The wall cracks.

I’ve been so discombobulated of late I lost the thread of the Tiger Woods story. Last I checked, we were talking about an essentially nice guy who’d stepped into it by “having affairs” outside his marriage.

Yesterday afternoon I finally had a minute to hit Gawker, which sent me to Deadspin, the sports blog, where I discovered that the story is now about a sexual compulsive with a bottomless appetite for strange, whose “lover” is actually his pimp/personal assistant, netting major bucks for stocking his larder, not actually cooking the food. By the time I reached the part with the porn star, I started thinking that the precipitating incident in all this may well not have been a National Enquirer dispatch, but a closed-door session between a grim physician and Mrs. Woods, followed by a prescription for embarrassing drugs.

So yeah, I have to agree with Eric Zorn, who surmises that the reason Woods didn’t get out in front of this story is because there’s no getting in front of an avalanche of sewage, that the best — only — strategy is to take shelter under a rock, wait for it to pass and see what’s left of his image in six months.

And since I was in a sewage-y state of mind, I also foolishly followed the link Brian provided yesterday, to that Lisa Schiffren bilge in the American Thinker, which seeks to tie Woods to Barack Obama. Because why? They’re both successful and…what else do they have in common? I can’t imagine.

And because by then my nose was starting to get numb to the smell, I stupidly started reading the comments on the piece, and, well, that’s not something I can recommend. But I will remind you that Lisa Schiffren is not some fringe crank but Dan Quayle’s former speechwriter and a more or less respected member of the right-wing commentariat. If you can imagine Dee Dee Myers someday writing for the Symbionese Liberation Army newsletter, that’s the equivalent.

Ick! Let’s go for a palate cleanser, shall we? Two photo stories on hunting should do the trick. The first, from the NYT, on the Inuit of Greenland, all in black and white for those of you who are squeamish about seal blood. The other, from the Irish Times, on the Waterford Hunt, which goes after fox. No dead foxes in this one, because as all fox hunters know, a dead fox isn’t the point of a fox hunt. It’s galloping and jumping and drinking from stirrup cups and hound music, a sample of which is included in the audio portion of the slide show. Turn your speakers up — recommended for fans of Ireland, horses, hounds and the countryside, and who isn’t included in that group?

With that, I’ve opened the tavern and thrown sex, race and blood on the table. Surely we can have a lively discussion about that. I’m off to do the crossword and catch up on some reading.

Posted at 10:02 am in Current events |
 

68 responses to “The wall cracks.”

  1. Another Connie said on December 9, 2009 at 10:20 am

    No, no, Nancy; Shiffren herself says it’s not about race! I think they need to change the name of that magazine.

  2. coozledad said on December 9, 2009 at 10:23 am

    The Dick Cavett blog I’ve bookmarked takes me to out to that Camille Paglia-with- a- dick Stanley Fish. After he fucked up the English Department at Duke, I understand he went on to throw a couple more programs in the shitter. Now the New York times is giving him space to crust up a copy of Going Rogue. He and Paglia both lack the emotional maturity and integrity to write for boy band puff mags.
    And while I’m ranting, shouldn’t global warming deniers be denied treatment from science-based medical care facilities? Think of the savings, and the side benefit of all of them moving into the homeopathy, aromatherapy and chiropractic swindles.

  3. Jeff Borden said on December 9, 2009 at 10:36 am

    As usual, the rotund racist of radio weighs in with his always sensitive assessment of black people in America. A transcript of Rush Limbaugh on the Media Matters site has this pithy gem:

    LIMBAUGH: I got two more stories in the stack today about how black unemployment is through the roof. Black unemployment is terrible. The black frame of mind is terrible, they’re depressed, they’re down — Obama’s not doing anything for ’em. How is that hoax and change workin’ for ya? They’re all livid. I mean, they thought there were gonna be an exact 180-degree economic reversal and it’s done nothing but get bad for everybody, but they’re especially upset about it because they look at him as one of them, and now they feel abandoned. And I’m sure Tiger Woods’ choice of females not helping ’em out with their attitudes there either.

    And remember: this contemptible pig of a man is the face of the Republican Party these days.

  4. coozledad said on December 9, 2009 at 11:00 am

    Jeff Borden:Rush’s choice of third world boys as sexual partners doesn’t seem to be hurting him with his audience. On the contrary, it seems to have ignited a chubby-grabbing right-wing frisson.

  5. Dave K. said on December 9, 2009 at 11:12 am

    When Nancy said, “I’ve opened the tavern and thrown sex race, and blood on the table…”, I immediately thought of O’Sullivans Italian Pub and the Ft. Wayne Rugby Club. The race part wasn’t a problem. In fact we still joke about my black teammate Leroy Dunbar being my daughter Erin’s dad. (He isn’t). Lots of sex and blood at the old Pub though.

  6. LAMary said on December 9, 2009 at 11:18 am

    The comments attached to that article make me feel sort of ill. Gay sex on the down low? The president of the US, elected by a solid majority, is actually a commmie dictator Muslim alien homosexual. Anything else while we’re at it? It’s really not even a little tiny bit about race, is it.
    I’m just digusted.

  7. Jeff Borden said on December 9, 2009 at 11:23 am

    Cooz,

    Don’t you know El Rushbo is engaged to be married for the fourth time? He loves traditional marriage so much he keeps doing it over and over and over. Of course, in his last marriage, he and Mrs. Rush the III lived in separate houses on his compound. His ego is so large he needs the entire house to himself.

    Mrs. Rush the IV-to-be is a much younger woman, of course, who is a party planner in Florida for the NFL or something like that. They met at a golf tournament and Rush apparently felt the same kind of “starbursts” National Review editor Rich Lowry got when She Who Must Not Be Named winked during the vice-presidential debate.

    Maybe the fourth time will be the charm. Perhaps the love of a good woman will cause his Grinch-like heart to grow?

  8. Dave K. said on December 9, 2009 at 11:25 am

    Thinking of Leroy, and sex and blood, reminded me of visits to Leroy’s dad’s after hours joint, “Booker T’s”. While most of Booker’s patrons were black, I always felt welcome there, along with my teammates of any race. After I “retired” from my drinking career, I realized that Booker T’s was right across the street from Washington House, an in-patient rehab facility. Thankfully, I never had to spend any time there.

  9. brian stouder said on December 9, 2009 at 11:25 am

    I’m just digusted.

    Mary, agreed; and as Nancy pointed out, it’s being trafficked by (cue yesterday’s rant) a political “professional”*, and then repeated by the am-radio Amen corner, so that the rest of us get to deal with the subtle (cumulative) effects of the acid-rain in our political atmosphere

    *although not a professional journalist; more like a professional arsonist – who works in the night and strives for deniability

  10. beb said on December 9, 2009 at 11:31 am

    I stll think that if Tiger Woods had taken the Ambien defense he might have been able to pull this off. All he would have had to do was tell police that he had been having trouble sleeping, took some ambien, woke in the tree and has no more idea how he got them then they do. That would have been a story with some credibility and would have explained why he was so thankful to his wife — for saving him from some worse event while driving under medication. The problem all along was that he couldn’t present a believable story so from the beginning people were thinking cover-up.

    Someone (not me) ought to do an analysis of how often the comments follow from what Nancy talks about. It seems that other times when Nancy has said ‘I’ve thrown red meat on the table, go at it,’ comments have often strayed off to something else.

    This day in History Arthur C. Clarke and Philip K. Dick were born. Lots of people are born all the time but how often do two of the mainpoles of science fiction get born on the same date (but 11 years apart)?

  11. Peter said on December 9, 2009 at 11:59 am

    And Beb, it’s my birthday too! I’ve been told that I look like a science fiction reject….

    And Nance, thanks for the article – I have to email one to you about the recession and Chicago architects – estimates between 20 – 60% unemployment, and we’re better off than Florida!

  12. brian stouder said on December 9, 2009 at 11:59 am

    but how often do two of the main­poles of sci­ence fic­tion get born on the same date

    Well, not sure how this relates (two mainpoles of the modern world?), but this reminds me of a bit of trivia, which we will present in Jeopardy form:

    Born on the same day as President Lincoln, this person’s thinking evolved into the unifying theory of the life sciences

    (hum the music)

  13. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on December 9, 2009 at 12:01 pm

    Chuck Darwin, Feb. 12, 1809.

    Sorry — who is Charles Darwin?

  14. LAMary said on December 9, 2009 at 12:04 pm

    My son Pete, born 2/12/94?

  15. brian stouder said on December 9, 2009 at 12:10 pm

    And the game ends in a tie!

    (I dislike when they come back from commercial and take money away from a player who uttered a wrong first name, but got the last name right – when they would have been considered correct if all they said was the last name; but always ‘who is__’ ‘what is__’ is fair enough)

  16. Jolene said on December 9, 2009 at 12:17 pm

    Speaking of unemployment, check out this animation. Scary.

  17. LAMary said on December 9, 2009 at 12:27 pm

    http://gawker.com/5422246/anti+gay-republican-leaders-safe-word-green-balloons?skyline=true&s=x

    Again.

  18. coozledad said on December 9, 2009 at 12:39 pm

    LA Mary: You know the party is going to hate losing him. He was presidential material.

  19. Jeff Borden said on December 9, 2009 at 12:58 pm

    You betcha! I hear they were holding a room for him on C Street.

  20. Joe Kobiela said on December 9, 2009 at 1:00 pm

    Jeff@3
    Read over that statement by Rush again, What part is not true?
    and Coolz, where is the proof on your Rush accusation?
    Dave K, I know it’s not Lee, but what about that dairy farmer across the road?
    Pilot Joe

  21. Sue said on December 9, 2009 at 1:13 pm

    Joe K – Maybe Jeff was just pointing out that Rush is not in a position to address the “black frame of mind”, due to issues of pigmentation. When karma hits and he finds himself reincarnated as a brother, I’m sure his opinions will be given all the import of his new position in society.

  22. Dexter said on December 9, 2009 at 1:28 pm

    The Woods story is just iceberg-tip so far. There is no sign it is going to let up any time soon.
    Andy Borowitz is a funny guy. He weighed in on Tiger in his last column, funny stuff.
    http://www.borowitzreport.com/

    So funny, in fact, that Monica Crowley plagiarized the entire story line and blabbed it out as her own nearly verbatim on the Imus Show (FBN) this morning. I wanted to scream.

  23. Jeff Borden said on December 9, 2009 at 1:49 pm

    Joe,

    I can’t add much to what Sue said so eloquently, but don’t you see racism in his assessment that Tiger Woods, who like Obama is of mixed racial background, is only dating white women? It’s like something out of “Blazing Saddles.”

    “Where’re the white women?!”

  24. coozledad said on December 9, 2009 at 1:58 pm

    I’m just bitter because we may have our “messiah” and all, but they got Santa Claus:
    http://www.sketchysantas.com/search?updated-max=2009-12-08T12:14:00-05:00&max-results=10

  25. brian stouder said on December 9, 2009 at 2:29 pm

    The North Pole – the ultimate “company town”

    What a genius ol’ Santa is! Located at the North Pole, if those malcontented little sonofabitch elves wanna strike – let ’em step right outside, and pickett ’til they’re frozen solid!

    Just the thing, on a cold winter’s night*, to warm the hearts of Hannity-type flying monkeys of the right, everywhere!

    *today in fort wayne is a very blustery day! Cold, too

  26. mark said on December 9, 2009 at 3:24 pm

    I suppose that if it is inappropriate for Rush to address the “black frame of mind” about our president because Rush isn’t a person of color, then it would be inappropriate for our president to speak about what Americans think, since a small majority of us aren’t people of color. But of course there is nothing wrong with the NYT telling us what people of color want for Christmas. http://www.mediaite.com/online/this-exists-nyt-holiday-gift-guide-for-people-of-color/

    Rush’s problem (in the statement quoted) is he is simply wrong. Obama’s abysmal favorability rating is propped up by a 95% approval rating among blacks.

  27. brian stouder said on December 9, 2009 at 3:36 pm

    abysmal

    Abysmal?

    I could agree with “ethereal” or “irrelevant” or even “unspectacular” – but if he’s a couple points above or below 50, who cares?

    If I get a call from some pollster tonight – it’s a nuisance call and I’m going to treat it as such; whereas if I get such a call within a few weeks of an election, THEN I’ll give a more thought-out (or deeply felt, as the case may be) answer. By way of saying, I think 45-55 percent is stasis, and changes within that range equal noise…

    or, not every dip equals an abyss

  28. mark said on December 9, 2009 at 3:40 pm

    brian-

    You’re right. Abysmal is an overstatement. “Low” would be much more accurate. Sorry.

  29. LAMary said on December 9, 2009 at 3:52 pm

    Maybe Obama should reactivate the color coded terror threat program and declare today an orange day. That would bring up his approval rating. It’s a tried and true method.

  30. Jim in Fla said on December 9, 2009 at 4:41 pm

    Rush states that all blacks are abandoning Obama because unemployment is high.

    Mark states that Obama’s polling numbers would be abysmal (or “low” if you prefer) if it weren’t for the 95% of the black population that continues to support him.

    I’d be interested in seeing the research that supports these statements.

  31. Jeff Borden said on December 9, 2009 at 4:46 pm

    Mary,

    If he follows the Republican rule of scariness, he will wait until nearer the elections of 2010 before the terror alert is increased.

    I am not happy with President Obama because I think he is too darned conservative and too willing to work with an obstinate party of the past that knows only a handful of words prime among them “no” and “tax cuts.” He crushed the GOP nominee in 2008, but acts like he barely eked out a victory. The Democrats are a bad joke, but the Republicans are a cruel joke and, no, I’m not just talking about all their kinky sex scandals involving their publicly pious members. This is the party that voted unanimously against the Franken bill prohibiting the U.S. from doing business with any contractors (ie, Blackwater nee Xe) who deny contractual employees the right to sue for damages for sexual assaults such as rape. And the party that has marched in lockstep to deny extensions of much-needed unemployment insurance extensions.

    Yeah, they’re really big on helping average Americans. They’ll shit on our heads if they think it will hurt Obama.

  32. coozledad said on December 9, 2009 at 5:00 pm

    Set aside the fact it becomes increasingly difficult for the Republicans to flout this new party sanctioned meme* without letting the barking golem of white resentment out of the bag, it would seem what the polls have shown with remarkable consistency is the 30% of Americans who were never persuaded that George Bush could achieve multiple orgasms by torturing small furry creatures will similarly never be persuaded that their daughters would not prefer having sex with a lanky Negro president to their brother Bucky, and the fear of presidential miscegenation stalks the land. Or at least the part of the land covered with rivulets of tobacco spittle.

    *My wife gets those Republican spam mails from a particularly obdurate Republican neighbor, so we know which hand grenade the lot of them have up their ass weekly. We call them “The Protocols of The Elders of Sarasota”.

  33. LAMary said on December 9, 2009 at 5:02 pm

    Jeff I mostly agree with you. I am still giving Obama the benefit of the doubt. I am still hoping he has our best interests at heart and he’s getting advice from wise people. I don’t like everything he’s doing, but I’m waiting for things to start improving. I voted for him partly because he gave me hope, and I still have some hope. This is very naive and optimistic of me, but I have to think this way after getting past the last administration. The cynicism, greed, and outright lying that went on then was so disheartening.

  34. Jolene said on December 9, 2009 at 5:25 pm

    The Republicans are useless, but, mainly, it’s tiresome to listen to their lies and illogical arguments. The problem now is the Conservadems–Nelson, Landrieu, Lieberman, and Lincoln especially.

  35. Jeff Borden said on December 9, 2009 at 5:30 pm

    Mary,

    Amen. I had the same motivations and, like you, am still willing to give the O-man more time. You know, I assumed the usual right-wing asshats would do everything in their power to stall Obama’s work, but I thought they were a pesky minority in the GOP, not the driving force. But that said, I’ve been disappointed in his less than full-throated support for the public option, his lagging on don’t ask, don’t tell, the shuttering of Guantanamo, etc. He keeps acting as if the GOP can be reasoned with when it is simply a throbbing, uncontrollable id of anger, resentment, fear and jealousy.

    Cooz,

    I think far too many national Republicans are just fine with that white resentment outrage, but it may yet bite them in the ass. Those polls showing the Tea Party drawing more interest than the Republican Party among conservative voters ought to be worrying the party deeply. Does anyone think these people are going to rally behind Mitt Romney, who would probably have a good shot against Obama? Doubtful.

    And then there’s the other problem: when you are pandering to older, less educated, rural white people, you are pandering to a shrinking base. The way the Republicans blew what should have been a great alliance with Hispanic voters by standing in the way of immigration reform will cost them that fast-growing bloc of voters for at least a generation. Educated people and urbanites aren’t welcome in today’s GOP. Women and gays have plenty of issues with the party platform. Ditto non-Christians.

    And yet this intellectually shriveled, morally compromised shell of what used to be a legitimate political party can still make our lives miserable. The Republicans these days are like a kidney stone. We’ll have to endure a lot of pain and discomfort before we pass it.

  36. moe99 said on December 9, 2009 at 6:00 pm

    More Republican crazy:

    http://www.balloon-juice.com/?p=30945

  37. Jeff Borden said on December 9, 2009 at 6:03 pm

    Moe,

    Yes, Agent Orange aka John Boehner, who recently complained about all these silly resolutions taking up too much of Congress’ time, is behind this.

    I thought Bill O’Reilly and Glenn Beck had already won the War on Christmas. Apparently not.

  38. coozledad said on December 9, 2009 at 6:07 pm

    Jeff Borden:I think what the Republicans are counting on big time is the implicit threat of cracker violence at the polls. It won’t work, of course, but it does seem they’ve done everything they can to get the plug-uglies riled. You’re right, though. They started too early to keep schisms from developing among the fringe. You’ve got four or five different sets of hucksters selling patent hemorrhoid salve to them, and they can’t figure out which shiny object to follow to save their asses. They’re settling into irreconcilable clacques.
    I worry they’ll start gunning each other down in the streets out of sheer bovine stupidity and frustration.

  39. Jeff Borden said on December 9, 2009 at 6:13 pm

    Cooz,

    Outside Dixie, this party is dead. Here in Illinois, there is deep and well-deserved disgust for the Democratic Party and most of its leaders, which ordinarily would mean that a Republican might stand a fairly good chance of taking Barack Obama’s old Senate seat. But every GOP wannabe, to a man, is parroting the stale Tea Party bullshit while peeing their pantaloons over the idea of using a super maximum prison in Illinois to house Guantanamo inmates.

    I may hold my nose when I vote for the Democrat, whoever it turns out to be, but I’ll be damned if I will cast a vote for the kind of empty-headed, reactionary, fear-mongering buffoons being paraded before me by the GOP.

  40. alex said on December 9, 2009 at 6:34 pm

    Pilot Joe, you give new meaning to the expression “blindly partisan.”

    Jeff B and LAM, I also remain optimistic. Filter out all the noise from both right and left and it’s pretty obvious that Obama is doing exactly what he promised in his campaign. He’s being a centrist. His continued efforts to forge bipartisanship aren’t wasted; even if the stated goal is never accomplished, he’s taking the high road and the blame for the failure won’t be his. Finally, he hasn’t even been in office for one year, so it’s patently absurd to complain that he hasn’t yet solved the frigging mess he inherited.

    I believe he’s earnest and wants to do what’s right for the country. The histrionics by the fanatics on both sides of the political spectrum are all the proof I need that he’s on the right path.

  41. A. Riley said on December 9, 2009 at 6:40 pm

    You know what else is weird about the Tiger-palooza? The word “mistress.” I guess someone decided that was a libel-safe euphemism, huh?

  42. Holly said on December 9, 2009 at 6:48 pm

    I hear that the # of ladies that Tiger has been with is at 10. On the radio today, they asked listeners to vote if his wife should leave him. I was surprised with the vote. More then half said she should stay with him because of the child. Alot of the vote came from women. I don’t agree. I think that she could never be happy again and it would show. The child would pick this up. Kids are smart. When I went into work today and asked people how they would vote, alot agreed with the callers.

  43. Holly said on December 9, 2009 at 6:57 pm

    I ran out of space. I will continue. I have a nephew who told his parents that when he gets married he is going to make sure she is the one. He told them that he wanted to be happy with who he married.. His parents stayed together for the kids. These kids have been unhappy because they know their parents are unhappy. I don’t understand why parents stay together for the kids. Maybe my view is wrong.

  44. Deborah said on December 9, 2009 at 7:41 pm

    I’m with you Holly, Tiger’s wife should get the hell out of there and fast. Unless she’s in it for the dough and then she deserves everything she gets, or doesn’t get, whichever way you look at it. And she should keep the kid as far way from his dad as she can. Cold hearted? I don’t care.

  45. Holly said on December 9, 2009 at 8:03 pm

    I used to think that Tiger was a good person. I also thought that Michael Jorden was a good person. I was wrong. Both of them may be really good at their sport. As a human being they suck.

  46. nancy said on December 9, 2009 at 8:07 pm

    She should leave not because her husband is or isn’t a good person, but because he’s apparently a sexual compulsive. That’s not just heartbreak she’s risking. It’s either go back to Sweden and make a new life now, or go back later with a case of herpes.

    And I bet the number is a lot higher than 10.

  47. Holly said on December 9, 2009 at 8:13 pm

    I bet the number is 18

  48. Holly said on December 9, 2009 at 8:17 pm

    ok, that was not my joke. It was the DJ’s

  49. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on December 9, 2009 at 9:13 pm

    There was a point in college when it dawned on me that James Joyce was, personally, an appalling husband, father, and friend. Then it dawned on me that most of the artists i liked were awful people. It took me a while to get over it, and to some degree, i probably haven’t entirely. I’d like for the production of great art to be redemptive and restorative because it would imply that the consumption of it would have a similar, if lesser effect.

    Turns out not to be the case. Ars gratia artis and all that. I would think sports operates in the same way relative to one’s life. If you haven’t engaged in intentional existential reflection and made specific choices about moral parameters, excellence in sports won’t do that self-definition for you any more than having written a stellar sonnet.

    Y’all try to lighten up about Republicans and my buddy Jonah Goldberg until i can counterpunch next week. My morning appointment should be fairly uneventful and ultimately productive, but i won’t be typing much until Saturday or so. As my good friends remind me — “two inches away from a frontal lobotomy!”

    So if the doctor slips, does that mean i could become *more* conservative?

  50. nancy said on December 9, 2009 at 9:16 pm

    Courage, darlin’. Try not to twitch.

  51. Holly said on December 9, 2009 at 9:30 pm

    take time for you. everyone will be here for you.

  52. brian stouder said on December 9, 2009 at 9:50 pm

    Here’s to you, Jeff, and hopefully your drive into the doctor’s office will be uneventful. Here in northeast Indiana, we have gone into full frozen tundra mode; very windswept and cold (and we will say – pretty, but the winter is young yet)

    If you haven’t engaged in inten­tional exis­ten­tial reflec­tion and made spe­cific choices about moral para­me­ters, excel­lence in sports won’t do that self-definition for you any more than hav­ing writ­ten a stel­lar sonnet.

    My everlasting hero is ol’ Abe, who has the endearing quality that the more one reads about him, the more admirable he becomes. The worst anyone can say for him was – he loved dirty jokes – “the more smutty, the better” –

    my kinda guy!

    Anyway – I do look forward to a full report from you, Jeff, whenever you feel better. And in the meanwhile, I’ll leave Jonah be….but I make no promises about our graceless former Vice President

  53. moe99 said on December 9, 2009 at 10:10 pm

    Oh, Jeff tmmo, do keep us informed as to you status. This is not fun, but from what I gather, it could be worse, so I will keep that in my prayers for you.

  54. Holly said on December 9, 2009 at 10:17 pm

    Brian, I have always admire Ol’Abe. He was always a hero to me. Please clear something up for me. It has bothered me. I did read an artical that said that the only reason he wanted to stop slavery was because he did not want blacks in the north. Please tell me this is not true. If this is how he felt, it would be very upsetting to me.

  55. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on December 9, 2009 at 10:24 pm

    Oh, for pity’s sake, whack on Cheney all you want. Not a problem.

    Courage! (Hey, i could use that as a tag line . . .)

  56. brian stouder said on December 9, 2009 at 10:57 pm

    Well Holly, I think that Abe truly did believe in the equality of all people…AND – (indeed) that he knew that if he was, say, running for a seat in the Senate from the state of Illinois, that opposing the spread of slavery into their state or into the territories would also tend to also mean (to the male white voters of the day) opposing having additional black Americans move into the state.

    Lerone Bennett wrote a book about Lincoln called Forced into Glory, in which he tries to make the claim that Lincoln was a racist and a reluctant emancipator; a political trimmer who was simply “forced into glory” by circumstance.

    The book was copy-righted in 1999, and if you read almost any of the leading Lincoln biographers – or see them on C-SPAN or wherever – they STILL bring up Bennett’s book so as to disagree with it!

    I think Bennett’s book is very akin to standing 8 feet from the Statue of Liberty; close enough to see imperfections and corrosion and so on, but still and undeniably next to an obect of immense grace and grandeur. If I was teaching a course, I’d make all my students read that book, plus any of the standard Lincoln biographies, if only to highlight one key source of Lincoln’s greateness – that he was always seeking and striving and extending and learning and adapting; he always went forward, and never backslid.

    Lincoln’s constituency was almost always white and male – whether it was a judge, or a jury, or a state legislative or congressional district electorate, or a statewide electorate, or a state legislature, or the voters of the nation.

    Despite the apotheosis that some would push onto Lincoln, he was far from perfect – but hindsight (at least!) tells us he was exceptionally well-suited to make the moral case against the abomination of slavery and racism – even as he himself was never done learning.

    Frederick Douglass summarizes Lincoln best of all, I think, in a speech in 1876 in Washington DC, on the anniversary of the president’s death: (from Giants, by John Stauffer, page 306) (at the dedication of the Freedmen’s Monument)

    “Truth compels me to admit – even here in the presence of the monument we have erected to his memory -that Abraham Lincoln was not, in the fullest sense of the word, either our man or our model…He was preeminently the white man’s President, entirely devoted to the welfare of the white man” and he “shared toward the colored race the prejudices common to his countrymen”. Douglas then addressed the white dignitaries in the stands before him. “You are the children of Abraham Lincoln. We are at best only his step-children”.

    No doubt many of the white dignitaries considered Douglass insolent and his speech in bad taste. But those who had followed his career would have recognized his penchant for suddenly reversing course and surprising his audience, a technique he had gleaned long ago from The Columbian Orator. He employed it now. By prioritizing the Union over the plight of blacks, Lincoln succeeded “in organizing the loyal American people for the tremendous conflict before them, and bringing them safely through that conflict,” Douglass acknowledged. “Had he put the abolition of slavery before the salvation of the Union,” he would have alienated large numbers of people and “rendered resistance to rebellion impossible. Viewed from the genuine abolition ground, Mr Lincoln seemed tardy,cold, dull, and indifferent; but measuring him by the sentiment of his country, a sentiment he was bound as a statesman to consult, he was swift, zealous, radical, and determined”

    So, Holly, on the question of Lincoln’s opposition to (and hatred for) slavery, I go with Frederick Douglass – a fellow who himself escaped from slavery and who was a tireless abolitionist speaker and writer, and who met President Lincoln and took his measure, and who considered him a genuine friend

  57. LAMary said on December 9, 2009 at 11:22 pm

    I know Tom Waits said, but he admits it was said before, I’d rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy.
    I had basically the procedure it sounds like you’re going through about 20 years ago when a root canal went bad and spread nasty infected stuff into every available sinus. They drilled little holes into bone to get it out. The worst thing it left me with was a husband. The ex and I had been living together up to that point, but I had no health insurance and he did. After being sick for over a month from the root canal, I was referred to a doctor who said I needed this surgery. A proposal and a wedding performed by my neighbor the Episcopal priest, in the lovely setting of a park in Lincoln Park, attended by a duck and a homeless guy sleeping in the shrubbery, and voila’ I was insured. Surgery was the next day. A low level infection lingered for three months, defying every antibiotic the doc threw at it. Then I was ok. But married.

  58. Holly said on December 9, 2009 at 11:36 pm

    Brian, Thank you. I grew up in Illinois. I still live here with my 3 kids and husband.(we live just outside Chicago. 20 miles) When I was in school our trips would be down to Springfield. We would go to Lincolns home in Springfield. We went to his grave. It always moved me. He is the state hero. That is how I feel. I was 13 when I first realized how great this man was. I guess anyone can print garbage about anyone they want. You are a smart man. You cleared things up for me.

  59. mark said on December 9, 2009 at 11:37 pm

    jim in fla-

    Actually I wa saying that Obama’s low approval rating would be lower if not for the almost unanimous approval he gets from blacks. This wasn’t the article I had in mind when I posted, but the first I located. http://www.gallup.com/poll/124484/Obama-Approval-Slide-Finds-Whites-Down-39.aspx?CSTS=alert

  60. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on December 9, 2009 at 11:43 pm

    In fact, it is my wife’s insurance that’s getting me pretty much the same surgery (thanks, hon!), with some slightly larger holes, but all done with (they tell me) much slimmer equipment, thanks to fiber optic everything.

    My wife’s used to having homeless people around when we’re doing stuff. Duck we only have when we’re at my brother’s, without orange sauce because he thinks l’orange is a bitter, cloying cliche.

    Speaking of which, i’ve been assiduously avoiding the Tom Waits line, but i’m glad someone used it. It passes through my mind, if not my frontal lobes, at least once an hour.

    Brian — admirable summary. Don’t think i said earlier how much i enjoyed the Lovejoy colloquy you and Alex had last week. A too-little known giant in our history.

  61. LAMary said on December 10, 2009 at 12:41 am

    “Speak­ing of which, i’ve been assid­u­ously avoid­ing the Tom Waits line, but i’m glad some­one used it. It passes through my mind, if not my frontal lobes, at least once an hour.”

    It had to be said. Glad to be of service.

    “Born on the same day as Pres­i­dent Lin­coln, this person’s think­ing evolved into the uni­fy­ing the­ory of the life sciences.”
    I checked with son Pete, and he says his thinking has not evolved into that yet. He’s all about x box right now, but not ruling out the unifying theory action in the future.

  62. moe99 said on December 10, 2009 at 12:41 am

    My mother in law (who died the year before I was divorced), was orphaned at a very early age,when her mother and older brother were killed in a car/train accident in Archbold, OH. Her father, the minister at the German Reformed Church there, was also seriously injured, and died about a year thereafter. Because it was the depression, no one in her extended family could take both surviving children, so she and her other brother were split up and she was sent to live with an aunt and uncle in Cleveland. Uncle was also a minister but of much sterner stuff. Maybe ten years later, they had their only daughter lobotomized when she proved to be too rebellious for them to handle. It seriously affected my mother in law, who was in her teens at the time. So this is what I think of when the topic of lobotomies comes up.

  63. Rana said on December 10, 2009 at 12:58 am

    I don’t understand how 95% of 12.4% of the population of the US (which is what the latest figures put African Americans as comprising) is large enough to transform even a “low” rating to anything less than “less low.” I rather think that the 20-25% of the US population who make up the hard-core right would wipe out the effects of than less than 12% of that population who are wildly enthusiastic.

    This leaves the remaining 2/3rds of the US population… who seem to be at least cautiously okay with Obama.

    If one’s going to toss around numbers to make a point — even if the numbers are accurate, which in this case I doubt — one should follow out the logic first, to see if it makes sense.

    (It’s not unlike the folks who blame the 5% of the voting-eligible population who voted for Nader for Gore’s defeat… while ignoring the much larger numbers of non-voters, Buchanan voters, and Bush voters who didn’t vote for Gore or voted for him.)

  64. Rana said on December 10, 2009 at 1:03 am

    Good luck with the surgery, Jeff (tmmo)!

  65. alex said on December 10, 2009 at 7:50 am

    Brian—

    One area where Lincoln gets a bad rap was that he at one time favored repatriation of blacks to Africa. People today assume such efforts were driven by the desire of whites to keep free blacks out of American society, and this may be true in part, but it’s not as simple as black and white. Some had a heartfelt recognition that America was a hostile place to free blacks and it was also reasonable to assume that people who had been forcibly abducted from their homeland would want to return to it.

    Philemon Beecher is a man of great interest in my research on abolitionists and the Underground Railroad:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philemon_Beecher

    He was the founder of one of the early repatriation societies. He was also the progenitor of a family of color passing as white here in northeast Indiana in the mid to late nineteenth century. He is described as “swarthy” and was known as “the Black Knight” and yet held high public office. Although I have yet to see evidence of what constituted his racial makeup, I suspect that he was the product of the racial mixing that was not at all uncommon or taboo in colonial America before the rise of slavery.

  66. nancy said on December 10, 2009 at 8:10 am

    Wasn’t repatriation of slaves the driving force behind the founding of Liberia in the early 19th century?

  67. alex said on December 10, 2009 at 8:19 am

    Nance, yes it was, and there was no shortage of ex-slaves who relished the idea of having their own nation to govern.

  68. brian stouder said on December 10, 2009 at 8:43 am

    Jeff – thanks! – and here’s hoping all goes (or is going) well for you today.

    Nancy – I believe that’s correct.

    Holly – I love visiting Springfield; lots to see – and the city itself has a compelling (very American) history, both great and awful.

    Growing up in Fort Wayne, Lincoln Life Insurance was headquartered here, and for 90+ years (ending just a year ago) they supported a world-class Lincoln Museum here…and my interest in Abraham Lincoln is owing to that museum (as much as anything) – proving that if you cast ENOUGH pearls before a swine, you’ve got something there!

    Alex – I think you’re spot-on regarding modern reaction to Lincoln’s attitude toward colonization of Americans of African descent. Indeed, modern views of the Emancipation Proclamation are much more ambiguous than they once were. Certainly, President Lincoln thought that that act was the one thing he would be positively remembered for, and many critics view the EP as an example of his duplicity – like political sleight-of-hand (the ‘Forced into Glory’ thesis, redux)

    For me, the hardest thing to read is some of the racial stuff Lincoln said in one of his debates versus Stephen Douglas.

    But to polish the apple a little, Lincoln at his worst remains evasive and lawyerly, and never approaches the rank racist hate-speech of Senator Douglas.

    No kidding – reading Burlingame’s massive biography, I honestly think that the N word is in there 500 times – between Judge Douglas’ relentless (hair on fire) racism, and the newspapers and handbills of the day. Seriously, I’m a slow reader anyway, but getting immersed in the politics of that era is some rough sledding