Saturday, March 16, 2013


When you look at events in the past it all seems clear. Of course Lincoln was a great president who ended slavery and kept the country together even after secession attempts. However, when events are occurring things are much different. There was strong opposition in congress for repealing slavery. (And this is a congress that doesn't include any members from the confederate states). The arguments used sound similar to arguments we hear today opposing the war in Iraq and Afghanistan or just about any other major policy movie.

Steven Spielberg's Lincoln focuses on this debate. Here we have just a few weeks in the life of the president near the end of the war. He is portrayed as a mere human. He has struggles with his wife. He has to deal with children growing up. He is fighting for what he feels is right against his own cabinet. He is willing to be pragmatic and change his tactics and policy in order to achieve the greater long term result. He is also a great storyteller who always seems to have a good story for any situation.

After watching the movie I was left wondering how things could have been different. What would have happened if Lincoln didn't free the slaves and accepted a reconciliation from the south? The war may have ended, but the doctrine of equality would not have been established. Then, perhaps Adolph Hitler's rhetoric would not seem so outlandish. Lincoln may have been that bad president who lead the US in to a useless war that achieved nothing. Hitler could have then been the great ruler who united Europe in a common nation. It seems preposterous now. Living through the events, however, it is difficult to discern how things will eventually work out and who will be vilified and who will be praised.

You also have to wonder what would happen to Lincoln today. He would be accused as a waffler, unable to stick with his views. Every little defeat in the war would have been on the news. But, he would have probably had many good quips for the evening news.

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