What Would Lincoln Do?

Historians examine how one of our most famous presidents would have faced historical challenges.

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Is there a contemporary Abraham Lincoln?

No politician can measure up to Lincoln. Lincoln would have certain goals in mind, but he was very tactical and very clever in the way in which he worked with the political realities in pursuit of those goals. He was a realist about what could be achieved and willing to reach across the aisle to talk to anyone in pursuit of his goals. I think Obama has tried to emulate that pattern. Some on the left have been dissatisfied with Obama's progress, but I think Obama is trying to take a leaf from Lincoln's book by saying we can pursue these goals better if we move at a deliberate pace.

[Check out our editorial cartoons on President Obama.]

Was the 16th president the nation's best?

Certainly, Washington was indispensable to the successful founding of this country. Without him, America could never have been established as a working republic and a democratically ruled country. However, Lincoln enabled the country to survive its greatest threat, which was disunion. If he had not succeeded in reuniting the country, there are strong doubts in my mind as to whether democracy on the American model could have survived.

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