Wartime Leadership: The First Republican President Versus The Latest

News Abroad

Mr. Striner is a Professor of History, Washington College, and the author of Father Abraham: Lincoln’s Relentless Struggle to End Slavery (Oxford, 2006).

How will historians eventually rate our incumbent president as a wartime commander? A comparison of George W. Bush and the first Republican president, Abraham Lincoln, is instructive.

Putting aside the issue of civil liberties in wartime — an issue that people of good will could debate almost endlessly — Lincoln was a very different kind of presidential strategist.

In the first place, Lincoln wanted massive and fully equipped armies to fight the Confederates. All through the war he told his generals to use their great superiority in numbers to the maximum advantage. In contrast, Bush seemed to give short shrift to all the warnings that the American troop levels in Iraq were insufficient.

Then there's the matter of financial wherewithal. Lincoln asked Congress for the colossal sum of $400 million (in 1861 values) when the war began. Congress gave him more than he asked for. The Republicans created the first direct income tax in our history and raised even more federal revenue through the sale of bonds. As they financed the war, they invested simultaneously in infrastructure by supporting the construction of the transcontinental railroad. Money was no object for Lincoln: toward the end of the war he even flirted with the notion of assuring the ratification of the anti-slavery thirteenth amendment by paying all the slave states to ratify — to the tune of an additional $400 million. Lincoln thought big and he was willing to spend enormous sums when the nation's well-being seemed to warrant it. Bush, on the other hand, has stripped Uncle Sam of resources by advocating tax cuts right in the middle of a major war.

Then, there's the issue of worst-case contingency planning. Lincoln usually chose to prepare for the worst: he liked to have some back-up plans up his sleeve since he never presumed that his strategies were perfect or foolproof. Though he fought aggressive war, he also urged his commanders to watch their backs and sides, lest the enemy turn the tables. In 1862 he wrote to General George McClellan as follows: "In case of disaster, would not a safe retreat be more difficult by your plan than by mine?" In 1864, he wrote to General Ulysses S. Grant as follows: "I am a little afraid lest Lee sends re-enforcements to [General Jubal] Early, and thus enables him to turn upon Sheridan."

Is it likely that Bush had any back-up plans in the event that his Iraq strategies should fail?

Lastly, there's the matter of moral purpose and conscience: though Lincoln felt a righteous sense of justification, he consulted his conscience all the time. He took the ironies of his position quite seriously, and he felt himself humbled by the human cost of the war. Though it's hard to tell from a distance, Bush displays little in the way of a conscience, except in matters of fundamentalist theology. Notwithstanding his pledge of humility at the Republican convention in 2000, he comes off as smug. Self-doubt seldom figures in his thinking, or so it would appear.

The spiritual convictions of Lincoln eventually led him to view the Civil War as a punishment inflicted on the North and South alike for their vainglorious pride. Bush, on the other hand, seems cocky when he chooses to invoke religious values in his politics.

In all, it's a depressing comparison — is it not? But only time will reveal the hidden record in regard to our incumbent.

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Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

You have gone off onto a remote tangent, Mr. Clayson, but even there an appreciation for fundamental historical distinctions applies. Some names last longer than others. Lincoln, Nebraska existed before Leningrad and has outlasted it, for example. Cap Kennedy has become Cape Canaveral again. Washington (D.C) is still Washington.
Greatness lasts. Phoniness or temporary fads do not.

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

This is a trickier case, Patrick. Being an actor is part of being a successful politician. Reagan's Hollywood achievements were middling but he played the part of President far far better than, for example, the current tongue-twisted juvenile deliquent. Unfortunately, tens of millions of poorly educated Americans have shown themselves ready to swallow wholesale the myth promoted by a few professional charlatans (quite prolifically present on HNN, by the way), that historical coincidence and historial causation are one and the same. Because Reagan was president when the USSR finally began to irrevocably implode therefore he "caused" that implosion, goes that particular load of bull. Fortunately two nickels equal one dime. We have the ability to shun the 10 cent piece as readily as the Susan B. Anthony dollar was shunned (albeit for practical not historical reasons).

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

Mr. Clayson,

The "reasoning" here is simple and straightfoward, but I will restate it again in even more direct terms.

1. All U.S. presidents are not equal in inspirational power, statemanship, and effectiveness at advancing the long run interests of the citizens of our country. That, for example, is why we do not have Warren G. Harding on the penny or the five dollar bill, have not named hundreds or thousands of institutions, municipalities, and avenues after him, and do not recite his speeches every Fourth of July.

2. Ranking the 43 presidents on such bases, Abraham Lincoln has to be near the top and George W. Bush near the bottom. (There are dozens of examples illustrating this common sense reality which are readily identifiable by any intelligent reader of a major U.S. newspaper who possesses a junior high school knowledge of American history. This is also quite -though not of course entirely- independent of the sorts of practically unavoidable tendencies towards caricacturing of all major public figures which, for instance, commonly make Lincoln out to be more saint-like and G. W. Bush more deliberatly crude than either really were or are.)

3. To try to "argue" the opposite with asinine body counts and the like, is unhistorical, ignorantly partisan, and utterly ridiculous.

I recall following one link to one article on the "Slate" site once in my life. A site entirely devoted to righteous indignation, if that is what you are inferring it to be (and if that inference is in fact correct) does not hold much appeal for me.

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

Calling a Frat Boy Bush vs Great Emancipator comparison "apples" vs "oranages" has to be the HNN kneejerk hypocrite propaganda-regurtitators' understatement of the week.

Honest Abe was born in a log cabin and built a career based on intelligent thinking and hard work.

Double-talking AWOL Bush was born with the silver spoon in his mouth and has been choking on it ever since.

One of the most famous statements of human history, the Gettysburg address, was written by Lincoln in a matter of a couple of hours. The eloquent simple straight talk just poured out of him.

Failed corporate welfare recepient George Wobbly Bush cannot open his tongue-twisted mouth without a speech therapist monitoring every tortured syllable. He provides approximately the inspiration of a substitute high school football coach on an off day.

Lincoln saved America from ignorant racist traitors.

Bush is trashing America for the benefit of his racist traitor supporters.

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

Enough of this tiresome rote repetition of Rovian propaganda.

What exactly was "won" by the corrupt, deceit-laden, and incredibly bungled conquest of Iraq by Bush and his hypocritical chickenhawks?

Iraq was a dangerous mess. Still is.

America had a colossal, asinine, and ultimately disastrous addiction to a resource which is also the main source of wealth for Arab despots and Islamic terrorists. Still does.

Iraq had no nukes. Still does not.

North Korea did not have nukes. Now it does and the Bushies have not done squat about it.

Iran did not have nukes. Now its rulers are whipping their masses into nationalistic frenzy over getting them. Bush cannot seem to lift a finger against them, maybe because so much of America's military morale has been flushed down his Iraq toilet, and the world is unwilling to believe a liar the second time round, so he gets little support despite the Iranian leader's demonstrable lying, cheating, malfeasance, and demagoguery.

America had India over a barrel because they had could not continue expanding their nukes without Western support. Bush gave away the store to them in return for a few cheap photo ops.

G.W. Bush did manage to depose Saddam, one of the feared and loathed public figures in the world, but only by first, and needlessly, making himself into one of the most mistrusted and mocked figures in the world.

There is no historical parallel to Lincoln here beating around the bush about. Lincoln worked to save America from a crisis that had been decades in the making. Bush is so pathologically incompetent, he creates new crisis and challenges incessantly. From Harvey Pitt, to the trashing of FEMA, to downgraded financial solvency of the federal government, to the Dubai ports cock-up, on and on and on, nearly everything this pseudo leader touches turns to Texas longhorn steer manure.

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

"WORTH beating around the bush about"
in the first sentence of the last paragraph of the prior comment.
Pun intended.

Patrick M. Ebbitt - 9/24/2006


Good point. Hopefully, we won't have to see the puss of that half-wit, senile 'B' actor Ronald Reagan on a the face of the dime...

Patrick M. Ebbitt - 9/24/2006

"2,000 killed, 6,000 wounded in 4 years."

As of March 13, 2006 the US Department of Defense reports:

IRAQ 2309 Total Deaths [1808 KIA/ 501 Non-Hostile]

17004 Wounded in Action [9145 RTD/ 7859 Not RTD]

AFGHANISTAN 273 Total Deaths [137 KIA/ 136 Non-Hostile]

698 Wounded in Action [283 RTD/ 415 Not RTD]

I am sure it was just a typo but, as a serious history site, we should try to promote accuracy in our numbers.

Patrick M. Ebbitt - 9/24/2006


If you lean any further to the right you'll fall off your bar stool. The DOD is not a bastion of liberal ideology.


If the right fought the War On Terror with as much grit and determination as they fought the War On Christmas our troops would be home by Easter.

Patrick M. Ebbitt - 9/24/2006


You're the ballast that keeps the HNN ship righted. My 'good point' comment was sarcasm/lead in but, my Reagan's face on the dime wish was not. However, you are correct in that Mr. Bush is miles behind the Great Communicator in many ways.

Shifting gears while keeping the Lincoln and Bush comparative going...

Although, Mr. Reagan suffered from Alzheimer a thoroughly terrible and debilitating affliction that I should have never made light of and Mr. Lincoln may have suffered from what may have been Marfans Syndrome there was a claim awhile back made elsewhere, that I just can't seem to find now, that purported Mr. Bush to suffer from an affliction called Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome. This appears to be an alcohol abuse induced condition and is quite serious.

At times Mr. Bush does demonstrate odd social behaviors, slurred speech, disjointed thought/sentence construct. absent mindedness, the crazy spasms during the Bush-Kerry debates, and has had heralded mishaps... the pretzel affair, Segway demolition derby, the brush attack, bicycle NASCAR and numerous jogging falls.


An individual with Korsakoff's syndrome displays much difficulty with memory. The main area of memory affected is the ability to learn new information. Usually, intelligence and memory for past events is relatively unaffected, so that an individual may remember what occurred 20 years previously, but is unable to remember what occurred 20 minutes ago. This memory defect is referred to as anterograde amnesia, and leads to a peculiar symptom called "confabulation," in which a person suffering from Korsakoff's fills in the gaps in his or her memory with fabricated or imagined information.

Further, this illness is observable when asked, as part of a memory test, to remember the name of three objects which the examiner listed ten minutes earlier, a person with Korsakoff's may list three entirely different objects and be completely convincing in his or her certainty. In fact, one of the hallmarks of Korsakoff's is the person's complete unawareness of the memory defect, and complete lack of worry or concern when it is pointed out.

Presidential health is highly observable on camera and there is the hoopla of the annual physical but, Mr. Bush's medical history seems much more guarded than say Mr. Reagan's maybe because he was shot, Mr. Clinton's or Mr. Cheney's who is in the hospital once every 90 days. This is a real issue especially, when this guy holds the codes to the 'nukular' football.

Patrick M. Ebbitt - 9/24/2006


If any major US city suffered (87) deaths in a 24 hour period as Baghdad did two days ago local police supported by the National Guard would have that town under lock down and curfew.

New York City was turned totally upside down over a recent death of a single coed. Not only is your analogy a total disconnect it is absolutely asinine.

The death of a single US Service Man or Woman is anything but... how did you define it... oh, yeah!... minor. If not, tell that to the mother of any one of the 2309 we've lost so far in the Iraq War.

Patrick M. Ebbitt - 9/24/2006


As for you Mr. Thomas here's a few photo's of those woman and children you lovingly care so much about. A couple shots of selling the Girl Scout cookies door-to-door is quite touching...

Ask any of these folk if they are part of the 80% 'ers in Iraq that you 30% 'ers here at home like to brag about...


or here...

www.spookyfilms.com/ enemy.htm

There are plenty more if you're still not convinced.

By the way you really need to get off the FDR fixation. It's eating away at what little grey matter you have remaining.

Patrick M. Ebbitt - 9/24/2006

“660,000 dead, 2 million wounded”

Only re-enactors use black powder rifles and fight in line formation. 140 years of technical advances in weapons, tactics, defensive armor and field medical treatment make this a mute comparison. However, the population of the United States in 1860 was approximately 31 million. By the end of the US Civil War in 1865 an estimated 620,000 Americans had died which is more than all the preceding and following wars up through Vietnam combined. Interesting, isn't it, that we have historically been a greater menace to ourselves than our enemies have been?

“Lincoln was served by some terrible Generals”

Overall, Lincoln was served by very capable generals throughout the US Civil War but, initial setbacks created by a highly underrated Confederate 'home' team led by equally outstanding field commanders caused second guessing, infighting and the subsequent blame shifting which inevitably falls on the shoulders of the field leaders and fighting men giving historians ample room for gross distortion. 338 Union Generals served during the war including John Pope, Ambrose Burnside and Joe Hooker who along with George McClellan are blamed for Union defeats of 1861-62 before George Meade halted RE Lee at Gettysburg. Meade's subsequent failure to follow-up and finish RE Lee is also cited as proof of the Unions poor generalship however, the loss of 23,000 troops over three days isn't something that is overcome as easily as Lincoln would have hoped or begged.

GB McClellan is unfairly painted by historians as weak and indecisive yet; in reality he was a brilliant organizer, tactician and innovator. Remember, McClellan was called upon to replace Irvin McDowell following First Bull Run/ Manassas. Unfortunately, the Peninsula Campaign 1862 and in particular very capable Confederate armies under JE Johnston at the Battle of Seven Pines followed by RE Lee in the Seven Days Battle halted McClellan. His fiery temper and insubordinate demeanor toward Lincoln aided in his dismissal as much as his field leadership.

US Grant along with WT Sherman were both excellent commanders throughout the conflict who brought the war into the South’s living room. If ‘butcher’ is an apt term so be it.

* Bush has been served by some excellent professional generals, with the exception of that lady they put in command of Abu Ghraib prison, probably to prevent her doing more harm elsewhere.

Although, GW Bush is served by a brilliant array of field commanders including Tommy Franks and Peter Pace we've had a few bumps in the road as the outstanding Eric Shinseki was forcibly retired and Army Field Commander William Wallace was threatened with being relieved at the wars onset. Top brass have been understandably guarded but, through conduits such as Retired General William Odom and John Murtha (D-PA) concerns are clearly voiced and aired to the press.

The comments regarding General Janet Karpinski are both ignorant and ill informed. The blame shifting from the right is appalling considering prisoner treatment was consistent and questionable throughout the theatre. Now a Colonel, Karpinski showed more cajoles that either Mr. Rumsfeld or JCS Richard Meyers or General Ricardo Sanchez by taking one for the team without complaint.

“Questionable constitutionality”

Lincoln’s Suspension of habeas corpus clearly does not equate to illegal NSA wiretaps or the Patriot Acts infringement of civil liberty or torture or foreign retention/ detention or enemy combatant designation of imprisonment without charge/ legal representation/ speedy trial… OK score this one for the Bush Administration.

“War to favor N industrialists”

War in favor of Halliburton or Raytheon or Custer Battles…

“Destroyed economy of S for 120 years”

Iraq doesn’t look so good now but we’ll see how things are in 2126. The ‘new” South has faired much better than the rust belt North so there is hope yet… retirement community property on sale now... Euphrates lots start at $125K

“Instituted democracy in Iraq, Afgh.”

In Iraq a Theocracy tied at the hip to Iran is not an ideal Democratic state however, the 30% ’ers and sinking fast according to todays latest poll results and are forced to buy any jalopy the Bush Used Car Lot has to offer.

Afghanistan is the worlds leading Narco-state whose government would collapse within days of the Coalition pull out. Karzai would be lucky to hang on, literally, as long as Najibullah.

Apples, oranges or pomegranates comparisons between Lincoln and Bush should be left to future historians 125 years henceforth.

Kathleen Rippel - 5/19/2006

Your comment about "North Americans" seems incorrect; North Americans HAVE fought North Americans.

Two examples that immediately come to mind are: 1) British Canada v. the United States in several early "disagreements" ;-), and 2) there is a little something called the Mexican War.

Kathleen Rippel - 5/19/2006

Your comment about "North Americans" seems incorrect; North Americans HAVE fought North Americans.

Two examples that immediately come to mind are: 1) British Canada v. the United States in several early "disagreements" ;-), and 2) there is a little something called the Mexican War.

Vernon Clayson - 3/29/2006

"Presidential health is highly observable on camera", and that is to who or whom? A physician, a physiologist, an historian, an auto mechanic, an illegal immigrant, a Vietnam veteran, a Hollywood liberal, who? Bush looks trim compared to Bill Clinton at the same stage of his tenure, Bubba was merely borderline obese and no one made a deal of it, audiences wanted to know what kind of underwear he wore, not whether he had some rare medical condition.

Chris Augustus Rippel - 3/21/2006

One more point.

4. I am also bugged by Thomas' claim of "Only war fought against Americans."

What does "Americans" mean? If American means people living in North America, then Thomas' claim seems right. But if American means fellow countrymen,then southerners of 1861 would have disagreed.

Though Lincoln insisted that southerners remain fellow citizens,
1861 Southerners were serious about establishing their own country
and opened fire on Fort Sumpter because they considered yankees foreigners, not fellow Americans.

Chris Augustus Rippel - 3/20/2006

Frederick Thomas' comparisons do not seem balanced or fair. Below are some examples of the inadequacies in these lists.

1. "Incredibly inept military leadership" vs. "finest initial military operation."

Lee was offered the command of the Union army at the beginning of the war.

It was Lincoln's bad luck rather than his fault that Lee and many of the best generals in America went south in 1861.

I don't think Bush deserves credit for having the best army in the world when his war started.

2. Bush is credited for achieving one of his war aims, i.e., "instituted democracy in Iraq and Afghanistan," but Lincoln is not given credit for achieving his war aim of defeating the rebellion's army. This is unfair.

3. I wish Frederick Thomas had given specific examples of the media
demanding peace for Bush's war. In my memory the media went along with
Bush's war.

Vernon Clayson - 3/18/2006

By whatever name, Leningrad, previously St. Petersburg, was a seaport and capital of Russia when the area to become Lincoln, Nebraska, was still a hunting ground for various Indian tribes. Lincoln itself wasn't called Lincoln until the late 1800s, before that it was called Lancaster, perhaps after an English city founded in the 1100s, now we are talking old? I don't know what the Indians called the area that became Lincoln, maybe they just called it "ours" before the Anglos also called it "ours" until deciding on Lancaster and then Lincoln for formal names. Soon enough the Hispanics will call it "ours" and change it to something that fits their image. I wish I could draw a smile here!!

Vernon Clayson - 3/16/2006

Surely, Mr. Clarke, a visage on currency is no sign of greatness, JFK did little of note in a brief presidency, he was enobled by getting assasinated; Sacagewea was a Frenchman's child "bride", little more than a comfort woman, she was enobled by a fanciful movie; Susan B. Anthony was a suffragette and temperance advocate that no one heard of until they put her on an unpopular and unnecessary dollar coin, no one has bothered to enoble her. Lincoln is on a penny, he took the place of a fanciful Indian,
Tell me more about how visages on currency is meaningful. Streets named after them? Given the number of streets named after MLK one would think he had been president, tell me more about how street names define greatness?

Frederick Thomas - 3/16/2006

Mr. Charles,

Bush moved with the best advice available and the advice and full consent of congress, then won the Afghan war, and the Iraq war, and is doing vastly better on the two occupations and democratizations than Clinton did in, say, Haiti or Somalia, where he demonstrated a two part policy of "cut" and "run."

Clinton did not listen to his generals, you see. Bush did, and as a result, won, HNN lefty wing-dings notwithstanding.

Vernon Clayson - 3/15/2006

Mr. Clark, have you been posting on the Slate site? Your harangue seems more fitting for that angry site then participating in this serious discussion of history. It seems to me that Lincoln scholars are finding warts on the great emancipator that a beard won't hide. There are no supermen, all of our presidents were, and are, merely rather ordinary men in a stupifying position, all had and have both good and bad sides. Lincoln is now considered somewhat literary but that opinion wasn't universal during his time, he was seen more as a clumsy bumpkin than a great orator, much as persons, like yourself, attempt to make our current president out to be. Rise above partisanship and reason with us.

Frederick Thomas - 3/15/2006

Ms. Paul:

I knew real war, and real civilian suffering, and this ain't a real war. It is a series of raids by the likes of the Bader-Meinhof gang, but better armed.

Other than the murders of the innocent by Sunni suicide goons, which may someday approach our murder rates here, the Kurds and Shia can at least say that they are not ending up lined up face down, and facing away from Mecca, as a sacrelige, in mass graves of thousands each. Under Saddam, as the current trial indicates, they surely were ending up that way.

I understand that you probably wanted someone else other than Mr.Bush, but let us not let that cloud our minds.

Lorraine Paul - 3/14/2006

Mr Ebbitt and Mr Charles, so heartening to read your sensible remarks...

Lorraine Paul - 3/14/2006

Mr Thomas, your response is stunning (or is that stupifying?). Do you actually believe that the people of Iraq are better off since the invasion?

I agree it is difficulat to get accurate information as the streets of Baghdad are 'no go' areas. Journalists can only sit in the Green Zone and try and glean information (or make it up) from those who are brave, or foolish enough, to venture out. Even the veteran reporter Robert Fisk has admitted to not being able to get out in 'the field'; which is considered an essential ingredient for reporting.

Do you not feel that this gives a small clue as to conditions in Iraq. Even the mainstream media (with the possible exception of Fox News) admits that electricity and water is not available to the majority of the population.

For you to sit in your comfortable middle-class home, admittedly, as do I, and deny the tragedy occurring in the middle-east is, to me, just one more atrocity in this atrocious day and age.

Frederick Thomas - 3/14/2006

Ms. Paul:

How do you know the fate of the women and children of Iraq? Were you there? If not, who reported it to you? Is that person rational and knowledgable?

Do you deny that "many" in Iraq are much better off now, starting with all the the Shia and Kurds, 80% of the population?

If only a wonderful misanthrope such as WW or FDR were in power! What a grander and bloodier war it would surely be, and how very many more women and children would die, as they did by the millions in Germany and Japan, burned to cinders.

Please consider your positions more rationallly!

Frederick Thomas - 3/14/2006

Let me answer both Sobottke posts:

The abolition hysteria press was indeed very active since about 1820 (library of congress)


The politicians were active too, including Mr. Lincoln who was a member of the party established several years before the war to oppose "all forms of slavery." The Southern states gave much advance warning that his views were unacceptable to them, which did not bother the Ripons of the day.

"Saving the union." Of what value is a union which behaved as this one did? Was Stalin's Union of Soviet Socialist Republics worth saving?

"Lincoln's popularity." Sadly, a majority of Americans does not know precisely who Lincoln was or what he did. Suppose the media of today were to proclaim that he was responsible for such crass incompetence that he got 660,000 American soldires killed, plus some other great number of civilians, and utterly destroyed the economy of the formerly most productive part of the country for so long? Seeing how the fate of most blacks has worked out, would they love him for putting them on that track?

It also interests me that while Jefferson Davis and R.E. Lee favored and practiced emancipation as quickly as education and job training could be achieved, Lincoln only looked at it as a way to destabilize the Southern economy.

Like I said, give me Bush anytime over angel of death Lincoln.

Douglas M. Charles - 3/14/2006

"Lincoln fought a war of attrition, and could just blast away until they surrendered. If Bush had done the same he would have lost--which is why the judgment of proper troop levels was of such key importance. Fortunately, Bush listened to Rumsfeld and the right generals."

The guerrilla warfare being fought right now in Iraq is not a war of attrition? Is that what you are trying to say?

That Bush listened to Rumsfeld and the "right generals" is what, in part, got us into this mess.

Lorraine Paul - 3/14/2006

Gentlemen, let us all put aside the euphemisms and metaphors. On the other hand would you please concentrate on the women and children of Iraq who, after being exposed to Saddam Hussein and Donald Rumsfeld's 'shock and awe' invasion, are now living lives which are often deprived of even the basic need of drinkable water, not to mention going about their every day lives in fear of rape, murder and exploitation. How nice that you are all able to ignore this, and other, atrocities occurring in this undeclared war (yes, just like Vietnam and all the others for the last 60years) and are able to pat yourselves on the back regarding facts; figures; who said/did what, where and when, and, who is the more sincere Christian!! Coming from a plain-spoken people, would you all please pull your collective heads out of your collective fundamental orifices!
Apples, oranges and the bells of St Clements....they all fall down!!

Vernon Clayson - 3/13/2006

OK, Patrick, but the numbers you give are minor in comparison to the number of deaths in this country from homicide in the same period of time to say nothing of the deaths from automobile accidents. You probably understand sampling, compare a sample of civilian persons of similar age to the same number of individuals from the military rotated in and out of the war zone over four years, somewhere in the millions, I'm sure you will find far more were killed on our own streets in homicides than have died on both sides in the war zone, where is the media outrage about that? Our politicians argue about global warming, abortion, and pork projects, so we don't think about how dangerous our own streets are. Homeland secure, I don't think so.

Lawrence Brooks Hughes - 3/13/2006

As for those 9,145 wounded in action who promptly returned to duty, let us recognize many are duplications. Many troops have now served two or three tours in Iraq, and received more than one scratch. We will never know the net number of Americans wounded, but we will always have larger-than-accurate numbers thrown at us by the liberal media.

Lawrence Brooks Hughes - 3/13/2006

If we are going to cite the body counts we should mention those 2,300 were all volunteers, while many of the 600,000 were drafted, as were most of our dead in Vietnam, Korea and WWII.

Thomas Martin Sobottke - 3/13/2006

Oh, and on that small matter of emancipation: Lincoln said that if he was to be remembered for anything in history it would be for that act. He was keenly aware of its importance. So were millions of freed slaves. Why not celebrate Emancipation Day next January 1st?

Thomas Martin Sobottke

Thomas Martin Sobottke - 3/13/2006

We could start by being more honest in appraising Abraham Lincoln. A "corrupt media" did not demand war prior to Ft. Sumter. In fact, Northern politicians were busy trying to enshrine slavery in a Constitutional amendment for all time, and to make that un-amendable. It was not enough for the South. They left the Union anyway. Lincoln himself made a horrifyingly conciliatory innaugural address on 3 March 1861 that the South was oblvious too.

The failure of Reconstruction to get African-American Freedmen an education and out of poverty can not laid at Lincoln's door. He "belonged to the ages" prior to the complete end of the war, with his assassination at Ford's Theater.
He was not available to shape the Reconstruction of the South.

And then there is the small matter that Lincoln was most responsible for "saving the Union," something this writer approves of.

We might also add to this neo-Confederate the now well-worn suggestion: "You lost--get over it."

I think any opinion poll of both historians and the public would rate Lincoln ahead of George W. Bush. Any American worthy of the name knows the difference.

Thomas Martin Sobottke

Frederick Thomas - 3/13/2006

...these two wartime presidents.


660,000 dead, 2 million wounded, in 4 years.
Incredibly inept mil. leadership.
Questionable constitutionality.
War to favor N industrialists.
Destroyed economy of S for 120 years.
Hypocritical: no intent to free slaves except as afterthought.
Slaves freed without education or training, poverty resulted.
Only war fought against Americans.
Overthrew half of state governments.
Disenfranchised most Southerners.
Deliberate war on civilians-unknown deaths from starvation, disease.
Corrupt media demanded war.
Best general: Grant, "the butcher."


2,000 killed, 6,000 wounded in 4 years.
Possibly finest initial military operation in US history, fastest victory, lowest loss of life.
Instituted democracy in Iraq, Afgh.
Corrupt media demanded peace.
Best General: Tommy Franks.

As a former military person, who suffered under the inane leadership of the LBJ/Rostow/Rusk cabal, and can only imagine how bad it was under Lincoln, I would have welcomed Bush's straightforward approach in Vietnam.

I understand that the author wants to discredit Bush somehow, but sorry Charlie, it ain't working. Bush really did exceptionally well, and Lincoln could only win by creating Union corpses by the hundreds of thousands.

The author betrays a great deal of ignorance by deriding Bush's religious beliefs, when Lincoln may well have been the most publicly prayerful president ever. I find this ignorance of Lincoln as depressing as the author says he finds the comparison.

Vernon Clayson - 3/13/2006

Mr Hughes is on target, all he lacked was a reference to the 600,000 dead in the War of the Rebellion as compared to the 2300 in this war. I don't know that anyone kept record then of the number killed in accidents and those committing suicide, subtracting those two factors in this war brings the number killed in combat to between 1700 and 1800. The comparison isn't even between apples and oranges, it's misquided warm fuzzy feelings for Lincoln as opposed to cold hard facts in today's political climate. 600,000 cold hard dead and Lincoln is praised, above all for his compassion and genteel humor, perhaps Bush should say burn Baghdad. Prison torture, compare Gitmo or Abu Ghraib to any Civil War prison!

Lawrence Brooks Hughes - 3/13/2006

Lincoln had to get involved with the war because he was served by some terrible generals whom he had to give commands for political reasons or risk losing the home front. Bush has been served by some excellent professional generals, with the exception of that lady they put in command of Abu Ghrib prison, probably to prevent her doing more harm elsewhere. (Yes, the great disaster of the Iraq War was the liberals' fault!) Bush decided to let his enemies in the media and on the campus do their damnest on the home front without retaliation, since he was stronger than Lincoln politically, and didn't need to suspend habeus corpus... It is well to appreciate Bush has been fighting for the hearts and minds of arabs, not just to kill the bad ones. He needed to win friendship and cooperation from the others. This was a new kind of war, more noble than any before it, and more difficult to fight, too. Lincoln fought a war of attrition, and could just blast away until they surrendered. If Bush had done the same he would have lost--which is why the judgment of proper troop levels was of such key importance. Fortunately, Bush listened to Rumsfeld and the right generals. As for Lincoln being unsure of himself, he was sometimes unsure of how to go about what he wanted to do, but not about what he wanted to do. Au contraire.