Thursday, February 14, 2013

Smoke filled rooms occasionally lead to better world

A recent viewing of the movie  "Lincoln" engenders thoughts regarding political deals.


The greatest and most noble president in history, the film reveals, made one stinky underhanded  "arrangement" after another to ensure passage of the thirteenth amendment.


Rotten-to-the-core-inside-the-dirt-road-beltway of 1865 trading of votes to end slavery  in return for Federal jobs.


How do you react to that?



Spielberg's send up of Mr. Lincoln's

quest for votes from easily bought political hacks paints a picture of a man driven by an almost religious commitment to end one of the worst institutions  ever perpetrated upon humankind.



Lincoln was more than noble.


This explains the remark of Secretary of War Stanton when a  physician pronounced Lincoln's death.


"Now he belongs to the ages."


Of course, there was much more to Lincoln's achievements beyond the passage of the anti-slavery amendment.


How he fought to hold the nation together.


How he maintained his sanity amidst pressure beyond description.


Dead bodies of young men mounting.


A wife bordering on psychotic.


Melancholy over the death of a young son so deep that modern day psychiatrists would recommend extreme treatment.


Washington helped build this land against impossible odds.


But Lincoln preserved it when even his own friends abandoned him, facing the greatest challenge ever before a president.

Never before or since had leadership been such a lonely desperate burden.


Which brings me back to the dealmaking.


Always bad?


Is it corrupt  to hand out toll booth directorships  if the trade-off ends the trading of human flesh?


Could you look into the eyes of a black Union soldier and tell him that he fights merely to watch his family auctioned off like so much furniture after the war ends?


Lincoln couldn't.


I don't think you could either.


Let's face it folks.


This great man paid for votes with jobs and, if the cinematic story is accurate,  bribes of cash.


One time when I was mayor in Euclid I needed  council votes to approve a union contract.


Nonpassage meant severe threats to the safety of our citizens.

One holdout councilman said he would change his position if certain sidewalks in his ward were repaired.


The service director said the sidewalks in question wouldn't need repair for another two years and were not  on the projected work list that summer.


I overruled the service director.


The important legislation passed.


Was I wrong?


Are those of you who believe in Obamacare so naïve to think that the  leader of the free would didn't do a little horse trading to pass his agenda?



Here's my point.


There are times when saving the realm involves the dirty business of politics.


I'm glad Lincoln pulled out all the stops to free our brothers and sisters.


Only  a Lincoln  could make such a call.

And there are precious few Lincolns around these days.

Does this change your view of  backroom deals?

Freedom for slaves versus integrity of the process.  

Before  you throw a dart at a leader, examine the  motive and the goal.


And look for a little Lincoln.

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