The 2014 '30 Under 30'

Congrats to this year's 30 -- check out the full list here!

Lincoln’s Lesson for Obama

Steven Spielberg’s new film Lincoln has received praise from both sides of our increasingly hostile political divide. But amid stunning screenplay, brilliant acting, and surprising historical accuracy, one potentially negative feature emerges – timing.

National Journal’s Jill Lawrence aptly called the film “a lesson in realpolitik for a squeamish age.” In a Huffington Post article, film critic Marshall Fine wrote “with any luck, Barack Obama will not only see it but take it as a template for the current lame-duck session of Congress and for his impending second term.”

Lincoln focuses on the three months between the 16th President’s reelection and the passage of the 16th Amendment in the House of Representatives. In a fantastic mix of bribery and conviction, Lincoln convinces all House Republicans and a few Democrats to support the abolition of slavery.

The film does not shy away from clear instances of political payoffs. Lincoln contracts men behind closed doors to offer defeated Congressmen jobs in exchange for their votes.

Lincoln eloquently and beautifully argues that corruption may be praiseworthy to promote so noble a cause. The 16th Amendment arguably justified the Civil War and ended the evil of slavery in America.

Many issues currently divide the American electorate now as slavery did then. Conservatives highlight the perverse incentive of welfare – government rewarding lazy behavior. Liberals focus on the rich, who do not pay “their fair share.” As the “fiscal cliff” looms, both movements flex their muscles, trying to convince America that entitlement cut backs or tax increases, respectively, will fix the country’s economic quagmire.

This situation is not new. Since at least the days of Ronald Reagan – if not those of Barry Goldwater – ballooning government has taken a central focus in political debate. The final solution – which could free Americans from the shackles of an increasingly overbearing government – may mark a victory as glorious as the abolition of slavery.

Regularly compared to the 16th President, Obama has certainly attempted to “learn the lessons of history.” In an article for the Atlantic Magazine, he wrote, “Lincoln is a president I turn to often.”

“He calls on us through the ages to commit ourselves to the unfinished work he so nobly advanced – the work of perfecting our Union,” Obama said.

In the 2012 election cycle, Lincoln director Steven Spielberg donated $1,195,200 to Democratic candidates and organizations. He donated $5,000 to Barack Obama specifically and $1,100,000 to Priorities USA Action, the pro-Obama political action committee. Not ungrateful, the President hosted Spielberg, along with Dreamworks CEO Stacy Snider, Lincoln’s producer and screenwriter, and actors Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field, Gloria Reuben, and Tommy Lee Jones at the White House for an early screening of the movie on November 15.

Although Spielberg has planned this film since 1999, he cut filming to a brief two months, from October 17 to December 19, in 2011. Scheduled for early release three days after the election, the film seemed calculated to speak to Obama, in victory or defeat.

After his reelection, Lincoln maneuvered the House of Representatives to pass the 16th Amendment during the “lame duck” session of Congress – the time between the election and its subsequent inauguration. Lincoln used this transition to maximal effect, a fact the movie praises.

Even if Obama had not been reelected, the film would have urged him to use his last three months effectively. While current law prohibits bribery, Obama can use hidden, back room negotiations – as he did during the healthcare debate – to get his way.

Well-intentioned lies and shady deals may form a permanent feature in political life. Nevertheless, the ends do not justify the means, and if Obama takes this film as a mandate to work “behind the scenes,” he will have made a tremendous mistake.

 

Comments

Comments

  1. The omission of Frederick Douglas is just a
    portion of the convenient oversights in this
    film. To get the real truth about Lincoln
    and slavery you must listen to noted historian
    Lerone Bennett. http://bit.ly/VgwcLN

Polititainment

Obama channels Chris Rock

Discussing a tax loophole that businesses exploit in order to avoid paying United States taxes, the president made a distinction between that which isn't right and that which just "ain't right."

Colbert mocks Palin for Internet channel

In an attempt to mock Sarah Palin for her recently launched Internet television channel, Stephen Colbert on Tuesday's episode of "The Colbert Report" introduced his own competing web show called "Stephen Colbert's Angry Echo Chamber."

Fallon imagines President Biden
During his show Tuesday night, Jimmy Fallon took a look at the pros and  cons of a potential Joe Biden presidency. He left it to the viewers to decide, but pointed out some critical flaws to putting Biden in the Oval Office. “Pro: for Secretary of State, he’ll pick someone who is fluent in several […]
Jon Stewart ridicules John Kerry

Jon Stewart on "The Daily Show" Monday made fun of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry for his inability to negotiate a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas after a 12-hour ceasefire between the two expired.

'True Blood' star takes on Sarah Palin

Kristin Bauer van Straten, who plays vampire Pam Ravenscroft on the HBO program, hit back at the former governor of Alaska for criticizing a recent episode.

White House

New emails reveal Lois Lerner talked way too much smack about right wing on official phone

An email exchange between Lois Lerner and an unnamed individual made public Wednesday reveals that the former IRS official doesn't care too much for talk radio.

Fact check needed on Obama’s Kansas City speech, states with minimum wage increases didn’t see higher job growth
It’s time for a fact check on the president’s latest proclamation about the need for an increase to the minimum wage. President Barack Obama continued his tour across America Wednesday with a speech on the economy in Kansas City, Miss. and meals with more letter writers. Per usual, Obama brought up his attempts to bring […]
Golfer finds Obama’s golf ball in the woods, says president’s game is ‘off line’
President Barack Obama is “off line again.” Or at least his golf game appears to be. Instagram user larrydoh posted a picture of a Titleist 44 golf ball labeled “POTUS” on Saturday. He found the golf ball at the Congressional Country Club, one day after POTUS played the same course himself. “Obama played at Congressional […]
Polls: Obama White House incompetent at managing, worse than Darth Vader

The job of the administrative branch is to, well, administer the laws. According to a new Fox News poll released on Wednesday, most Americans think that the Obama administration is failing dismally at the task.

Obama wants ‘idealism and optimism’ for millennials in face of Congressional ‘crisis,’ refuses to recognize he is part of the problem
Now that “hope and change” seems to be played out, President Barack Obama has come up with a new catchphrase for millennials – “idealism and optimism.” In a speech at a Democratic National Convention fundraiser in Seattle, Wash. Tuesday night, Obama asked young people not to give up their natural idealism and optimism because of […]

Congress

DWS admits Obama is not doing his job
We never thought we would say this, but Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz just said something we actually agree with. Moments before the House vote on a lawsuit against President Barack Obama, Schultz appeared on MSNBC and admitted that Obama hasn’t been doing his job. “I’m going to go to the House floor and actually debate why […]
Cruz provides motivation to youth in speech

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) provided motivation to an audience of students from across the country Tuesday, saying that young people have been behind almost “every significant change” in human history.

Boehner calls impeachment talk a Democrat 'scam'
Politicians from both parties have been talking a lot about the “I-word” — impeachment. Although everyone from Harry Reid to Sarah Palin has mentioned impeachment, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) made it clear Tuesday that House Republicans don’t intend to impeach. “This whole talk about impeachment is coming from the president’s own staff — and coming from Democrats […]
Rand Paul and Cory Booker continue their bromance
Senators Rand Paul (R-Ky) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.) have formed a bipartisan bromance in the U.S. Senate. Now, they’ve taken it to Twitter. Both senators were honored as one of the The Hill’s 2014 50 most beautiful list, which was released Tuesday. Paul wasted no time extending congratulations to Booker via Twitter. Congrats to my […]
GOP Rep introduces marijuana medical oil bill
A Republican congressman announced a bill Monday that would legalize therapeutic hemp and a marijuana oil for medical use. The Charlotte’s Web Medical Hemp Act of 2014, introduced by Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.), would remove cannabidiol (CBD) oil and therapeutic hemp from the federal definition of marijuana. Anecdotal evidence has shown that children with severe seizure disorders […]