Obama and Lincoln

Obama should point out that his experience in public office is much greater than that of his fellow Illinoisan.

A reader writes:

I too am disturbed that the “inexperienced” label is sticking to Obama. But his own campaign hasn’t done much to help. Instead, of comparing his own inexperience with the extensive experience of the likes of Rumsfeld and Cheney, neither of whom has ever run for president, wouldn’t Obama be better off making a comparison with Abraham Lincoln? Before being elected president, Lincoln had served one term in the House of Representatives and lost two races for the Senate. He never served in an executive office at the state level. Nevertheless, Lincoln became one of the greatest, if not the greatest, president in American history. I can’t imagine a better way to diffuse the concerns over experience than by pointing out that Obama is more experienced than Lincoln was.

Good point. Lincoln is also the patron saint of anti-imperialists and critics of foreign adventures; his patriotism was viciously attacked because he dared ask for evidence of the Mexican attack on U.S. troops that was the purported occasion for the Mexican-American War. The use of history in political rhetoric is a much-neglected art in this country.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com