Friday, February 13, 2009

Obama, Lincoln, Gregg, and Matthews

Two more incidents worthy of note in Judd Gregg's walking away from the Commerce Secretary position he had volunteered for in the Obama administration.

1. Let's start with Chris Matthews: Has he lost his mind completely? He has just given Gregg a "Hardball" award for knifing America in the back? Matthews thinks it took courage for Gregg to stand up for his principles and walk away. It would have taken far more courage to stand by his self-initiated commitment to Obama and America, and do his best in the job he petitioned for.

2. On a happier note, Obama gracefully reflected on Gregg's desertion when Obama was talking about Lincoln in Springfield last night. The speech, by the way, was superb - one of Obama's very best in lyricism and historical acuity. Obama imagined Lincoln sitting in his office, children playing at his feet, getting a call from someone who wanted to be Commerce Secretary...

Of course, Bell did not invent the telephone until 1876, or 11 years after Lincoln's assassination. Keith Olbermann, who was covering the speech live last night, was quick to pick up the little error, and said wasn't it nice that Obama was musing what it would have been like had Lincoln lived long enough to use a telephone .... Nice pick-up and attempted recovery of a little fumble by the President.

But I give Obama plaudits for painting the Lincoln picture, even with the small anachronism. And if we want to make it historically accurate, just substitute a telegram for a telephone call...

More about the inventions of the telegraph and the telephone, and their role in politics and much more, in The Soft Edge: A Natural History and Future of the Information Revolution.
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