[Marxism] Obama, Lincoln and the Huffington Post

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Tue Jul 19 07:14:05 MDT 2011


Arianna Huffington v. Frederick Douglass

The president's history lesson on political compromise shows the 
degraded state of American politics and the left Video

By Joan Walsh

The White House released video of a formerly private meeting 
President Obama held with a group of college students in Boston 
last March, where he discussed the importance of political 
compromise. Some of the students were active in college Democrats 
and Republicans groups, others were independents, and the talk is 
widely being seen as emblematic of the president's conciliating 
world view – and how he disappoints the unrealistic left, and is 
proud to do so. I wouldn't pay much attention to it if it was just 
a normal four-minute daily news item, which flow on all day, every 
day. But since the White House seems to think it's politically 
useful, it's worth taking seriously.

The big headline from the president's little talk is that he 
bashed the Huffington Post – twice! First, he told the college 
Republicans in attendance that he knows they consider him a 
liberal president, while "if you read the Huffington Post, you'd 
think I was some right-wing tool of Wall Street. Both things can't 
be true." But I was much more interested in Obama's later comments 
about Abraham Lincoln and the Emancipation Proclamation, because 
he captures a complexity that's often missed by people on the left 
– but he misses some complexity, too.

Obama explained that even though Lincoln opposed slavery, his 
Emancipation Proclamation only freed the slaves in states that 
were fighting against the Union; it didn't apply to slave states 
that were Union allies. Obama's not pointing that out to call 
Lincoln a hypocrite or malign his commitment to eradicating 
slavery; he's describing it as a savvy pragmatism, a leader 
understanding the limits of his time. "Here you've got a wartime 
president who's making a compromise around probably the greatest 
moral issue that the country ever faced because he understood that 
`right now my job is to win the war and to maintain the union,'" 
Obama told the students.


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