Lincoln: the larger than life role model
Posted: Jan 21, 2009 at 0314 hrs IST
Washington: He could have chosen Frederick Douglass, whose oratory he praised to his law school students. He could have evoked Martin Luther King Jr, whose dream of racial equality presaged his own election. Or Franklin D Roosevelt, who inherited an economic crisis worse than the one he will confront.
Instead, Barack Obama’s inspiration is a brooding rail of a man whose election 148 years ago triggered such scorn, ridicule and threats, he had to sneak into Washington to his own inauguration. Abraham Lincoln’s journey from the unruly frontier to the apex of power, to conquer the greatest moral challenge of his time is evidence of “a fundamental element of the American character,” Obama has said.
But allure of Lincoln emanates from what is unknown: the inner, inscrutable Lincoln, the barest of clues suggested in those old photos, the hooded eyes that convey torment, the tired, enigmatic smile. “He’s like the cliffhanger that never gets resolved,” said Lincoln biographer Allen Guelzo. “We impute to Lincoln the qualities we hop. will lead us through the wilderness. It’s called myth. It’s called legend.”