Tuesday, December 23, 2008


Barack Obama has evoked Abraham Lincoln ever since launching his campaign at the Old State Capitol in Springfield, Ill. Now he plans to arrive in Washington the same way that Lincoln did in 1861, with a train trip that will include stops, speeches and crowds along the way.
On Jan. 17, Obama and his family will start the day with an appearance in Philadelphia, where they will board a chartered Amtrak train. The train will stop in Wilmington, Del., where the Obamas will be joined by Vice President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. Then comes a stop in Baltimore before the group's arrival that evening in Washington.
"He's replicating the last leg of Lincoln's inaugural journey to Washington," said historian Harold Holzer, the preeminent Lincoln historian and biographer, "This guy's reverence for Lincoln has no bounds."
And that is understandable, Lincoln being a fellow citizen of Illinois, it is very understandable. But while Obama is many things, including a ground breaker in the world of Presidential politics, his obsession with comparing himself to Abraham Lincoln is starting to rub some Presidential historians the wrong way.
They say Obama's ego is out of control when it comes to his constant comparisons of himself to Lincoln and they point to the President-elect's brazen attempts to overemphasize his place in history. Lincoln, they point out, was known for his humility. Obama, they add, is known more for his lack of it.

And, now the announcement that Barack Obama intends to be the first President elect to ever use the Lincoln Bible, other than Lincoln himself of course, in 1861. Which means yet another fact to compare the two, since Obama will be taking the oath on the Bible used by the great emancipator, and he's the first African-American president. Both men are from Illinois. And both faced some controversy over their limited time in elected office. Lincoln served only a single term in the House of Representatives and was very much an unknown quantity to the eastern establishment in 1861 and seemed like an unlikely candidate to save the union.

This is not what is troubling me. Not the comparisons, the oft used Lincoln quotations, none of it. What is bothering me is Obama's transformation away from what I thought he was. His state and defense departments are headed by officials much more hawkish than Obama himself. He is running to the center, as he nears the center stage. And in doing so, he is neglecting some of the people who got him there.

In choosing Pastor Rick Warren to give the invocation at his swearing-in ceremony, he chose a biblical scholar of much note and national regard (and a respected member of the clergy among all groups). But in doing so, he has also chosen a man who has compared abortion to the holocaust, and gay marriage to incest and pedophilia. This choice spat in the eye of those gays who helped put him in his current position. Not a great start.

And now the recreation of the path of Lincoln, and the very Bible he swore into the office with. Good choices, but the man ain't exactly representing. Of course, re-walking Dr. King's march to Selma is out of the question, but how about using his Bible? How about doing something, anything to celebrate the momentous occasion of a black man finally coming to power in a country with a dubious racial history, and powerful hateful undertones which still remain, to say the very least.

It just seems to me that in his many choices since winning the election, he is a man running away from who he is, and what he represents to this nation, regardless of color or creed. I know, it is just a bible, and it is just an opening prayer. But it IS more than that, and we know it. It just strikes me as odd, strikes me as awfully strange choices for a man who scolded us on his political pulpit with his "Just Words" speech. Sometimes words are more than just words, and a Bible is more than the word of God, this time, it would represent the hope and dreams of a nation.

And that is the world..."The World According to Kimba." As always, thanks for reading.

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