Lincoln’s Birthday

Yesterday, I neglected the traditional Abe Lincoln birthday greeting. Of course, I don’t think he’s complaining much. Anyway, happy birthday, Abe.

In the past year, I visited his tomb for the first time, discovered that he made his last speech in Illinois in Tolono (the day before his birthday, in 1861), and that, for whatever reason, he liked to sleep with guys. Abe, we hardly knew you.

One thing I find myself wondering about in the age of George W. Bush, the Great Emancipator of Iraq, is whether Lincoln and Bush would be in the same party — either now or back in Lincoln’s day. Perhaps it’s an empty game to play, and I don’t pretend to know where Lincoln would stand on issues such as the war on terrorism or Iraq (though he didn’t hesitate to suspend rights in the midst of the nation’s emergency; so there’s some interesting evidence you might pursue).

On the other hand, it’s extraordinarily difficult to imagine Bush taking Lincoln’s path. I can much more easily imagine Bush as a defender of the South’s rights to pursue liberty the way it saw fit — for whites only — than see him as someone who would have risen to defense of the Union. It’s much easier to see him standing up for the rights of property owners — slaveowners — than recognize the human rights of their property. I think he’s the first president in my lifetime I’ve felt this way about, though he’s hardly the first president elected from the former Confederacy in our time.

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