambassador to the UN. We are now officially a nation of pussies that no real man in a powerful country will pay any attention to.
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Obama is keeping in office a Republican appointee for what is, in most times, the second most important Cabinet position, Secretary of Defense. Obama is also nominating for head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff a personal friend of the despicable liar and slanderer John McCain, whom the voters rejected.
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Democrats voted against the Republicans, but the new, "Democratic" President is installing Republicans anyway!
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Virtually his entire economic team in this time of crisis is Jewish. The Nation is 98% gentile, and almost all of that 98% is Christian. But Paul Volcker, Larry Summers, and probably Peter Orszag, are Jewish, as is Obama's chief of staff (Rahm Emanuel) and most senior all-issue advisor (David Axelrod).
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What's going on? The pretense that Obama wants a modern equivalent of Abraham Lincoln's "Team of Rivals", diverse voices offering counsel, doesn't explain it, because there are 300 million Americans with hugely diverse views. He doesn't have to surround himself with women, Republicans, and Jews to get strong disagreements and widely differing recommendations from an inner circle.

Little girls sit on the bench built into Gutzon Borglum's statue of Abraham Lincoln outside Cass Gilbert's Old Essex County Courthouse in Newark, New Jersey.*

Is Barack Obama another "Decider" who is no such thing, but just a puppet of his betters? Is the real power of his Administration going to be held by unelected "advisors"? Is he going to be another "different kind of Democrat" like Bill Clinton: a Republican?
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I dread the news of each Obama appointment. He is filling his Administration with people of extremely dubious principles and character who do not have the best interests of this Republic at heart. Even the good people he has chosen seem peculiarly mismatched to the job assigned. Why would Obama choose Bill Richardson (a man of impeccable distinction), whose expertise is in diplomacy, as Secretary of Commerce, if Obama is concerned about protecting Americans from unfair competition? He's not supposed to be negotiating new free-trade agreements to give away every job still left in the United States, so why does he need a diplomat in Commerce?
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The Fox News Channel's odious Radical Rightwinger Sean Hannity said today that Lincoln's "Team of Rivals" was a failure, and most were out of office before Lincoln's first term expired. An opinion piece by Matthew Pinsker in the Los Angeles Times turned a similarly jaundiced eye upon the "Team of Rivals" concept on November 18th. ("Matthew Pinsker, author of 'Lincoln's Sanctuary: Abraham Lincoln and the Soldiers' Home,' teaches Civil War history at Dickinson College in Pennsylvania.")

President Lincoln's Cabinet was far more dysfunctional than Doris Kearns Goodwin's book would have us believe. * * * the impact of repeated disloyalty and unnecessary backroom drama from him and several other Cabinet officers was a significant factor in the early failures of the Union war effort. * * *

Goodwin suggests that Lincoln's quiet confidence and impressive emotional intelligence enabled him to survive and ultimately forge an effective team out of his former rivals, but that's more wishful thinking than serious analysis. * * *

Consider this inconvenient truth: Out of the four leading vote-getters for the 1860 Republican presidential nomination whom Lincoln placed on his original team, three left during his first term -- one in disgrace, one in defiance and one in disgust.

Lincoln's Cabinet was no team. His rivals proved to be uneven as subordinates. Some were capable despite their personal disloyalty, yet others were simply disastrous.

Lincoln was a political genius, but his model for Cabinet-building should stand more as a cautionary tale than as a leadership manual.
I have never understood the adoration of Abraham Lincoln. As I read American history, Lincoln very near lost the Civil War. He appointed one incompetent after another to lead the war effort, and the war dragged on so long that public support started to wane. Had it gone on even a year longer, the electorate might have said "To hell with it. Let the bastards go. They'll never make it on their own. And good riddance." We really did come very close to losing the Civil War, all because Lincoln was a very bad judge of character and competence. And that's what Obama wants to bring to his Administration? More bad advice from women, in this case, the historian Doris Kearns Goodwin.
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Lincoln is called "The Great Emancipator", but realists have pointed out that the Emancipation Proclamation was a practical nullity, in that it applied only to areas in insurrection, where U.S. law did not hold sway, and slaves in areas not in insurrection were NOT freed.
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Lincoln was so busy simply trying desperately, and incompetently, to hold the Union together that he failed to achieve anything positive at all that anyone can remember. He preserved the Union. He did not enlarge it. He did not make it better. He did not free the slaves in areas that did not attempt to secede. He favored 'repatriating' freed slaves to Africa, because he felt they were not fit to function in an advanced civilization, for reasons of racial inferiority. So why is he endlessly praised?

I suspect Lincoln would have been very uncomfortable sitting this close to little black girls in real life. He did not advocate social mixing of the races. (Remember that he was born in the South (Kentucky), of what we might today regard as redneck stock.) We're different now. We might say "better than that now". But at least different, especially in a place like Newark, which is now a great biracial success story.

Perhaps it is because of Lincoln's sublime rhetoric. That would explain Obama's admiration. Obama is very good with rhetoric too. But the Presidency is about a lot more than rhetoric.
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George Washington had trouble winning his war too, but he was working with a ragtag bunch of volunteers from a ragtag semi-union of mutually suspicious colonies-in-revolt. George Washington welded together the newly independent states — independent of each other as much as from Britain — into a new Nation, something no one else could have done, and everybody in his day knew it. George Washington warned us against entanglements in the quarrels of others, and established the two-term precedent that we had to write into the Constitution when FDR violated it. Perhaps Obama should be looking to Washington as mentor and guide for his new Administration, despite Washington's having owned slaves (which he emancipated in his will). Leave Lincoln to the statues all over this country, like the one shown in my pix in today's entry to this blog, a seated, 1½-lifesize bronze in my city, Newark, NJ, by Gutzon Borglum, the sculptor of Mount Rushmore. We also have a park named for Lincoln, which used to be South Park (no joke) but was renamed shortly after Lincoln's death because he spoke very briefly on the steps of a church near that park.

Newark has a park named for George Washington too, in which stands this other fine bronze, by another major sculptor, J. Massey Rhind. Obama should come to Newark and sit on the bench where the little girls sat, then stand in front of the Washington statue, then read the plaque on Trinity & St. Philip's Episcopal Cathedral not far from there that speaks to Washington's having passed under the shadow of that church's steeple. We have a sycamore tree called Washington's Tree, that was alive when Washington marched down Broad Street mere feet from that tree. It's in very bad shape, but it survives.


Lincoln is not the model for an Obama Administration. Lincoln nearly lost the war, and was shot by someone he wanted us to embrace. "Hold your friends close and your enemies closer" is the way Cassius got near enuf to stab Caesar.

Bust of Julius Caesar in Newark Public Library.

Many people have wanted to compare Obama to Kennedy. Obama himself seems to want to compare himself to Lincoln. Need we really point out that both were assassinated? (And yes, Newark has a statue (bust) of JFK too. Newark has all kinds of things that might surprise people.)

(Black) Comic Tommy Davidson does a bit called something like "The Shortest Inaugural Address", in which he plays the first black President. He approaches the rostrum, says "Ladies and gentlemen", and is cut down by an assassin's bullet. Washington died in old age. And when news of his death reached Europe, which was then engaged in the Napoleonic Wars, commanders of both British and French forces doffed their hats in honor of the first great American.
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The Nation that elected a (half-)black man as President is, in a very real way, what Lincoln called "a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal". That's the rhetorical part. But we need as a guide to an Obama Administration the example of George Washington, who understood the precedential, not just Presidential, value of everything he did. Washington's Cabinet had strong personalities, but no matter their hostilities to one another, they were all devoted to the President and to the new Nation he was creating. Washington's Cabinet included Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton, two extraordinary men with opposed views on a wide range of issues. But they both loved Washington and the United States. Can anyone believe that Hillary Clinton loves EITHER Barack Obama OR the United States more than she loves herself? I don't.
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* I thought I'd add a little 'color' to this discussion, with some of my fotos that I had at hand because I had used them in my fotoblog Newark USA.
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(The current U.S. military death toll in Iraq, according to the website "Iraq Coalition Casualties", is 4,207 — for Israel.)

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