David Gregory: “Is this your Lincoln moment?”
President Obama. “Well, no. Look, (a) I never compare myself to Lincoln . . .”
In perhaps his most famous skit, comedian George Carlin spoke about the “seven words you can never say on television.” For presidents, there is an eighth — a term also used by Carlin — that can also be perilous: the word “never” itself.
Not to put too fine a point on it, but the record shows that Barack Obama consciously emulates Lincoln, quotes Lincoln, misquotes Lincoln, and most definitely compares himself to Lincoln — and that he did so even before he used Lincoln’s bible to take the oath of office as the 44th president of the United States.
As they say in sportscasting, let’s go to the tape:
— “What is it about this man that can move us so profoundly? Some of it has to do with Lincoln’s humble beginnings, which often speak to our own. When I announced my candidacy for the U.S. Senate, it was hard to imagine a less likely scenario than that I would win — except, perhaps, for the one that allowed a child born in the backwoods of Kentucky with less than a year of formal education to end up as Illinois’ greatest citizen and our nation’s greatest President.” — Sen. Barack Obama, writing in Time magazine on July 4, 2005.
— “That is why, in the shadow of the Old State Capitol, where Lincoln once called on a divided house to stand together, where common hopes and common dreams still live, I stand before you today to announce my candidacy for president of the United States.” — Sen. Obama, on Feb. 10, 2007.
— “So, you know what? If Abraham Lincoln could make some compromises as part of governance, then surely we can make some compromises when it comes to handling our budget.” — Obama, on July 22, 2011.