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Monday, October 24, 2005

Another book about Lincoln

Another day, another book about Abraham LIncoln. Team of Rivals : The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin goes on sale tomorrow. She spent ten years writing and researching the book. From the Amazon review:

Goodwin makes the case for Lincoln's political genius by examining his relationships with three men he selected for his cabinet, all of whom were opponents for the Republican nomination in 1860: William H. Seward, Salmon P. Chase, and Edward Bates. These men, all accomplished, nationally known, and presidential, originally disdained Lincoln for his backwoods upbringing and lack of experience, and were shocked and humiliated at losing to this relatively obscure Illinois lawyer. [...] Had he not possessed the wisdom and confidence to select and work with the best people, she argues, he could not have led the nation through one of its darkest periods.

There's a lesson there. While our current president has conducted so much of the business of selecting people to run his administration in the opposite fashion, perhaps future presidents can and will take note of Lincoln's willingness to go outside his circle of cronies to pick leaders based on their qualifications and abilities. Ya think.

Posted by Marie at October 24, 2005 9:41 PM


It's hard to imagine, isn't it? Lincoln had a huge problem with these guys -- they all seemed to support him only to the extent they believed they'd be able to control him. Lincoln not only had the wisdom to co-opt his rivals by inviting them to join him in the task of leading the country (thus largely neutralizing them) but he had the genius to devise this risky strategy and the courage to attempt it.

Wisdom. Genius. Courage. No, that's not the Bush White House (or most others, to tell the truth; but the utter lack of character in the present Executive Mansion tenant is striking).

Posted by: Dan at October 25, 2005 2:32 AM

Lincoln was an exceptional president. And the one thing we know about exceptional presidents is that they're the exceptions. I'm not holding my breath.

(I really liked "No Ordinary Time" and have already ordered Goodwin's new book from Amazon. Probably should have waited for the reviews.)

Posted by: Kem White at October 25, 2005 12:19 PM

It's not a matter of holding our breath for another Lincoln. It's just that we'll pay and pay and pay for the exceptionally bad leadership we're getting now.

Posted by: Dan at October 25, 2005 1:08 PM