Mr. Lincoln and the Fall

The weather having turned, September now gone and October flying by, my thoughts have turned to Mr. Lincoln. He was the greatest of our Presidents.

“You know there is a movie coming out about Mr. Lincoln,” a friend informed me a few days ago.

I hit the calendar feature on my iphone to show him I have November 16, 2012, Lincoln Movie on my November calendar. Daniel Day Lewis stars as Lincoln. This promises to be great fun.

Meanwhile, I am watching the 2012 election play out before me. Neither gentleman seems Lincolnian, though both have appealed to him at one time or another. This is pro forma, like when Mike Dukakis got desperate during his run against Bush I and referred to himself as a Liberal, a Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, John Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson kind of Liberal. Americans were not moved to vote for him, apparently not believing the Massachusetts governor was the kind of Liberal they liked, regardless of how many dead presidents he invoked.

While I wait for the Lincoln movie, I content myself with reading about him and his times. My autumn reading list, not to be confused with the summer list I gave you on my late, unlamented aintsobad site, includes the book April, 1865 and a rereading of the book of Historical Ethics, Lincoln’s Virtues by the historian and genius, William Lee Miller.

I have three other Lincoln books to get to this quarter and will share their titles as I get to them. I intend to digest all five  before New Year but I am savoring the two I mentioned just now, peering over my 1.25 readers to take in the debate pre-lims (not exactly Lincoln-Douglas, I will warrant you). Mr. Romney is doing some better. His 47% remark will only hurt him with the 47% who will not like him anyway.

I still feel the 2012 US Presidential election will be decided by the group going to the polls. Latin-Americans and young Americans seem underwhelmed by the voting opportunity. If they are under represented at the polls, by their own choice, or if African-Americans decide the novelty has worn off and stay home, the GOP ticket will win. We may see the shortest “coat-tails” of modern history but the top of the ticket will probably be GOP this year.

There is no “surge” coming. The winner will be the fellow who gets the exceptional voters to come out for him. By exceptional, I mean the persons who do not usually exercise the franchise. The 2008 election was such a time but it is not likely to be repeated.

“The race is not always to the swift, nor the contest to the strong,” they used to say. “But that is always the way to bet.”

2008 was an anomaly, until it is not. If the exceptional voter turns out in 2012, we can start to call it a trend and look to 2016 to see if there is anything left in this country and if the trend continues. Three presidential election cycles presage a tectonic shift. We have not seen such a shift as yet, and so cannot predict it.

“May you live in interesting times,” the Chinese proverb says.

This particular proverb, I am told, is intended as a curse.

Mr. Lincoln would have known what to do.


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