Matt Lewis

With malice toward some

Over at Commentary, Peter Wehner mocks the notion that President Obama is Lincolnesque. “[F]or all of his self-perceived similarities with Abraham Lincoln,” Wehner writes, Obama “is the antithesis of Lincoln when it comes to grace, a charitable spirit and a commitment to genuine reconciliation. Mr. Obama is, at his core, a divider. He seems to relish it, even when the moment calls for a temporary truce in our political wars.”

Thanks to Doris Kearns Goodwin, in recent years, Lincoln has become famous for embracing his rivals. This was consistent with his leadership style. In “President Lincoln,” William Lee Miller refers to “the golden thread of magnanimity and generosity that would wind its way through his presidency.”

One could attribute many things to President Obama, but magnanimity is probably not the first thing that comes to mind. During his second inaugural, President Lincoln offered “malice toward none” and “charity for all” to the nearly-defeated, slave-holding states that were in rebellion. But Obama didn’t echo that conciliatory sentiment to his political rivals — nor did he look to Jefferson, who in his first inaugural, said: “We are all Republicans, we are all Federalists.”

Instead, Obama treated his democratically-elected, loyal opposition much less charitably, implicitly accusing them of being anti-science war mongers who want to disenfranchise voters and take away your social security.

Obama might have sworn his oath of office on Lincoln’s bible, and he will give his next State of the Union on Lincoln’s birthday, but he’s no Lincoln.