“There is something in the wind abroad in this land besides the vapors of spring.”
-– Jim Kunstler
I’m moved to say this not just from conviction -- indeed, certainty -- but because Ding-Dong (George W. Bush) turned up last week at the opening of the new, improved, high-tech, holographic, pornographic, Disney-style “Lincoln Museum” in Springfield, Illinois, dedicated to the memory of Abraham Lincoln. There, Dubya delivered himself of a few remarks.
“I am so honored to be here,” he said, “to dedicate a great institution honoring such a great American. Laura and I were just given a tour.”
Imagine that! While you’re at it, imagine Universal Studios’ “Island of Adventure” in Orlando. Throw in a couple of spooky Lincoln faces, a lot of guns going off at Antietam, John Wilkes Booth jumping down from the assassination scene, and there you have it -- History Lite. A cheaper show couldn’t exist outside Crawford, Texas.
Better people than I, last week -- provided they could wade their way through all those stories about the pope, and all the TV dramas pretending that “American voters never knew” Franklin Roosevelt had polio -- tried to balance Bush’s brain with Lincoln’s. All of them, so far as I know, have since run shrieking into corners, begging for death, before another word escapes the mouth of the Idiot-in-Chief. I refer especially to David Rossie’s piece in The Binghamton (NY) Press and Sun-Bulletin, which pled -- no, wept -- for Americans to wake up and see how far they’ve been duped. Rossie did nothing but quote the respective commanders:
Lincoln (1858): “As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master. This expresses my idea of democracy. Whatever differs from this, to the extent of the difference, is no democracy.”
Dubya (2003): “I had the opportunity to go out to Goree Island [on the west coast of Africa, in what is now Senegal] and talk about what slavery meant to America. It’s very interesting when you think about it. The slaves who left here to go to America, because of their steadfast [sic] and their religion and their belief in freedom, helped change America.”
OK. “Most of you all know,” as Bush continued in Springfield, that “the First Lady was a librarian. Any time she can get me into a library is a pretty good deal, as far as she's concerned.”
That Goofus was in a museum, not a library, when he said this, is a distinction I’m willing to overlook. That he doesn’t know the difference between the two is a distinction I’m not willing to overlook when he compares himself to Abraham Lincoln, and especially when he throws the burden on the “First Lady.” (If she were a real librarian, she’d still be one.)
“[Lincoln’s] very election as president was regarded as a cause for war," Dubya stumbled on. "And as he sent legions of men to death and sacrifice, his own burden began to show in a lined and tired face."
Leave it to Ding-Dong to render the whole thing as a matter of cosmetics. And leave it to him, also, to know nothing about Lincoln, who declared, as he sent “men to death and sacrifice” during the Civil War, that his head was “low and bent”; that no pride could accrue to it; and that his only goal was to preserve the Union. Not the “Republicans” or the “Democrats” or the slaves or anyone else – but the Union. Later, in the Second Inaugural Address of 1865, he hoped that “the better angels of our nature” would win the day. And, when he said that, he wasn’t talking about “God.”
“Mr. Lincoln had no faith and no hope in the usual acceptation of those words,” said Mary Lincoln after her husband’s death (speaking of “First Ladies”). “He never joined a church; but still, as I believe, he was a religious man by nature. He first seemed to think about the subject when our boy Willie died, and then more than ever about the time he went to Gettysburg; but it was a kind of poetry in his nature, and he was never a technical Christian.”
Uh-oh. Last week, Bush’s self-chosen vice president, Dick Cheney, announced that he, in his capacity as president of the Senate, would cast the decisive vote, if necessary, to further the Republican party’s goal of “ending the filibuster,” the so-called nuclear option. This is supposed to be done in the interest of appointing “Christian” judges to the federal bench -- “people of faith.”
Any student of history knows that this effort is not about “faith”. It’s not about “Christianity” either. It’s a blatant and garish attempt to destroy the constitutional separation of powers, and to put that power, when all is lost, solely in the hands of the executive, the “president.” Who is, of course, a figurehead -- no Lincoln, you might say.
In 1862, Mary Lincoln heard that one of her brothers, fighting on the Confederate side, had been killed in battle. Elizabeth Keckley, her best friend and a black woman, broke the news to her and wondered that she was not devastated by it.
“Of course,” Mary said, “it is but natural that I should feel for one so nearly related to me, but not to the extent that you suppose. He made his choice long ago. . . . He has been fighting against us; and since he chose to be our deadly enemy, I see no special reason why I should bitterly mourn his death.”
Peter Kurth is the author of international bestselling books including Anastasia: The Riddle of Anna Anderson, Isadora: A Sensational Life, and a biography of the anti-fascist journalist Dorothy Thompson, American Cassandra: The Life of Dorothy Thompson. His essays have appeared in Salon, Vanity Fair, New York Times Book Review, and many others. Peter lives in Burlington, Vermont. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit his website at: http://www.peterkurth.com/
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