Tuesday, September 6, 2016

He’d never get elected today! 13

If we are to understand this man we have to put him in the context we know, that of a contemporary president. To put it mildly, he was different from them, and different from what is currently successful translates as, well, the opposite of success.
Even so, can any of the Presidents who came after him match Lincoln’s unassailable sense of self assurance? Consider this: Lincoln had made what from an outsider’s point of view was a huge leap from a sleepy little two-man law firm in Podunk, USA to President of the United States, and he did it without missing a beat. The only explanation for such an apparently unexplainable leap is that he was supremely confident in himself. Lincoln never seems to have thought the following thought: “I wonder if I’ve gone too far, attempted too much, moved too swiftly? I wonder if this or that decision is warranted?”
That isn’t to say, of course, that he never made any mistakes. One thinks of his over-estimation of pro-Unionist sentiment in the South in late 1860/early 1861, or his often-repeated proposal – no blacks would take him up on it since it was fraught with vast impracticalities - that freed blacks choose to be sent out of the country. The key for a man who said, “my policy is to have no policy” is that he merely changed directions, like some martial arts practitioner who absorbs the energy of his opponent’s blows, and in the process turns that energy against that same opponent. Lincoln gives boundless luster to that term we in the 21st century consider the ultimate sin for any politician: flip-flopping.

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