Thursday, October 03, 2013

The Civil War, a distant mirror for Obama

Here's Obama speaking to* John Harwood of CNBC yesterday about what's at stake in the looming debt ceiling battle:
The fight that we're having right now is not about the healthcare law, it's not about a particular budget— what it has to do with is do we continue with that process where we have elections, the majorities are determined, there's some protections for minorities in the system, but ultimately, you know, we are able to strike compromises and then move forward. And if we can't do that— this country's too diverse, it's too big— you know, what you'll end up seeing is more and more the polarization that you talked about, that's not healthy for our politics. 

That is, debt ceiling terrorism must be tamed so that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from...this country. It does now exist to some varying extents in other parts of the earth as well as (or better than) here, so let's alter Lincoln's formula accordingly.

A couple of days ago, I noted that Obama was channeling Lincoln a bit while categorizing his political opponents' values:

I don't think he's ever so squarely accused [the Republicans] of moral bankruptcy as this:
I know it’s strange that one party would make keeping people uninsured the centerpiece of their agenda, but that apparently is what it is.
That is Lincoln, with only a glimmer of the judge-not caveat ("apparently")...
It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God's assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men's faces, but let us judge not, that we be not judged. 
The Tea Party's attempt to nullify -- and rhetorically criminalize -- laws duly enacted, and the results of the last election, is, as many have noted,  a faint echo of the South's depraved moral fervor in the runup to the Civil War. Obama's rhetoric just now reflects that.

* Whoever transcribed this interview inserted dashes, apparently, at every Obama pause. That's distracting, annoying, and I think needlessly denigrating.  Speech isn't writing. What sounds natural in speech calls needless attention to itself in writing.

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