Monday, February 12, 2007

Even Aaron's Lincoln's beard!

Birthday memorials on the federal calendar are probably the closest thing Americans have to saints' feast days on the liturgical calendar. The main difference is that saints are usually remembered not on their birthday, but on the day of their martyrdom/death. Regardless, in both cases, the idea is that on their celebration day we should reflect on what made a particular man or woman great and how we can imitate their actions in our own lives. Today is Lincoln's birthday.

Ironically, though I was born during the the tenure of the greatest president America has produced in over a century, these days I possess a nothing more than woeful cynicism toward anything that falls into the "American political leadership" bucket. I bemoan the tyrannical relativism, debilitating doublespeak, and asphyxiating PC obsession that characterize our current political climate. The poignancy of the sad state of affairs is made especially explicit as we begin discussing 2008 presidential hopefuls (God help us).

Of course, the yang to the current yin are men like Lincoln. It was he who succesfully navigated the nation through the most critical moment its history. It was he who unapologetically reminded us that morality is the linchpin of our political freedom and liberty - not populism, not some delusional form of libertarianism - but morality, so declared and signed in blood in our Declaration of Independence.

It was he who masterfully delivered rhetoric as powerful and as to the quick as the Second Inaugural, the thought of which anything even approaching its magnitude being delivered in our era being all but unfathomable.

One eighth of the whole population were colored slaves, not distributed generally over the Union, but localized in the Southern part of it. These slaves constituted a peculiar and powerful interest. All knew that this interest was, somehow, the cause of the war. To strengthen, perpetuate, and extend this interest was the object for which the insurgents would rend the Union, even by war; while the government claimed no right to do more than to restrict the territorial enlargement of it.

Neither party expected for the war, the magnitude, or the duration, which it has already attained. Neither anticipated that the cause of the conflict might cease with, or even before, the conflict itself should cease. Each looked for an easier triumph, and a result less fundamental and astounding. Both read the same Bible, and pray to the same God; and each invokes His aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God's assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men's faces; but let us judge not that we be not judged.

The prayers of both could not be answered; that of neither has been answered fully. The Almighty has his own purposes. "Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh!" If we shall suppose that American Slavery is one of those offences which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South, this terrible war, as the woe due to those by whom the offence came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a Living God always ascribe to Him?

Fondly do we hope--fervently do we pray--that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue, until all the wealth piled by the bond-man's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash, shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said "the judgments of the Lord, are true and righteous altogether"

With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation's wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan--to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations.
As literally tons have been and could be written about the behemoth that was Lincoln, no simplistic blurb here could ever do him justice. Still, as today we remember him, the greatest leader in American history, the question remains: which man is our Lincoln? Or, more generally: who will embody greatness for our generation?



At 4:44 PM, February 12, 2007, Anonymous frankiefirefox said...

Ronald Reagan? Are you nuts? Ever heard of a cat named Jimmy Carter?

At 5:42 PM, February 12, 2007, Blogger Richard said...

Powerline had a nice excerpt of Lincolnian eloquence too. And Bloc Party....yesssir!

At 1:01 AM, February 13, 2007, Blogger Vince said...

Oh Francis, no no no no no.

Powerline is the poop.

As is Bloc Party! Rawwwwwwwwwwwk.

At 7:15 PM, February 13, 2007, Anonymous Cole said...

Very key for '08: "Which MAN is our Lincoln?"

"Politics is supposed to be the second oldest profession. I have come to realize that it bears a very close resemblance to the first."
-Ronald Reagan


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