This week the President marked the 150th anniversary of a predecessor’s words as the nation was falling into civil war. What Abraham Lincoln said then could well be a model for Barack Obama at his own second inaugural if and when he is reelected in a time of turmoil and division.
In praising the Great Emancipator for charting “a course to transcend our discord and bind the wounds of a severed country,” Obama cited Lincoln’s “unceasing belief and our enduring faith that we remain one Nation and one people, sharing a bond as Americans that will never break.”
That bond is now being stretched thin as social hatreds and jealousies fuel bitter debates not only about the role of government and its size but the patriotism of those who disagree about budget deficits, public employees and their unions and every other issue that should be amenable to compromise and conciliation.
“We are not enemies, but friends,” Lincoln said as he took the presidential oath. “We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield, and patriot grave, to every living heart and hearthstone, all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”
These days the “better angels” are in hiding…