Lincoln's Failings Offer Modern Lesson

Politicians must learn to face their flaws, not exult in strengths
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 6, 2008 7:58 AM CDT
Hillary Rodham Clinton views the presidential carvings at Mount Rushmore as she campaigns near Keystone, S.D., Wednesday, May 28, 2008.   (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
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(Newser) – Abraham Lincoln had his dark days. For a while, Lincoln was mercury-pill-popping, sleep-deprived wreck who briefly considered suicide. “Lincoln went Crazy,” wrote friend Joshua Speed. “It was horrible.” Lincoln, of course, grew out of it, facing his flaws in a way today’s leaders ought to emulate, writes David Brooks in the New York Times.

In Lincoln’s day, “maturity” meant overcoming inner wickedness, so Lincoln found his flaws and attacked them. That sin-centric worldview is gone now, but it would certainly help our politicians, ever elected for their strengths, then defined by their weaknesses—from Bill Clinton’s narcissism to Bush’s intellectual insecurity. “It would be nice to have a president who had gone to school on his own failings,” writes Brooks.