- - Sunday, December 30, 2012

Faced with an inability to reach a deal with congressional Republicans on the “fiscal cliff,” President Obama is downplaying his own comparisons of himself to Abraham Lincoln, a president often credited with holding feuding Washington factions together.

Asked on NBC’s “Meet the Press” if the fiscal negotiations were his “Lincoln moment,” Mr. Obama replied: “Well, no. I never compare myself to Lincoln and … obviously, the magnitude of the issues are quite different from the Civil War and slavery.”

Actually, Mr. Obama deliberately has evoked comparisons with Lincoln ever since he announced his candidacy for president on Feb. 10, 2007, at the Old State Capitol in Springfield, Ill. He chose the site because it was the same place where Lincoln gave a famous speech condemning slavery and called for the Northern and Southern states to unite.

“I recognize there is a certain presumptuousness in this, a certain audacity,” Mr. Obama said at the time. 

SENATE

Chaplain asks for help from God on ‘fiscal cliff’

As lawmakers try to find a last-minute deal to avert the “fiscal cliff,” the chamber’s chaplain, the Rev. Barry C. Black, pleaded with God on Sunday to help Congress “save us from self-inflicted wounds.”

“As we gather this weekend with so much work left undone, guide our lawmakers with your wisdom,” the chaplain prayed in opening the Senate session in the early afternoon.

His words echoed those of President Obama, who three times in recent weeks has urged Congress to avoid a “self-inflicted” wound by letting all tax rates rise.

Mr. Black and his counterpart in the House, the Rev. Patrick J. Conroy, have used their opening prayers in recent days to highlight the divides that have riven Congress over the past two years and that are intensifying as the end-of-year deadlines for tax increases and spending cuts loom.

Last week, Father Conroy prayed for God’s help “as many Americans experience anxiety about their future,” and the week before he noted the “many pressures” they were facing. 

TEXAS

Former President Bush remains hospitalized

HOUSTON — Former President George H.W. Bush remains hospitalized in Houston recovering from an illness that began with a bronchitis-related cough.

There was no update on his condition Sunday, but a family spokesman said Saturday that the 88-year-old had been moved back to a regular room at Methodist Hospital. Mr. Bush had spent a week in intensive care in order to knock down a fever.

Bush spokesman Jim McGrath said Saturday that Mr. Bush continued to improve and that he and his family thanked everyone for their prayers and good wishes.

Mr. Bush was hospitalized Nov. 23 and moved to the intensive-care unit Dec. 23 after developing a fever. 

ILLINOIS

Trotter cites legal troubles in ending U.S. House run

CHICAGO — An Illinois state lawmaker who was a front-runner to replace former U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. says he’s ending his candidacy because he doesn’t want felony gun charges he faces to detract from the district’s important issues.

Donne Trotter was arrested Dec. 5 when security screeners at O’Hare International Airport found an unloaded .25-caliber Beretta handgun in his bag.

He told officers he has the gun for a job he works with a security firm and forgot it was in his bag before he went to the airport.

Mr. Trotter announced Saturday he will not seek the 2nd Congressional District seat, explaining that solving the area’s economic and other problems was too important to allow his legal “situation to detract from what needs to be front and center.”

From wire dispatches and staff reports