Great presidents rise above circumstance. Not Obama, at least not yet. At a news conference Tuesday marking the 100th day of his second and final term, the president seemed unwilling or unable to overcome stubborn GOP opposition.
— Ron Fournier, National Journal, yesterday (h/t Jonathan Chait, New York magazine, today)
Fournier’s right, of course. About Abraham Lincoln, that is. Lincoln was unwilling or unable to overcome stubborn Southern opposition to his agenda of ending slavery and keeping the Union whole.
Personally, I think it was the former. Unless you count that declaration-of-war thing. Although if you do, then you also have to count that victory at Appomattox. Which would mean Lincoln was able to overcome stubborn Southern opposition to his agenda of ending slavery and keeping the Union whole, after all. And that would mean that he must have been willing to do so, unless that victory was an accident.
Although, under the new definition of the word leadership, that kind of thing doesn’t count, because persuasion just didn’t work in that case.
Take me to your leader, Mr. Fournier. Once you find one who isn’t a hypnotist or the head of a parliamentarian government. Unless, of course, by rising above circumstance, you mean military coup de tat.
UPDATE: Reader Coberly commented below:
I agree with you about the kindergarten commentators, but it is impossible for me to tell from your article if Fournier said that about Lincoln, or if YOU are saying it to mock what F. said about Obama. If so you are stepping on your own point.
In any case O is not a great leader because he is in league with the folks who are destroying the country through financial fraud. unless, of course, he is a great leader for THEM.
In response to which I wrote the following clarification:
Fournier didn’t mention Lincoln–except by inference, since Lincoln didn’t persuade his ideological opponents. My point, which I don’t think I stepped on, is that these people–Fournier and the others like him–are making a claim that is so obviously sophistic that it’s surely long past time for them to stop making it.
My intended point was most definitely not to suggest that Obama is a leader. Good grace. He’s a pathetic, habitual follower. But saying that he’s not a great president because he hasn’t persuaded the Republican House majority and some members of the Republican Senate minority to cooperate with him is intolerably stupid. Lincoln was unable to persuade his political enemies, so these pundits must think Lincoln was no leader and not a great president. It’s a stupifyingly silly non sequitur.
Hope that takes care of it.