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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review March 19 , 2012/ 25 Adar, 5772

The writer and the president

By David Shribman




http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | It was a meeting of a gothic genius and a political magus.

Nathaniel Hawthorne, the novelist from Salem, Mass., and Abraham Lincoln, the politician from New Salem, Ill., didn't speak to each other -- one of the great missed opportunities of history -- but Hawthorne did accompany a delegation of businessmen from a Massachusetts whip factory to a White House session with the 16th president in March 1862.

That meeting, 150 years ago this month, was nothing remarkable, one of the many sessions a chief executive customarily has with visitors to the capital, and yet it produced remarkable insights about the president. At this event, Lincoln was given what Hawthorne described as "a splendid whip," a handy tool, perhaps, to keep his cabinet of rivals together, to move his leading general to action, by year's end to overcome the opposition from the South and the skepticism from the North over his Emancipation Proclamation.

The 9 a.m. session was late in starting; the president was having breakfast. "His appetite, we were glad to think, must have been a pretty fair one," Hawthorne wrote, "for we waited about half an hour in one of his antechambers." Lincoln had a big appetite and he made a big impression, for the group soon glimpsed what Hawthorne described as "the homeliest man I ever saw, yet by no means repulsive or disagreeable."

Hawthorne set forth his observations in a broader essay on his trip to Washington and Virginia that appeared in the Atlantic Monthly. The article is included in the Library of America's newest volume on the Civil War, an anthology of contemporary accounts, speeches, diary entries and reminiscences covering 1862, the second year of the conflict. As the country observes the sesquicentennial of the war, the observations of one of the nation's greatest writers on one of the nation's greatest leaders possess unusual power. Here are some annotated excerpts:

President Lincoln is the essential representative of all Yankees, and the veritable specimen, physically, of what the world seems determined to regard as our characteristic qualities.

In this regard Lincoln seems little different from most American presidents, including the modern ones. Theodore Roosevelt personified American vigor at the turn of the last century, Woodrow Wilson stood for American idealism, Franklin Roosevelt for American determination -- and, with the New Deal, American experimentation.

Later, Harry Truman stood for American practicality in an age of ideology, John Kennedy for American sophistication at a time when American culture was thought to have come of age, Jimmy Carter for American innocence and Ronald Reagan for American optimism.

There is no describing his lengthy awkwardness, nor the uncouthness of his movement; and yet it seemed as if I had been in the habit of seeing him daily, and had shaken hands with him a thousand times in some village street; so true was he to the aspect of the pattern American, though with a certain extravagance which, possibly, I exaggerated still further by the delighted eagerness with which I took it in.

James T. Fields, the editor of the Atlantic, objected to this characterization and at his bidding Hawthorne removed it. But Lincoln's rough-hewn looks were as much a part of his political identity as Kennedy's handsome bearing and Bill Clinton's joyful openness. Lincoln was awkward and homely. He was also the greatest American political figure of his time, perhaps of all time.

A great deal of native sense; no bookish cultivation, no refinement; honest at heart, and thoroughly so, and yet, in some sort, sly -- at least endowed with a sort of tact and wisdom that are akin to craft, and would impel him, I think, to take an antagonist in flank, rather than to make a bull-run at him right in front. But, on the whole, I liked this sallow, queer, sagacious visage, with the homely human sympathies that warmed it ...

Lincoln had uncommon common sense, was wise but not pedantic, honest but crafty. The latter is often ignored. There may have been an internal dishonesty to Lincoln's emancipation plan (it covered territory over which he had no power), or to his assault on civil liberties (declaring martial law and suspending habeas corpus aren't ordinarily celebrated), but the overall package was more than a sagacious visage. It was virtuosity in action.

He is evidently a man of keen faculties, and, what is still more to the purpose, of powerful character. As to his integrity, the people have that intuition of it which is never deceived.

Make no mistake: Not everyone thought of him as Honest Abe. The rail splitter was a hair-splitter, too. He was derided by abolitionists and black leaders as too timid, by moderates as too radical, by many as being dishonest not only with the country but also with himself. Was the war to preserve the Union or to free the slaves? Did he believe blacks were equal to or inferior to whites? Should slaves be freed or returned to Africa? Often his answer to questions like this, infuriating to us even 150 years later, was: both.

But the president is teachable by events, and has now spent a year in a very arduous course of education; he has a flexible mind, capable of much expansion, and convertible towards far loftier studies and activities than those of his early life; and, if he came to Washington as a backwoods humorist, he has already transformed himself into ... a statesman ...

Presidents come to office on a wave of determination: Win the war. Withdraw from the war. Cure poverty, disease, the economy. Reach out to one group, comfort another, put a third in its place. They do a few of these things, often poorly, and then forget about the rest. Reality -- a synonym for the modern presidency -- intrudes.

"One of the things about being president," Barack Obama said last month, "is that you get better as time goes on."

There is, however, plenty of evidence to the contrary. As time went on, Woodrow Wilson's stubbornness divided the country over the League of Nations, Lyndon Johnson's demons produced the credibility gap and the Vietnam quagmire, Richard Nixon's lust for power produced Watergate, Ronald Reagan's hands-off style produced the Iran-Contra affair, Bill Clinton's lack of discipline led to impeachment.

But Mr. Obama, who in the past has harnessed the audacity of hope, has chosen the right role model. Abraham Lincoln got better as time went on. From our perspective 150 years after his encounter with Nathaniel Hawthorne, he's still getting better.



Comment by clicking here.

David Shribman, a Pulitzer Prize winner in journalism, is executive editor of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.


Previously:



03/12/12 Romney could learn from his rivals after Super Tuesday
03/05/12 The GOP race continues, and Republicans continue to grouse about their choices
02/27/12 The turnout threat: when voters vamoose
02/20/12 The Winter's Tale: Republicans are engaged in a 'problem play,' full of psychological, and real, drama
02/13/12 Which Ike to like?
02/08/12 A tale of two elections: Voters today are making their most profound choice since 1912
01/30/12 Whither the GOP establishment?
01/23/12 The Democratic coalition is breaking up
01/09/12 The verdict that wasn't
01/02/12 These are the keys to who will persist
12/19/11 Another Gingrich rebellion
12/12/11 A defining fight for the GOP
12/05/11 A distinct lack of enthusiasm
11/28/11 For GOPers, the winds are beginning to pick up, the horizon is darkening
11/21/11 Today's polarized politics . . . blame FDR and the political scientists
11/11/11The sporting life
11/07/11 Ron Paul, true believer
10/31/11 Why Cain isn't able
10/10/11 GOP starting over
10/03/11 The Forgotten War of 1812
09/26/11 The way we live now
09/19/11 The crisis this time
09/11/11 But what will it mean?
09/05/11 A horse race column: Who might win the GOP nomination and how it might unfold
08/29/11 The vacuum calls
08/22/11 Passion and politics: How Barack Obama and Mitt Romney got crowded into the same dangerous corner
08/15/11 Eleanor's little village
08/08/11 The agony of August
08/01/11 The politics of the impossible: What a country this might be if the political class served the broad interests of the majority
07/25/11 Pennant fever grips 'Burgh
07/18/11 Exemplar of an era
07/11/11 On summer
07/04/11 The soul of the party
06/27/11 What the Secretary said
06/20/11 Romney has big advantages over his rivals, but they will be coming after him
06/06/11 One question each
05/30/11 The 14-week challenge
05/23/11 Delay tactics
05/16/11 Republicans are waiting
05/09/11 Bin Laden is dead. What does it mean?
05/02/11 From nobodies to nominees
04/25/11 The founders left slavery for future generations to settle, and we still haven't fully come to terms with it
04/18/11 From audacious to cautious
04/11/11 Dreaming of space
12/12/10 The GOP takes control
12/06/10 DECEMBER 7
11/29/10 GOP presidential hopefuls already are lining up local supporters in what is now a red state
11/22/10 Burning down the House
11/15/10 Institutions of higher learning are finally beginning to teach important lifeskills
11/04/10 The war has just begun
11/01/10 Echoes of a speech 40 years ago this week still resonate today
10/25/10 50 years ago America chose between two men who were dramatically different --- and eerily similar





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