Conservatives are outraged that President-elect Obama has the audacity to invoke Abraham Lincoln when talking about his vision for the presidency. They point to the fact that Obama often talked about the Doris Kearns Goodwin book “Team of Rivals,” and said that he would like to put together a similar Cabinet. They’re also outraged that Obama uses Lincolnesque rhetoric is his speeches and is holding part of the inauguration at the Lincoln Memorial.
Yesterday on Fox and Friends, for example, Glenn Beck and the show’s hosts were saying that it was “amazing” that Obama has the gall to have a “Lincolnesque celebration.” “It’s another building of the Pantheon,” said Beck. Similarly, last night, Sean Hannity and his guest, conservative author Larry Schweikart, said that Obama is trying to steal Lincoln’s identity:
HANNITY: And in Your America tonight, Barack Obama is doing everything he can to convince Americans that he is the rightful inheritor of Abraham Lincoln’s legacy.
SCHWEIKART: Lincoln, though, had a war to deal with. Obama doesn’t. Lincoln is known as the great emancipator. If Obama spends money the way he’s planning to, he’ll be known as the great incarcerator because we’re all going to end up in debtor’s prison.
Hannity also claimed that Lincoln would be “on a very different side on the Gitmo issue” from Obama. Yet less than an hour later, in the same episode, Hannity showed part two of his interview with Bush, in which the President talks at length about similarities between himself and Lincoln. Pointing to a painting in the Oval Office of the former president, Bush said, “I have studied Lincoln a lot during my presidency.” He later added, “I’m not trying to compare myself to Lincoln, but I do believe in the universality of freedom.” Watch it:
Beck’s outrage at presidents equating themselves with Lincoln is disingenuous. After all, in December 2007, he said that Bush has “Abraham Lincoln-honorable reasons…he has chosen not to say certain things.” Even Fox News has said that Bush is “trying to equate himself with Lincoln.” Evidently, a heavily unpopular president trying to disingenuously convince the public of his greatness is better than an incoming president striving to actually model himself on a successful presidency.
HANNITY: And in Your America tonight, Barack Obama is doing everything he can to convince Americans that he is the rightful inheritor of Abraham Lincoln’s legacy. [...]
HANNITY: I — first, off the top, I — just remember Abraham Lincoln was a Republican.
SCHWEIKART: Abraham Lincoln was a Republican. I guess they see a similarity because Lincoln spent a lot of money, and Barack Obama wants to spend a lot of money.
Lincoln, though, had a war to deal with. Obama doesn’t. Lincoln is known as the great emancipator. If Obama spends money the way he’s planning to, he’ll be known as the great incarcerator because we’re all going to end up in debtor’s prison. [...]
HANNITY: Yes. Well, one of the other things that I found pretty interesting is, you know, where would Abraham Lincoln be as it relates to Gitmo? Didn’t he put aside civil rights and even shut down press outlets and issues of habeas corpus as it relates to those issues? I think he’d be on a very different side on the Gitmo issue, don’t you think?
SCHWEIKART: He would be on a totally different side. [...]
BUSH: This is where the president puts the most influential president.
HANNITY: Abraham Lincoln.
BUSH: Abraham Lincoln. In my case, I am conflicted about the most influential president, so I say that the portrait of the 41st president is in my heart.
HANNITY: Your dad.
BUSH: And Lincoln on the wall. I have come to greatly admire both men, but — but I have studied Lincoln a lot during my presidency. I’ve read a lot about him and a couple of things that he teaches.
One: he teaches that the president must speak with clarity on certain truths. He said all men are created equal under God. He could have hedged a little bit and said, Well, maybe some of us aren’t equal in 1864. But he said all men are created equal under God.
I — and believe me. I’m not trying to compare myself to Lincoln, but I do believe in the universality of freedom. And I have said consistently in my presidency, there is a God and a gift of that Almighty to every man, woman and child is freedom.