- The Washington Times - Saturday, December 27, 2008


Reading Thomas Krannawitter’s interesting Friday Op-Ed column, “Obama as Lincoln,” adds perspective to the frivolous comparisons between President-elect Barack Obama and President Lincoln. It’s tempting to think that Abraham Lincoln moved into the White House as the icon he became. History tells a different story.

Lincoln the Illinois congressman and lawyer became Lincoln the icon because of the hard decisions he made, the words he spoke, the character he displayed and the suffering he endured between 1860 and 1865. More of his contemporaries considered him ironic than iconic. There are no shortcuts to becoming another Lincoln.

The same can be said of a Washington, a Wilberforce or a Churchill. Grand ideas and eloquence are puffery until one’s mettle is tested, the dross is burned off, and that mettle is found to be strong and wise.

Mr. Obama may become such a man, even an icon, but it is premature and disingenuous to suggest any such correspondence yet.

Icons belong to history, not the moment.

Plymouth, Mich.

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