Abraham. Lincoln. Was. Not. Passive.

There’s a lot of nonsense in this Slate article desperately trying to argue that no, really, it’s not a bad thing that Barack Obama can’t get anything done; but somehow this particular passage is particularly egregious.

“Leading from behind” is a necessary form of presidential leadership, but now it’s mostly become an epithet. No one would make a film about Lincoln’s passivity, though that was an essential part of his nature, and political genius.

Let me establish something about Abraham Lincoln, right here, right now: it is useless to discuss his Presidency in any terms besides that of military necessity.  Everything that Abraham Lincoln did was designed to cleave to two basic objectives:

  1. Win the war in a way that would not require mass treason trials and proscription lists afterward.
  2. Do not let the Democratic party be in overall charge of #1, given that it was them that got the USA into this mess in the first place.

Everything.  And when it came to the military, Abraham Lincoln was not ‘passive.’  What he was was quietly frantic to find a genuine military professional who could be trusted to competently prosecute the war along the lines represented by #1 & #2.  It took him years, and multiple generals, to do that – and those generals invariably flunked the basic test of “take Abraham Lincoln’s objectives seriously.”  Once Ulysses S. Grant hove into view, Lincoln cheerfully handed things off to him, sure – but that wasn’t passivity.  That was good management.

Anyway.  The rest of the article is simply pap, with a whole bunch of unexamined assumptions… but that part really bugged me, sorry. Stupid Gore Vidal…

Moe Lane



7 thoughts on “Abraham. Lincoln. Was. Not. Passive.”

  1. Whatever idiot wrote that didn’t bother paying attention in history class, I think Lincoln holds the record for how many Generals he had to hire and FIRE. That cannot in any way be considered passive.

  2. A military genius? no, a good learner with his eye on the prize? yes. He was not passive in any sense of the word, to say so is to simply lie. Heck, he would go to the range and fire newfangled repeaters being hawked by Northern entrepreneurs.

    He would harangue Generals to move forward, when most of them wanted to sit tight, retreat, and call for reinforcements. No, Lincoln was as hands on as it gets. This is why Southerners in the know wanted McClellan to defeat him.

    1. and Obama is no Lincoln, hell, he is no Aaron Burr. Basically he is a jagoff.

    2. And by “go to the range” you mean he had a firing range installed next to the White House.

      1. No – according either Mr. Hay or Mr. Nicolay (I forget which, at the moment), they just went out back and fired into a big pile of scrap lumber, which was quite illegal. One time they were out shooting and Lincoln was drawing a “particularly careful bead” on his target when a lieutenant and a file of troops showed up to stop their firing…when the lieutenant got close enough to see who was doing the firing, he about-faced his men and double-quicked in the opposite direction. Lincoln didn’t notice, but was told immediately afterwards… his reaction was to chuckle and say, “Well, they missed some mighty fine shooting!”

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