Here is my cartoon for my weekly feature for the newspaper trade magazine Editor & Publisher.
Let me just clear the air and get this out there: Obama is NOT Abraham Lincoln!
Aside from both hailing from Illinois, the two have very little in common. Not even their political parties.
Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Leonard Pitts called out editorial cartoonists and members of the media on their almost knee-jerk reaction to have Lincoln crying, fist-bumping or celebrating Obama's election as our 44th President.
"Actually, Lincoln likely would have been appalled," Pitts said in a recent column, going on to provide an 1858 quote by our 16th President in which he said "there is a physical difference between the white and black races, which ... will forever forbid the two races living together upon terms of social and political equality."
Obama is also to blame for the media' insistent pandering to every comparison Lincoln. After all, every chance he gets, Obama seems prepared to make a direct comparison between himself and the "Savior of the Union."
Take for instance:
- Obama's started his path to the White House by announcing his candidacy on the steps of the statehouse in Springfield, Ill., where Lincoln launched his own career.
- He recently retraced Lincoln's path to his inauguration in 1861 by traveling by train from Philadelphia to Washington.
- Obama used Lincoln's Bible to take his oath of office (the first time).
- Obama's inaugural luncheon's menu was an homage to Lincoln's favorite foods, and even the china set was a replica of the one owned by Mary Todd Lincoln.
I can understand why politically Obama would want to align himself to Lincoln. Seemingly the last honest politician to come out of Illinois, Lincoln is also a convenient political symbol because Americans of all backgrounds can find something to admire in him.
"He's a hero with a thousand heroisms," Sean Wilentz, a scholar in American history at Princeton, told Politico.com. Wilentz suggested that Obama was intentionally "blending his own image with the only president (apart from Washington, who lacks lovability) who has attained sainthood."
This way, according to Wilentz, Obama "keeps flexible yet gets canonized before he's even sworn in. An amazing political feat."
Later in his column, Leonard Pitts again quoted Abraham Lincoln, saying he held to his beliefs "even when common sense, casualty reports and political reality demanded otherwise."
So are we equally as prepared to call George W. Bush Lincoln-like too?