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jlongstreet said in November 21st, 2008 at 3:39 pm

So far Obama’s choices have been far from the serious “Team of Rivals” that many predicted twoweeks ago!

lymanb said in January 20th, 2009 at 8:30 pm

The plethora of Lincoln analogies, ranging from the “Team of Rivals” to the Inaugural Train, are interesting considering the message of change upon which Obama campaigned. While Lincoln’s administration brought great changes to the country, he was trying to preserve the Union and was willing to make great concessions in order to achieve that goal. Change was Obama’s campaign slogan from the get-go.

fitzgerald said in January 21st, 2009 at 2:58 pm

It is impossible to escape the analogies to Lincoln no matter who the politician happens to be. Today, as in the past, the legend of Lincoln is used to gain votes and conquer political ground by using a face that no one can effectively challenge. Debate may arise about whether or not the Lincoln analogy is appropriate, but that does not change the fact that once it has been used it almost always sticks. In the case of Obama, as with most politicians, Lincoln analogies do not have a place as the era in which Lincoln lived and the circumstances in which he was placed are completely different then today.

gillespd said in January 21st, 2009 at 4:25 pm

As has been seen in many past presidential elections, Abraham Lincoln has often been invoked to harken back to the glory days of the ambiguous, giant of a man. While campaigning, Obama used references to Lincoln, including the idea of creating a “Team of Rivals”for his cabinet. Yet, during his Inaugural address, Obama failed to mention Lincoln, but beckoned further back to the Founding Fathers, and quoted George Washington. The use of varying historical analogies by Obama sets a high bar for himself to be one of the “great” presidents without drawing a single analogy. This, in turn, would alleviate Obama of the responsibility of living up to one man, but shifts it to an ambiguity of former greatness.

Gina said in January 21st, 2009 at 4:49 pm

The idea of having a “Team of Rivals” might have seemed appropriate to Obama due to the economic crisis and ongoing war that America faces. Perhaps under these circumstances the group might prove successful now than with Lincoln due to the global perspective and ethical values that drastically changed since Lincoln’s presidency. The idea of unity and collaboration by citizen of the world is what might allow individuals, parties and political “rivals” to work together in order to create change. Although it seems uncertain, the manner in which Obama claims to runs his presidency is by change, and perhaps this might be a way in doing so.

Andrew H. said in January 21st, 2009 at 7:23 pm

In general, historical analogies tend to distort the past. David Donald, for example, clearly illustrates in his article “Getting Right With Lincoln” that politicians from all political parties have taken the words and actions of President Lincoln out of context to justify their own agendas, thus proving that no party’s ideals are truly in tune with Lincoln’s. By evoking the spirit of Lincoln so often Obama is doing nothing new, and he will most likely continue to manipulate the past to in order to justify his actions.

Elizabeth G said in January 21st, 2009 at 7:49 pm

Although this might be a repetition of what others have said (particularly Gina), there is the saying “keep your friends close and your enemies closer.” it would be hard for your greatest critics to criticize you if they have a hand in making the policies. Additionally, By building a so-called team of rivals, Barak Obama hopefully will be bringing a sense of civility back to Washington. However, it is unclear if he is building his cabinet this way to emulate Abraham Lincoln or if he is just playing smart politics.

I do have to wonder, however, how correct the historical analogy between Lincoln and Obama is. Yes, both are from the state of Illinois, both had relatively little experience in federal government before taking office, and both are extremely gifted orators. However, it is my understanding that when Lincoln came to office he wanted to keep the Union intact, to keep the status quo. Obama ran on a platform of change.

obriens said in January 22nd, 2009 at 1:50 pm

The analogies used by Obama and other politicians to compare themselves to great American presidents such as Lincoln and Washington are far to general to take seriously. The period of Lincoln’s presidency, for example, was wrought with divisiveness due to the issue of slavery and the Civil War. However, today’s issues are far less dire and analogies made to Lincoln are just and attempt to garner votes and support. Nevertheless, some people may not understand the oversimplification of these analogies, which could possibly lead to a movement of Americans accepting candidates such as Obama as the second coming of Lincoln. The analogies are farfetched and unrealistic, and they also make history seem like it is cyclical. This can be damaging to peoples understanding of history.

Cabinets said in June 5th, 2009 at 6:33 pm

i think Obama is following the right path, that his methods have so far proven to work, those are the same methods used by great ancient politicians to bring their enemies to their sides, many people thought that the way Obama was preaching his bipartisanship was not going to work, well it is working.

beauregard said in July 6th, 2009 at 1:25 pm

The parallels with Lincoln and Obama are overblown. However of more interest to me is the degree to how dysfunctional Lincoln’s team of rivals was.
Given the divisions present in the country in the 1860s, I doubt any group of cabinet members would have been harmonious. The fact that Lincoln was able to manage them as well as he did speaks volumes about his leadership during a time of crisis. I tend to give enormous credit to Lincoln for his steady hand in guiding a boat full of fighting ship mates through a stormy sea.

Bicycles said in July 23rd, 2009 at 12:47 pm

Cabinet making in any administration is the key to this administration success. For example Obama’s struggle right now to pass bills about health care, immigration and all of the major issues can only be resolve if he has put the right people in the right place who will work with him and enforce those soon to be laws with him.

So Cabinet making is very crucial, I am sure Lincoln was aware of that and did his best to put the right people in place in his organization.

Nicky Jameson said in December 17th, 2009 at 7:14 am

One year on and mixed success perhaps? In hindsight, Obama’s cabinet picks seem to have largely worked – foreign policy is (arguably) on a more steady footing, the healthcare reform bill is progressing well and the economy seems to be recovering quicker than most imagined. However, whether this is due to a deliberate Lincolnesque “team of rivals” approach or good realpolitik is open for interpretation (or perhaps the 2 are the same thing!?). A very interesting article and some pertinent points made in the comments.

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