Tags: obama | lincoln

Obama Seeks to Rewrite History

Monday, 19 Jan 2009 02:44 PM

By Lowell Ponte

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President-elect Barack Obama likes to think of himself as audacious, an ambiguous word that means daring and bold but also reckless and shameless.

In this week of his inauguration, Mr. Obama, author of the manifesto “The Audacity of Hope,” is attempting an audacious theft, a brazen, Orwellian rewriting of history.

Barack Obama is stealing Abraham Lincoln, America's first Republican president, and trying to turn the Great Emancipator on this 200th anniversary of his birth into the property of the Democratic Party.

Republicans should take this as an opportunity to reconsider their own party's past and future.

Obama's Lincoln-snatching is dishonest legerdemain. The Democratic Party historically is the party of the slave-owners, not the Abolitionists. It is, historically, the party of the Ku Klux Klan, Jim Crow, and Bull Connor.

Southern states remained segregated into the 1960s, segregated so long as they were Democratic one-party states. Segregation ended only after Southerners freed themselves from Democratic shackles.

Today's Democratic Party continues to play divide-and-conquer racist “identity” politics, feeding Americans the old poison that they should see themselves not as individuals but as aggrieved members of scientifically-phony racial groups.

But this week Barack Obama of Illinois, the "Land of Lincoln," is identifying himself with Honest Abe and trying to turn Mr. Lincoln into a de facto Democrat.

Obama plans to take the oath of office with his left hand (Obama being a southpaw, like John McCain) on Abraham Lincoln's own Bible.

Inaugural VIP guests will dine on a replica of Lincoln's White House china.

Sunday's launch of inaugural festivities — whose television rights were sold for millions exclusively to HBO to benefit this costliest inaugural in history in a time of national austerity — was at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.

Obama tells reporters incessantly how Lincoln inspires his hopes, ideals, and policies. None ask him why, if he loves this Republican president so much, Mr. Obama never became a Republican.

As Christopher Hitchens explains in the Jan. 19 issue of Newsweek, the American left has its own history of positively idolizing Lincoln.

“The cream of American Communism named its fighting force in the Spanish Civil War the Abraham Lincoln Battalion,” recounts Hitchens, “and there used to be 'Lincoln-Lenin' parades in New York in the 1930s.” Karl Marx himself praised Lincoln and cheered Lincoln's 1864 re-election.

Lincoln, lest we forget, swept away the states rights of the Constitution's framers with a powerful central government from Washington, D.C. As Hitchens rightly notes, prior to Lincoln people said, “the United States are” but thereafter said “the United States is.”

As President Lincoln suspended the writ of habeus corpus, closed opposition newspapers, and jailed lawmakers and journalists who questioned his power.

Did Lincoln launch a war to end slavery? No.

“He said himself,” writes Hitchens, “that if he could have preserved the Union without freeing a single slave, he would have done so.”

Left-wing Lincoln and his “Progressive” Republicans opposed Southern states leaving the Union because those rich cotton-growing states paid 80 percent of federal taxes. The government in Washington, D.C., as well as the northern shipowners granted a trade monopoly by the federal government, reaped windfall profits from slavery in the South.

Did the War Between the States — note that calling it a “Civil War” means the Confederate states never actually seceded, although Lincoln acted as if they had whenever this increased his power — free the slaves?

Lincoln's first Emancipation Proclamation freed only those slaves “in the territories in rebellion,” i.e., in states where Lincoln's army did not rule. Those who owned slaves in non-Confederate states such as Kentucky and Maryland could continue to be slave-owners. Lincoln, in other words, issued his first Proclamation to give moral legitimacy to his increasingly-unpopular war — and to encourage slave rebellion in the South.

England and France ended the evil of slavery in their colonies without huge bloody wars. Both governments in effect used eminent domain power to buy slaves and emancipate them. Why, instead of imitating these peaceful successes, did Mr. Lincoln launch a war that killed 620,000 Americans — more than have died in all of America's other wars combined?

Abraham Lincoln imposed the first military conscription in U.S. history, resting on the collectivist doctrine that we are all the disposable property of the government. Lincoln imposed the first income tax, giving government essentially unlimited power to expropriate the fruits of a citizen's labor.

American politics has always been pulled by two opposing ideas. One is big government, as embodied by Lincoln, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and Barack Obama. The other is small, decentralized government, as embodied by Thomas Jefferson, Barry Goldwater, and Ronald Reagan.

Democrats were once the party of small government and Thomas Jefferson, founder of the Democratic-Republican Party, but today they have become the party of ever-bigger government.

If Jefferson returned today, he would not support the Democratic Party.

Republicans need to decide if they are the party of Reagan and Goldwater. If so, then the GOP ought to give Lincoln to the Democrats.

And because Democrats cannot credibly embrace both the big government Lincoln and libertarian small-government Jefferson, the GOP should expropriate Thomas Jefferson as its new Republican Founding Father.

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