Land of Lincoln
At the moment, I'm reading Doris Kearns Goodwin's excellent book Leadership: Lessons from the Presidents for Turbulent Times. Published last September, it's a look at the presidencies of Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, FDR and LBJ from their beginnings to overcoming personal trials and how they become leaders in the White House during difficult periods in the nation's history. (If you're interested, you can find it here.)
I read a passage yesterday, and it was near-impossible not to overlap with it current events. It's a part of the section leading up to the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, and deals with how Lincoln was able to keep his cabinet together despite them being divided on what he was doing.
This is the Father of the Republican Party. Times change. I don't think any following comment after the passage is necessary.
"Time and again, Welles marveled, Lincoln 'declared that he, and not his Cabinet, was in fault for errors imputed to them.' His refusal to let a subordinate take the blame for his decisions was never better illustrated than by his public defense after McClellan attributed the Peninsula disaster to the War Department's failure to send sufficient troops. A vicious public assault upon Stanton ensued, with subsequent calls for his resignation. To create a dramatic backdrop that would garner extensive newspaper coverage, Lincoln issued an order to close down all the government departments at one o'clock so everyone might attend a massive Union rally on the Capitol steps. There, after the firing of cannon and patriotic music from the Marine Band, Lincoln directly countered McClellan's charge. He insisted that every possible soldier available had been sent to reinforce the general. 'The Secretary of War is not to blame for giving what he had none to give.' Then, as the applause mounted, Lincoln continued: 'I believe [Stanton] is a brave and able man, and I stand here, as justice requires me to do, to take upon myself what has been charged on the Secretary of War.' Lincoln's spirited defense of his beleaguered secretary skillfully extinguished the campaign against Stanton.
"In the end, it was Lincoln's character -- his consistent sensitivity, patience, prudence, and empathy -- that inspired and transformed every member of his official family. In this paradigm of team leadership, greatness was grounded in goodness."
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Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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