Time's Rx: More Politics, More Politicians, More Lincoln Worship

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by Thomas J. DiLorenzo

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"Lincoln as political strategist is front and center in Steven Spielberg's new film. He trades votes, dangles patronage, hedges principles and tiptoes on the brink of deceit. He pleads, cajoles and threatens."

~ David Von Drehle, "Lincoln to the Rescue: What the Master Politician of 1862 Can Teach the Presidential Hopefuls of 2012" (Time magazine, Nov. 5, 2012)

"Lincoln was a master politician, which means that he was a consummate conniver, manipulator, and liar."

~ Murray N. Rothbard, "Two Just Wars: 1776 and 1861"

Steven Spielberg must have grown a Pinocchio-sized nose when he announced recently that his forthcoming movie about Lincoln, based on the book Team of Rivals by the confessed plagiarist Doris Kearns-Goodwin, was not a political movie since it will be released after the election (See my LewRockwell.com review of Goodwin's book entitled "A Plagiarist's Contribution to Lincoln Idolatry"). Time magazine let the cat out of Spielberg's bag in its November 5 issue, which is a glowing tribute to politics, politicians, big government, and most of all, to the legend of Abraham Lincoln.

A picture of actor Daniel Day-Lewis portraying Lincoln is on the cover with the headline, "What Would Lincoln Do?" The issue includes a long-winded essay by Lincoln historian/cultist David Von Dehle; a "viewers guide" by the dishonest Doris Kearns Goodwin; and a story of "How Daniel Day-Lewis Became Lincoln."

The purpose of the Lincoln legend has always been to assert that our "salvation" lies in politics, not in God. Lincoln is our secular "god," and our rulers will never let us forget it. That is why the U.S. government has spent millions over the past several years on the publication of dozens of books, conferences, movies, documentaries, plays, etc. to commemorate Abe's 200th birthday (That was 2009 and the "celebration" is still going strong). That is the purpose of the upcoming Spielberg movie and its celebration in Time and elsewhere.

Truth and Lies About Politics and Politicians

In his Time essay David Von Drehele continues the century-and-a-half long deification of Lincoln (the worst kind of blasphemy) by celebrating what a lying, conniving, politician he was. He approvingly quotes Lincoln's law partner, William Herndon, as having said that Lincoln was the "mostly secretive man that ever existed." One wonders why he had to be so "secretive" if what he was doing was in "the public interest," as we are constantly told.

Lincoln was first and foremost a sleazy, small-minded, patronage politician from Illinois. As Drehle writes, he always paid "small-minded attention to politics" and "spent dozens of hours each week painstakingly distributing the rapidly growing number of federal jobs at his disposal." Even when the Confederates were racking up battlefield victory after victory, and threatening to capture Washington, D.C., Lincoln "nevertheless devoted huge blocks of time to selecting tax collectors authorized by the first internal-revenue act."

He did all of this, says Drehle, to gain support for "holding the union together." Wrong, Mr. Drehle. He did this to destroy the voluntary union of the founding fathers and replace it with an imperialistic empire. The idea of a voluntary union is apparently one of those "principles" that Drehle is so happy that Lincoln "hedged" on. He threatened war over tariff tax collection in his first inaugural address, and then followed through with his threat after duping the Confederates into firing the first shot at Fort Sumter (where no one was harmed, let alone killed, save one horse).

Lincoln is also worshipped in Time for having "hedged principles" and "tiptoed on the brink of deceit" by committing treason by invading the Southern states (Article 3, Section 3 of the U.S. Constitution defines treason as "only levying war upon the states . . . " which of course is exactly what Lincoln did. Other hedging of principles about which we are supposed to be thrilled is his illegal suspension of Habeas Corpus, mass imprisonment of tens of thousands of Northern political critics without due process; the shutting down of hundreds of opposition newspapers; censorship of the mails; confiscation of firearms; rigging of elections; deportation of an opposition party congressman (Clement L. Vallandigham); illegally orchestrating the secession of West Virginia, the last slave state to enter the union; and worse.

Lincoln's Greatest Failure

Lincoln was indeed a master politician, as described in the quote at the top of this article by Murray Rothbard. As such, his greatest failure was that he did not use his famous political skills to do what all the rest of the world did about slavery and end it peacefully. This includes all of the Northern states as well as Great Britain, Spain, France, Denmark, Sweden, The Netherlands, and all other countries where slavery existed in the nineteenth century (See Greatest Emancipations by Jim Powell, along with Slavery in New York published by the New York Historical Society; Disowning Slavery by Joanne Pope-Melish; and the Web site, "Slavery in the North").

Instead of working diligently to end slavery peacefully in the British tradition, Lincoln's unprincipled, deceitful, threatening, and dictatorial behavior that is so heavily praised by Spielberg, Goodwin, Drehle, and Time, led to the death of more than 800,000 Americans according to brand new estimates of "Civil War" deaths, along with the maiming for life of more than twice that number. Standardizing for today's population, that would be the equivalent of more than 8 million American deaths in a four-year war.

But not to worry. As Drehle soothingly informs us, Lincoln's conniving, manipulating, and deceitful behavior is what enabled him to sign "the visionary bills that created the transcontinental railroad, the modern fiscal system, the homesteading movement, and the nation's land-grant universities." "Never has there been a moment in history when so much was all compressed into a little time, Drehle quotes one political contemporary of Lincoln's as having said. The domestic policies of the Lincoln administration were labeled The New Deal, a phrase that would be plagiarized by FDR seventy years later.

The government-subsidized transcontinental railroads were colossally inefficient and led to the biggest corruption scandal in history up to that point; and the "modern fiscal system" in the form of the National Currency Acts and Legal Tender Acts nationalized the money supply, leading to endless monetary manipulation and boom-and-bust cycles caused by subsequent generations of wily politicians like Lincoln. Most of the land given away under the Homestead Act went to large corporate supporters of the Republican Party in the mining, railroad, forestry, and other industries as historian Ludwell Johnson showed; and the land-grant acts opened the door to the effective nationalization and politicization of higher education along with the plague of political correctness. Hurrah for Lincoln!

The fact that the Republican Party was able to railroad the country into the old Whig Party mercantilist political agenda of corporate welfare, protectionist tariffs, and a nationalized monetary system gives the lie to the story told by Doris Kearns-Goodwin and Steven Spielberg that Lincoln was such an unmatched genius when it came to politics. Once the Southern Democrats left the union, thereby forfeiting any right to say anything about the extension of slavery into the Territories – THE big slavery issue of the 1860 election — the Republican Party had the ability to do whatever it wanted, regardless of Lincoln's input.

Most of the major problems with American society today, from poverty and unemployment to crime, declining standards of living, and more, are caused by the politicization of society that has been relentlessly ongoing for generations and which is celebrated and deified by leftists like Steven Spielberg and Doris Kearns-Goodwin. They keep dragging out the rotted stench of Lincoln's corpse disguised by professional actors, makeup artists, and cinematography to keep the booboisie dumb and happy and uneducated about their own history.

If America's founders were alive today, many of them would throw tomatoes at the screen upon viewing Spielberg's upcoming movie about Lincoln. Thomas Jefferson would likely throw the first "pitch" since he believed that government needed to be "bound by the chains of the Constitution," so untrustworthy were politicians and politics. In his Farewell Address George Washington reminded Americans that politicians are, as a rule, "cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men"; and Thomas Paine wrote that government was "a necessary evil," at best. This is exactly the opposite view of the infantile rantings of Time magazine and Spielberg's Lincoln movie.

Thomas J. DiLorenzo [send him mail] is professor of economics at Loyola College in Maryland and the author of The Real Lincoln; Lincoln Unmasked: What You're Not Supposed To Know about Dishonest Abe and How Capitalism Saved America. His latest book is Hamilton's Curse: How Jefferson's Archenemy Betrayed the American Revolution — And What It Means for America Today. His latest book is Organized Crime: The Unvarnished Truth About Government.

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