Professor Robert Bray was featured on CNN’s Erin Burnett OutFront last week. Taking the upcoming release of Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln as an occasion to consider Barack Obama’s reelection in historical context, interviewer Tom Foreman asked the nationally recognized Lincoln scholar what advice Lincoln might have had for Obama as he moves into a second term. Bob suggested that Lincoln might have offered three lessons to Obama:
- “Make your enemies into friends.” Lincoln was adept at changing the minds of his political opponents. “He was able to keep his eye on the prize,” Bob says, “which means he was able to disassociate himself from personal attacks.”
- “Be mild but firm.” Lincoln could exert political pressure to accomplish the goals he considered important for the nation, but he could do so without riling the opposition. “He could talk without heat to his political opponents.”
- “Take the long view.” Lincoln looked beyond the Civil War to consider the long-term implications of the end of slavery, and he tried to shape the political discourse of the day to serve long-term ends. “He believed firmly, I think, that if we put our heads to it and we put our wills to it, the American people could be the shining example of equality for the world.”
A recording of the segment and a parallel print article are posted on the CNN site.