Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Gobsmacking Illustration

This bit of Obama's press conference put me on the floor:
[B]ecause it's a big, diverse country and people have a lot of complicated positions, it means that in order to get stuff done, we're going to compromise ... This country was founded on compromise. I couldn’t go through the front door at this country's founding. And if we were really thinking about ideal positions, we wouldn’t have a union. [emphasis mine]
It's true that compromise is necessary in politics. At the same time, if you thought very, very hard about the history of the United States, it would be difficult to come up a poorer illustration of the necessity of compromise than the existence of the union. President Lincoln's dogged stand on principle -- done amid not just the 30-second attack ads of his day but gigantic piles of bloody, mangled bodies -- has a great deal to do with the persistence of the union, not to mention Barack Obama's all-too-late equal opportunity to go through the front door.

Granted, Obama probably had in mind the union built from the tatters of the Articles of Confederation -- the compromises that gave us the present-day Constitution. Still, it is that union that Lincoln, his allies, and his successors did so much uncompromising work to preserve, protect, and justly amend.

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