The other day, I had the privilege of attending a special screening of Lincoln on the 20th Century Fox Lot. The film is by no means a masterpiece, but it is well made and will probably be well received when it opens nationwide this weekend. The director, Steven Spielberg, did a fine job of capturing the Civil War period and the emotions driving the war which killed over 500,000 Americans. However, the movie was flawed and definitely a little long.
Lincoln was portrayed by Daniel Day Lewis, as the story teller he really was. In fact, almost every scene has Mr. Lincoln, telling a story to sell his policy to his rivals. And, the majority of the policy portrayed in this movie was ending the war and getting the House of Representatives to approve the 13th Amendment. In fact, the movie is less a biography of Abe Lincoln and more of an explanation of the wheeling and dealing that must go on behind the scenes to get a major piece of legislation through Congress. In fact, other than a short opening and ending sequence, 90% of the film takes place during January, 1865.
Even in this short time period, Spielberg does manage to stuff in a lot about Lincoln. He shows the extreme grief Lincoln and his wife suffered over the loss of their son, Willie. It shows Lincoln to be the loving father to Robert and Tad. And, it shows the somewhat volatile relationship between Lincoln and his wife, Mary Todd. So, besides the political nature of the film, we do get some insight into Lincoln, the person.
My point of this article though is not to write a review of Lincoln. I’m sure there will be many written both this weekend and last. My point is to compare the final days of the Lincoln presidency in 1865 to the Presidency of the current occupant of the White House, Barack Obama.
Everything I have read about Lincoln which includes numerous biographies and especially the biography upon which this movie was based: Team of Rivals, , shows Lincoln to be a tireless worker who took his job very seriously. In fact, the movie shows him working until the middle of the night on many occasions. He constantly did what was necessary to achieve his goal of keeping the country together. In fact, during the negotiations over the 13th Amendment, he could have ended the War on two occasions – one if he would have accepted a negotiated peace between the two countries and two if he would have accepted slavery as part of the settlement. Both times, he did not compromise. He got what he wanted and the country was better for it.
The current occupant of the White House is not so tireless. As we know, he seems to care more about his golf outings, vacations and weekly basketball game than he cares about his job. In fact, of of the biggest complaints about him besides his policies is that he has continued campaigning during his four years in office, never once to put his re-election at risk to do the good of the country. In fact, need I remind everyone that Obama insisted on going to a political fundraiser in Las Vegas immediately after the Benghazi incident, instead of finding out what really happened and dealing with it.
Mr. Lincoln was the Commander-in-Chief. Obama seems not to be interested. Both served during very demanding times, but President Obama does not want to seem to face the issues of North Korea, Iran, Syria or the current Hamas attacks in Israel. He would rather enjoy his date nights with Michelle and his partying with Hollywood Celebrities.
Obama compares himself to Lincoln and the comparisons are laughable at best. Lincoln saved the country and did whatever was necessary to do that. Obama’s singular domestic policy achievement, Obamacare, is still disliked by more than 50% of the population, almost three years after its passage. Its regulations and requirements are already causing massive layoffs all over the country and it may lead to another Great Depression. Lincoln inherited a pending Civil War, fought it and won. In the meantime, he solved the problem of slavery while fighting that war and brought about a lasting peace.
Lincoln is the great leader. Obama is not. To compare the two, is a crime.