Saturday, October 25, 2008

An odd invocation of Lincoln

Bill Kristol, seeking to castigate Obama-endorsing Republicans, quotes Abraham Lincoln in defense of the 1840 Whig ticket, when taunted by a Democrat:
Address that argument to cowards and to knaves; with the free and the brave it will effect nothing. It may be true; if it must, let it. .  .  . The probability that we may fall in the struggle ought not to deter us from the support of a cause we believe to be just. .  .  . Let none falter, who thinks he is right, and we may succeed. But if after all, we shall fail, be it so.
Exactly what is so praiseworthy in Lincoln's Whig partisanship? And what an unworthy object that partisanship had! The candidate Lincoln supported in that election, William Henry Harrison, was just a political frontman for Henry Clay. Harrison was also a phony, posturing as a simple frontiersman when he was in fact born into the Virginia aristocracy. Harrison, who died within weeks of his inauguration, served the shortest presidential term in history.

Sound politic rhetoric ought to rest on something honest, and not be cluttered up with irrelevancies -- unless Kristol really does mean to compare today's GOP to the Whigs of 1840.

1 comment:

  1. The current GOP could be liked to the Federalists after the death of Hamilton. A slow and steady decline into obsolescence. Of course there could be a huge bloodletting after this and it's 1976 again and we are waiting for the Reagan of our time. For some reason, I think the republicans will show themselves to be feckless and as enduring as the dodo bird.