Obama, Jefferson, and the Inaugural Address

Appropos of Mark’s wonderment at Obama’s seeming ability to rise above pettiness, I think it is best to hope that he pulls a Jefferson.

You know; Thomas Jefferson. The man who, after the bitter and brutal campaign of 1800, could say this:

Every difference of opinion is not a difference of principle. We have called by different names brethren of the same principle. We are all Republicans — We are all Federalists.

Very nice. And Jefferson also said that “the greatest good that we can do our country is to heal its party divisions & make them one people.”

But Jefferson as always had his eye on the main chance. After all, the Campaign of 1800 was bitter and brutal in no small part due to Jefferson’s political supporters. Only a few months after penning the noble words of his First Inaugural, he told his Attorney General, Levi Lincoln, what he really had in mind:

I shall . . . by the establishment of republican principles . . . .sink federalism into an abyss from which there shall be no resurrection for it.