Posts tagged Abraham Lincoln
I saw Lincoln last night. Loosely based on Doris Kearns Goodwin’s Team of Rivals, and stunningly acted and directed, I highly recommend this movie to all of our Gentle Readers, and to any other history or political junkie.
When I went into the theater, before I turned off my cell phone, the news sites I check said Republicans in the U.S. House were planning to add amendments to the Senate bill designed to avoid the “fiscal cliff”. Then I watched a riveting movie about America’s first Republican President, and his efforts to forge bipartisan deals in the U.S. House of Representatives to enact the Thirteenth Amendment, the one that bans slavery. I came out of the theater, turned on my phone, and checked the news again. House Speaker John Boehner had agreed to hold a simple and clean up-or-down vote on the Senate bill.
In both the historical event and the current event, a bill had already overwhelmingly passed the Senate, and the drama centered around getting a vote in the House. The dates are significant as well: we stand now almost 150 years to the day after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. The tense votes depicted in the movie happened two years later, in January of 1865. The parallels struck me as significant. (more…)
Immediately after the recent election, Grover Norquist famously said that Barack Obama won reëlection by portraying Mitt Romney as a “poopyhead”. This rather odd remark caused some hilarity among politics-watchers, but it did tend to shine a spotlight on the issue of political name-calling. It also led to the usual hand-wringing about the “lack of civility” and how our election campaigns have become “dirtier than they’ve ever been in history.”
Before we get into this discussion, let’s save some time by stipulating up front that we all do it to each other; right, left and center, and we always have. Name-calling and insults may have survived to the present day, but they are an old and not-so-honorable component of the fabulous sporting pursuit we know as politics. If you don’t believe me, watch this clip that recalls some of the language used by politicians back in the 1800s. (Even if you do believe me, watch it anyhow, right to the end. It’s less than two minutes long and really quite wonderful.)
Some other favorite political insults: (more…)
And Jesus knew their thoughts, and said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand.
— Matthew 12:25
It should surprise no one that there is tension among House Republicans between the leadership and the new crop of young Tea Party Turks. The Republican Party has been evolving since its inception, and is now in a period of particularly rapid change. Republicans recall their own past with some discomfort. The Party as it exists today consists of coalitions that are not a natural fit, and cohabitate out of convenience more than out of affinity. It’s only a matter of time before Republicans evolve into something very different from what we currently see, or perhaps even split into mutually antagonistic factions.
Today I will explore some of the historical tensions. I will examine some of the policy divisions in a future installment.