Rich Lowry, editor of the National Review and author of a recently released book on Abraham Lincoln, says President Barack Obama “is in a long line of Lincoln body snatchers.”
“I believe Lincoln would be appalled by much that has been wrought by progressivism,” Lowry told The Daily Caller in an email interview about his book, “Lincoln Unbound: How an Ambitious Young Railsplitter Saved the American Dream—And How We Can Do it Again.”
“He would hate the class warfare. He would disdain the lack of realism about human nature. He wouldn’t understand the casual contempt for the Constitution and the Founders. He would be baffled by opposition to exploiting the country’s fossil fuel resources to the utmost and by development-impeding regulation. He would be troubled by the cultural breakdown that is eroding the work ethic and family stability. He might detect in welfare state policies supporting able-bodied, non-working adults a whiff of the moral stink of the plantation.”
According to estimates, over 15,000 books have been written about Abraham Lincoln. So what does Lowry’s tome add to the already extensive literary portrait of honest Abe?
“I don’t think you can really understand Lincoln without getting what I say about him in my book,” Lowry said. “We know so much about the Civil War and the drama surrounding the assassination, but Lincoln’s worldview was formed well before those momentous events. I think other books get to the ‘what’ and ‘how’ of Lincoln. ‘Lincoln Unbound’ gets to the ‘why.’”
While Lowry said Lincoln had a “more activist view of government than contemporary Republicans,” he countered the notion that Lincoln was the father of big government, as some Lincoln critics suggest.
“The government got bigger to fight the war but immediately shrank in size afterwards,” Lowry explained.
“Whether you support or oppose the transcontinental railroad or the Homestead Act — two of the signature policies of the Civil War congress — they are nothing like the transfer programs of the New Deal and Great Society, nor did they involve the massive regulation and bureaucracy of our administrative state. The true turn in American history toward big government is the responsibility of FDR, not Abraham Lincoln.”
In the interview, Lowry didn’t shy away from the more difficult questions about Lincoln’s legacy. Indeed, he addressed head on perhaps the most important question yet to be answered about Lincoln: What would he have thought of the car company Lincoln being named after him?
“He would love it!” Lowry exclaimed.
“He had a deep interest in mechanical implements and would always stop to examine anything he saw that was new when he was out riding the circuit as a lawyer. He had such a knack for understanding mechanics that he was known as an excellent lawyer on patent cases. And he loved transportation innovations, as can be seen in his support for his beloved railroads. So I believe he would consider having a car company named after him a high honor.”
See TheDC’s full interview with Lowry on his book, the best advice his mentor Bill Buckley ever gave him and the three books that most influenced him: