To continue with the "wisdom of Abe" theme begun in my last column, Lincoln’s blend of hard-nosed politics and idealism comes out two to one in favor of idealism when he finishes his "fool the voters" construct with "but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time." We tend to forget that Lincoln, when he wasn’t busy saving the Union and freeing slaves, was a classic 21st century Republican and the people he perceived as fooling the voters were the Democrats. He favored big business, internal improvements, little regulation and programs that encouraged individuals to succeed or fail on their own merits. His "Honest" nickname came about because he was open and honest with the people he governed. Unlike the present occupant of the White House, Lincoln’s campaign promises were carried out. More importantly, Lincoln respected the people and never condescended to them. When he debated he relied on ideas and issues, not on attempts to demean and mock his opponents.
This is not the case with the administration we have in Washington today. What we have now is a president who doesn’t seem to like America or most Americans. To his credit, he never hid his disdain for those who disagreed with him. His first contemptuous statement regarding dissent came during the 2008 campaign when he stated that those who did not support him were out in rural areas "clinging to their guns and their religions." Obviously these ignorant souls were not to be favorably compared to the enlightened people who supported him. Meanwhile the preacher he identified as his spiritual mentor is mostly famous for asking God to "Damn America."
The rest follows in order. Promises were made, then ignored. Instead of the most open and transparent administration ever, we have the I.R.S. actively harassing political groups who oppose the Democrats. Instead of a politics of inclusion, we have "identity politics" in which there are "wars on women," the poor vs. the one percent, economic growth vs. destruction of the environment, and so on. The restoration of our economy to pre-Bush levels is, so far, a fantasy. Our low unemployment rate is mostly because people have dropped out of the work force. The number of persons depending on food stamps and welfare has increased dramatically. Anyone who sees a problem here is called a racist or a fool. It doesn’t seem to matter that the majority of persons needing assistance are not members of any racial minority.
The racial harmony we all hoped would come from Obama’s election has become a mockery, constantly undermined by Democrats and administration supporters. When an intelligent, well spoken, successful black man becomes a Democrat Senator from New Jersey, he is applauded. When an intelligent, well spoken, successful black man becomes a Republican Senator from South Carolina, he is called "Uncle Tom." When the Supreme Court decided that, after 45 years, nine states no longer need special federal protection for minority voters, the ruling was derided as being a call to return to the days of Jim Crow. This was an insult to the abilities and political skills of the minorities they claimed to respect.
Finally, the President, a Nobel Prize winner, law professor and alleged intellectual, either doesn’t know much about what his government is doing or he is lying to us. Either he or his spokesmen almost always deny knowledge of any of the controversial events that have become scandals. "Fast and Furious?" First heard of this in the news. "Benghazi talking points?" Only learned of these from T.V. later. "I.R.S. chicanery?" read about it in the paper. Veterans dying because the Veterans Administration is too busy playing C.Y.A. to keep their stats up? News to me when I read about it.
How stupid do they think we all are? Obviously, very, very stupid. Perhaps Forrest Gump will turn up on the next new five dollar bills instead of old Abe.
Weiland Ross is a Banner columnist.