Fox News reporter Bret Baier “was granted unprecedented access by George W. Bush” to put together a one hour documentary that reflects back on his presidency. The documentary will air this Sunday night.
Baier previewed his documentary — “George W. Bush: Fighting to the Finish” — on Fox News this afternoon. He said that what surprised him from the interview was the President’s repeated efforts to link himself to Abraham Lincoln:
We talked a lot about President Lincoln. And there’s going to be a lot of people out there who watch this hour and say, is he trying to equate himself with Lincoln?
I tell you what — he thinks about Lincoln and the tough times that he had during the Civil War. 600,000 dead. The country essentially hated him when he was leaving office.
And the President reflects on that. This is a President who is really reflecting on his place in history.
During Bush’s 2006 summer vacation in Crawford, the White House eagerly informed the media that Bush was going to be spending his time reading two historical books on the Lincoln presidency: “Lincoln: A Life of Purpose and Power,” by Richard Carwardine, and “Lincoln’s Greatest Speech: The Second Inaugural,” by Ronald C. White Jr.
Writing in Salon, Garret Epps responded to efforts to link Bush to Lincoln, writing “You, sir, are no Abe Lincoln”:
On the personal level, Lincoln had none of Bush’s obstinacy and egotism. He scorned yes men, and surrounded himself with Cabinet officials better known than he was, refusing to purge even those actively working against his own political interests. […]
Most important, Lincoln was a lawyer. It is hard to find any sign that Lincoln thought himself above the law. He had none of Bush’s scorn for procedures and rights. […]
George W. Bush is Lincoln the way Dan Quayle is Jack Kennedy.
Note to Bret Baier: Lincoln wasn’t “hated” when he left office. He was assassinated just after being re-elected by an overwhelming margin.