What is worse -- that a comedian has a better grasp of history than the US ambassador to the UN, or that the ambassador makes history up?
Bonehead John (I-Hate-the UN-And-Think-It-Should-Be-Abolished-And Now-Look-At-Me-I-Am-the-US-Ambassador-To-It!) Bolton made the dopey mistake of making up nonsense about Lincoln on The Daily Show. Defending Bush's penchant, no obsession, with appointing and surrounding himself with ideological Yes People, he denied that Lincoln had done the opposite. Rather than say, who cares what Lincoln did, he rewrote a bit of history in order to place Bush in the same camp as the icon. Yeah, right.
The problem with being a bonehead on TV is that the next day the video is on the web.
The problem with being wrong on TV is that the video of those who get it right can be seamlessly juxtaposed next to the dumb stuff.
Bolton messed up. On the facts and on being so dumb as to think no one would notice. Stewart easily conjured Lincoln biographer Doris Kearns Goodwin the following night to unbesmirch Lincoln. She did and all was right with the world; history happily trumped Bolton's truthiness.
When I first learned about how Lincoln had gone about appointing his cabinet and generals, I thought it was about as cool as cool can be -- not only because it was so vastly at odds with Bush's approach but because it demonstrated an all too rare ability and willingness to break bread and even work with one's presumed enemies.
Lincoln's strategic appointments created a bi-partisan force about him, particularly in the military. Carefully stitched together, the team made a less than happy coalition of contending forces. Even among his Republican appointments, more than one in his cabinet thought they would have been better and more able presidents and treated Lincoln as a rube.
One such appointee, William Seward, had the audacity to suggest -- in writing – that Lincoln was incompetent to run the country. He sent a memo to Lincoln accusing him of having no domestic or foreign policy, and suggested that Lincoln cede control of these matters to him. Worse, he said Lincoln's job, under Seward's proposed division of labor, would be to hand-out patronage jobs, which, it must be said, Lincoln did enjoy (he was from Illinois, after all, which is still very much patronage heaven).
Seward also told him to separate the issue of slavery from union, and advanced something of a wag-the-dog strategy of declaring a foreign war -- to unite the union and confederacy on a single mission. Sound familiar? Seward was Lincoln's Wolfowitz. But Lincoln ignored the memo.
Seward kept his job as Secretary of State, resigned once over a tiff concerning other appointments, took back his resignation and became one of Lincoln's greatest admirers.
Would that Bush had ignored Wolfowitz and his minions. Iraq did not exactly unite the Red and Blue states; the bitter divisions presist, even as some of the Reds are going Purple.
But Wolfowitz was rewarded by being promoted to head the World Bank, where he could ensconce his sweetie in a job by his side.
Oh, if only we had Lincoln today. I just love that guy.