It's God's Will, Not Mine

Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Lee Siegel thinks about Obama and Lincoln. It’s a very interesting article and I was struck by the following:

… there’s something puzzling about [Obama’s] obsession with a president whose tenure was entirely taken up with conducting the bloodiest war the modern world had seen, and whose eloquence and intelligence we perhaps would not be aware of if the republic’s imminent dissolution hadn’t inspired him to remarkable feats of self-mastery and self-expression. For at times, Lincoln’s mighty rhetorical gift led him into morally dangerous or emotionally disconnected waters…

.. Lincoln encouraged his generals to pursue a “total war” that would destroy 50,000 civilians along with 620,000 soldiers and cripple hundreds of thousands more, [while] his rhetoric continued to intensify in power, and in its lack of human connection. In his Second Inaugural address, justly celebrated for its potent language and its magnanimity, Lincoln also spoke these cruel and unmagnanimous lines: “If God wills that it continue… until every drop of blood drawn with the lash, shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said ‘the judgments of the Lord, are true and righteous altogether.'”

Yet even before the war, Lincoln had seen himself as a divinely appointed hero at the center of history. On the eve of his inauguration, he declaimed: “A duty devolves upon me which is, perhaps, greater than that which has devolved upon any other man since the days of Washington.”

Mr. Obama, like Lincoln, has a very powerful sense of himself as an agent of historical destiny. That sentiment recurs throughout his two autobiographies; it also surfaced in a slightly jarring moment in his victory speech on the night of his election, when he spoke of the election having “many stories that will be told for generations.”

Indeed, Mr. Obama’s words sometimes leap with a degree of vanity beyond a clear meaning, just as Lincoln’s own grandiloquence sometimes led him astray. There is a certain logic to this. In 2008, a political leader’s every word is subject to such scrutiny that speaking in sonorous abstractions offers protection against meticulous parsing. But the twin dangers of such rhetoric are to raise unrealizable expectations on the one hand, and to do violence to meaning on the other…

…The 16th president barely had a day in office when whatever critical political question he might have posed did not have to do with war. Insofar as Lincoln had ideas about the society and the politics of his day, his questions would have left Mr. Obama disappointed. Lincoln was a bootstrap individualist, who believed that the free market offered the most opportunities to the most people, provided that they had willpower and ambition. His domestic positions would have fitted nearly seamlessly into the Republican Party of today. Though Lincoln was kind and rich in empathy himself, he would not have cast a sympathetic eye toward redistributing wealth between lucky rich and unlucky poor.

No, Mr. Obama’s Lincoln is the wartime Lincoln who barely knew a minute’s peace; the militant Lincoln who elevated preservation of the Union over his abhorrence of slavery; the Christlike Lincoln who brooded mysteriously over first and last things; the divinely appointed Lincoln who felt that he could not escape history because he embodied history. Calm, precise, and methodical he may have been, but Lincoln was, in his own mind, that very “towering genius” that “thirsts and burns for distinction” of which he spoke when he was a young man. Not everyone, even his supporters, would agree with President-elect Obama that such an image is “soothing.”

It’s unimaginable that any politician nowadays , let alone Barry, would say anything like “every drop of blood drawn with the lash” must be “paid by another drawn with the sword” and to proclaim (astonishingly as it must be to the ears of liberals), that the resulting carnage is due not to his own decisions but to the “righteous and true judgments of the Lord.”

And they say George Bush is a religious fanatic who imagines God is on his side. And remember the outrage over Sarah Palin’s comment that she prayed we were doing “God’s will” in Iraq?

Of course, it turned out that the amount of blood drawn by the sword was unimaginably greater than that drawn by the lash (more than six million in today’s population), but that was all a long time ago.

And the New York Times quotes far left “human rights” lawyer David Cole on preventive detention:

…Even some liberals are arguing that to deal realistically with terrorism, the new administration should seek Congressional authority for preventive detention of terrorism suspects deemed too dangerous to release even if they cannot be successfully prosecuted.

“You can’t be a purist and say there’s never any circumstance in which a democratic society can preventively detain someone,” said one civil liberties lawyer, David D. Cole, a Georgetown law professor who has been a critic of the Bush administration…

For years they’ve been telling us that only innocent shepherds have been detained in Guantanamo, but apparently they’ve discovered since the election a number of whom they deem “too dangerous to release even if they cannot be successfully prosecuted.” Never mind!
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