Sunday, February 18, 2007

What would Lincoln have really said?

During the US congressional debate to pass a non-binding resolution against supporting Bush's escalation in Iraq, representative after representative got up and quoted dead presidents. For example, Alaska congressman Doug Young quoted Lincoln as having said this:
congressmen who willfully take actions that damage morale and undermine the military, are sabatuers who should be exiled or hanged.
Oh. Oops! It appears Lincoln didn't actually say that at all. It's a misquote from this guy, who is very much alive and has never been president. The trouble is, this particular quote has been attributed, by Republicans, to Lincoln, about 18,000 times. It's been a staple line of the right-wing war hawks for some time now, used as a means to quash opposition to anything Bush does regarding whatever action he takes.

Well, Queequeg the Harpooner started turning over some rocks and found something representative Abraham Lincoln did say on the floor of the US House of Representatives 12 January, 1848. He was taking to task one James Polk, eleventh president of the United States for having gotten the US into a "dishonest war":
As to the mode of terminating the war, and securing peace, the President is equally wandering and indefinite. First, it is to be done by a more vigorous prosecution of the war in the vital parts of the enemy's country; and, after apparently talking himself tired on this point, the President drops down into a half despairing tone, and tells us that "with a people distracted and divided by contending factions, and a government subject to constant changes, by successive revolutions, the continued success of our arms may fail to secure a satisfactory peace." Then he suggests the propriety of wheedling the Mexican people to desert the counsels of their own leaders, and trusting in our protection to set up a government from which we can secure a satisfactory peace; telling us that "this may become the only mode of obtaining such a peace." But soon he falls into doubt of this too; and then drops back on to the already half abandoned ground of "more vigorous prosecution." All this shows that the President is, in no wise, satisfied with his own positions. … His mind, tasked beyond its power, is running hither and thither, like some tortured creature on a burning surface, finding no position on which it can settle down and be at ease. Again, it is a singular omission in this message that it nowhere intimates when the President expects the the war to terminate. … As I have before said, he knows not where he is. He is a bewildered, confounded, and miserably perplexed man. God grant he may be able to show there is not something about his conscience more painful than all his mental perplexity!
He's dead. But the quote is real and the entire speech is right here. Today, Abraham Lincoln, if he gave the same speech in regards to the actions of George Bush would be labeled:
A) A surrender monkey;
B) Someone who is emboldening the enemy;
C) A traitor;
D) A dirty hippy who shares his skybox with Michael Moore.

Oooo HOT: Lindsay has more!

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