You know who Barack Obama is like? Honest Abe. Just ask … Barack Obama:
“Democracy is always a messy business in a big country like this,” Obama responded. “When you listen to what the federalists said about the anti-federalists … those guys were tough. Lincoln, they used to talk about him almost as bad as they talk about me.”
The comparison “is hysterical … that is really laughable in many respects,” said Alvin Felzenberg, the author of a book on American presidents. “You couldn’t print things today they said about Lincoln.” Felzenberg teaches at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania, and was the chief spokesman for the 9/11 Commission.
Criticism of Lincoln in his day “was even more vitriolic than what you see about Obama,” said Eric Foner, a Pulitzer Prize-winning presidential historian at Columbia University. “Obama is a guy who has a thin skin and does not take criticism well.” Foner’s Pulitzer-winning volume was titled ”The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery.”
Well, maybe he’s more like Martin Luther King, Jr. Who should we ask? Why not … Barack Obama?
And now that King has his own memorial on the Mall I think that we forget when he was alive there was nobody who was more vilified, nobody who was more controversial, nobody who was more despairing at times. There was a decade that followed the great successes of Birmingham and Selma in which he was just struggling, fighting the good fight, and scorned, and many folks angry. But what he understood, what kept him going, was that the arc of moral universe is long but it bends towards justice. But it doesn’t bend on its own. It bends because all of us are putting our hand on the arc and we are bending it in that direction. And it takes time. And it’s hard work. And there are frustrations.
Lincoln? MLK? Nah, those aren’t quite the comparisons that come to mind. This seems more appropriate:
“Are you getting frustrated?” Apparently so…
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