Happy Presidents Day, everyone! Last week, I traveled back to Springfield, Illinois – where I got a chance to reflect a little bit on my favorite president and fellow Illinoisan – Abraham Lincoln.
As I said there, Lincoln wasn’t always the giant of history that we think of today. He didn’t have formal schooling. His businesses and his law practice often struggled. He left Congress after just one term because his opposition to the Mexican-American War damaged his reputation. But then, something happened that shook his conscience. Congress effectively overturned the Missouri Compromise, that flawed law that had prohibited slavery in the North and legalized it in the South.
Over the next six years, his arguments with Stephen Douglas and others helped shape the national debate around slavery. And it was on the steps of the Old State Capitol in Springfield where he uttered those brilliant words, that “A house divided against itself cannot stand;” and that “this government cannot endure, permanently, half slave and half free.”
Lincoln went on to become the first Republican President, and I believe our greatest president. Through his will, his words, and most of all, his character, he held a nation together and helped free a people.
Late at night, I sometimes walk down the hall to a room Lincoln used as his office that contains an original copy of the Gettysburg address. I linger on a few words that have helped define our American experiment: “A new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.” Lincoln grasped, maybe more than anyone, the burdens required to give those words meaning. And he understood that it is through the toil and sacrifice of ordinary men and women that our country is built and freedom is preserved.
…. with Safak Pavey, the first disabled woman elected to the Turkish Parliament
Read about the 2012 Women of Courage here and here
InsideHigherEd: … Roughly two-thirds of public and private college presidents say they plan to vote for President Obama in November, and only 1 in 10 believe the Republican candidates for the presidency have laid out a helpful vision for higher education.
…. 65.1 percent said that they planned to vote for the president this fall. Among sectors, support was stronger in public higher education (75 percent at public doctoral and master’s institutions, 85 percent at public baccalaureate institutions and 66 percent at community colleges). The lowest level of support was in for-profit higher education, where only 29 percent of presidents said they plan to vote for Obama this fall.
…. Only 10 percent of all college presidents believed that the Republican candidates have offered a higher education vision, but that figure is inflated by a high proportion of yes answers from for-profit higher education (44 percent). The figures are much lower for the rest of higher education – 4 percent among public doctoral institutions, 3 percent among public master’s institutions, and not a single private doctoral university president agreeing.
Steve Benen: The general trend on initial unemployment claims over the last few months has been largely encouraging, though there have been occasional setbacks. Today’s report appears to be one of them.
Though still low by recent standards, filings went up over the last week, a little more than expected: “Jobless claims in the U.S. rose to the highest level in five weeks, climbing by 8,000 to a seasonally adjusted 362,000…”
….. when these jobless claims fall below the 400,000 threshold, it’s considered evidence of an improving jobs landscape. When the number drops below 370,000, it suggests jobs are actually being created rather quickly. Though today’s report is disappointing, we’ve now been below 370,000 for five consecutive weeks, and six of the last eight weeks.
Charles Pierce: I have tried to avoid the mighty efforts of the heirs of Andrew Breitbart to make his name more of a synonym for “jackass” in death than it was when he was alive. So, instead, let’s just play a little Harvard bingo, shall we?
Barack Obama once went to the Harvard Law School. Derrick Bell once taught at the Harvard Law School.
…. In 1992, Derrick Bell thought that “none” was an insufficient number of minority faculty members at the HLS. He decided to make a little noise about it. At a rally, Barack Obama introduced him and, after doing so, hugged him….
…. This, of course, proves that Barack Obama is a lifelong coddler of, and sympathizer with, black radical revolutionaries.
Res ipse loquitur! QED! Scoreboard, bitches!
I expect a job offer from Big Something in the morning.
President Obama meets President John Evans Atta Mills of Ghana in the Oval Office, March 8
TPM: President Obama enjoys massive leads in Maine, according to a new survey from Public Policy Polling (D) …. Obama leads both former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum by the same margin in the Pine Tree State, 58 – 35. Maine has voted for a Democrat for president in the last five elections, but that doesn’t mean Dems dominate the state – Republicans currently hold the governorship, both houses of the state legislature and the two US Senate seats (Snowe and Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME)).
ThinkProgress: Questions about women and womens’ health have dominated the political debate over the past weeks, and at least one female Republican lawmaker is unhappy with her party’s record. New York Assemblyman Teresa Sayward (R), who is retiring after serving a decade in Albany, told the New York political program Capital Tonight that she does not support any of her party’s presidential candidates, because of their stances on women.
She also took an apparent shot at Republicans’ opposition to President Obama’s birth control mandate, saying, “It’s disheartening for me to see our party move away from what it was always about and that is to stay out of people’s lives, let them live their lives, don’t impose their religion on anybody else.”
Asked which Republican candidate she supports, Sayward replied: “I do not have a favorite in the presidential race, if I had to vote today, I’d vote for Obama.”
The Atlantic: The president of the United States reflects on what Abraham Lincoln means to him, and to America.
By Barack Obama
Lincoln is a president I turn to often. From time to time, I’ll walk over to the Lincoln Bedroom and reread the handwritten Gettysburg Address encased in glass, or reflect on the Emancipation Proclamation, which hangs in the Oval Office, or pull a volume of his writings from the library in search of lessons to draw.
Always thoughtful, always eloquent, Lincoln’s writings speak to me as they speak to so many Americans, reminding us what is best about ourselves and the Union he saved: that though we may have our differences, we are one people, and we are one nation, united by a common creed.
Charles Pierce: By now, everybody’s seen the America’s At Halftime commercial, featuring Clint Eastwood…. The general feeling is that the ad itself was a kind of endorsement of the president’s re-election bid, what with its emphasis on the recovery of the auto industry, which Willard Romney opposed in favor of letting the major automakers go bankrupt.
… The president can’t run on “It’s Morning In America.” He’d look foolish. He can, however, credibly run on the notion that the sky is getting a little brighter in the east. By contrast, more than a few people have noted that the Republicans in general, and Willard in particular, seem interested in running on “It’s Apocalypse In America,” gloomily drooping around the country as the people to whom they’re talking try desperately to feel optimistic again…..
‘How did the University of Virginia come to publish a version of Lincoln’s inaugural speech that cut crucial words on slavery?’
Matt Seaton (The UK Guardian): ….I was preparing for publication Eric Foner’s article on the 150th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s inauguration speech … I went searching for a transcript of the speech to link to. The results of a Google search took me to the site of the University of Virginia’s Miller Centre of Public Affairs; reckoning this a prestigious institution at a public university (founded by Thomas Jefferson, no less), I assumed this would be a reliable link to use …
Then I reached the passage quoted by Eric’s piece, where Lincoln flatly states: “One section of our country believes slavery is right, and ought to be extended, while the other believes it is wrong, and ought not to be extended. This is the only substantial dispute.”
…I searched the transcript on the Miller Centre site for this sentence but could not find it…. I sent off an email to the Miller Centre staff, alerting them to the fact that they were publishing a misleading, redacted version of Lincoln’s address; and outlining my interpretation that it looked as though the speech had been cut to remove references to slavery… I received an immediate reply; and within an hour, the webpage had been amended and the full text restored.
Since then, I’ve done a full comparison of the cached version of the page and the amended one; at the foot of this article run all the passages that had been omitted from the original…
…the sum of the redactions appeared to have two key effects: first, of toning down or removing entirely Lincoln’s strong assertions of the legitimate authority of the Union before and above the Constitution; and second, as said, of shifting the emphasis away from slavery as the key point of dispute between North and South and towards differences over the precedence and prerogative of individual states v the Union in law-making and enforcement. It is difficult not to see a neo-Confederate agenda in this editing.
It is possible that the erroneous version of Lincoln’s address was published by accident or carelessness. But the alacrity with which a correction was made suggests that Miller Centre executives realised the potential damage to the institution’s reputation of hosting what might appear to be a politically tendentious, “doctored” version of the address.
Having had a polite note from them, thanking me for pointing out the error and confirming the correction, I wrote back saying I was considering writing about it and seeking their comment on several questions (see the questions here)
In contrast to the almost instantaneous earlier response, as yet, I have received no reply to these questions. So the Miller Centre would seem to wish to make no further comment. But given that its online database of the Scripps Library purports to be a vital resource for scholars of public policy, US government and presidential history, I certainly hope they are running some checks.