Saturday, July 12, 2008

Lincoln and Obama

Susan Schulten pointed me to this wonderful article by Gary Wills, in which he compares Obama's race speech from March to Lincoln's Cooper Union address in February of 1860. This is a fitting comparison, given the political circumstances of both speeches. Both were unconventional and relatively inexperienced Illinois politicians, both had risen to prominence by opposing wars, and both were challenging more established senators in their runs for the presidency. But the particularly interesting similarity was in the aim of both speeches:
The most damaging charge against each was an alleged connection with unpatriotic and potentially violent radicals. Lincoln's Republican Party was accused of supporting abolitionists like William Lloyd Garrison, who burned the Constitution, or John Brown, who took arms against United States troops, or those who rejected the Supreme Court because of its Dred Scott decision. Obama was suspected of Muslim associations and of following the teachings of an inflammatory preacher who damned the United States. How to face such charges? Each decided to address them openly in a prominent national venue, well before their parties' nominating conventions—Lincoln at the Cooper Union in New York, Obama at the Constitution Center in Philadelphia.
Definitely worth the read.

No comments: