Hey, let's stop comparing Obama to other presidents

What makes us so eager to find historical parallels for Mr. Obama? Why do we take one president and try to fit him into the mold of another? Maybe it is because more than halfway through his term, we just cannot agree on who Mr. Obama really is. Or maybe it is the same public fascination with historical personalities that lately has filled best-seller lists with presidential biographies. Or maybe it is just a surplus of shallow punditry in an era with endless hours of airtime and Internet space to fill.

“Sometimes I think the only president we haven’t been compared to is Franklin Pierce,” said Dan Pfeiffer, the White House communications director. “But I am not ruling out the possibility of that comparison sometime in the next couple of years.”…

[T]he eagerness to categorize seems to have hit new extremes with Mr. Obama, who has been compared to a dozen predecessors. With his youth and attractive family, he campaigned as a new Kennedy, then inherited the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression and found himself on the cover of Time digitally edited into a picture of Franklin Roosevelt, complete with cigarette holder. The New Yorker put a powdered wig on him as a new George Washington. And Mr. Obama himself emulated Lincoln by retracing his inaugural route to the capital, then encouraged the analogy by appointing his own “team of rivals.”…

“At its worst, that effort becomes like the parody of Hollywood pitch meetings — you know, this is like ‘Miami Vice’ meets ‘The Smurfs,’ or something. It’s Lincoln meets Reagan with a smidge of Harding,” he said. “But over all, I don’t think it’s illegitimate to try to understand the patterns of leadership each president applies, and to try to do some archaeology on its roots.”