abraham lincoln

What’s the score

February 15, 2022

   The bloodied and mud bedraggled soldier burst into President Abraham Lincoln’s office and blurted, “The Confederacy has just engaged in legitimate political discourse on Ft. Sumpter, sir!”

    Annoyed by having his concentration disturbed, Lincoln cried out, “My God, man, I just had this wonderful synonym for the number 80 right on the tip of my tongue! Now, it’s gone. What is with this gibberish you’re spouting?”

   The soldier repeated what he had said, while Lincoln regarded him with mounting confusion. “Soldier, did the confederates fire canon upon our installation or didn’t they?”

   “They did, sir.”

   “Then why didn’t you say that?”

   “For the same reason they’re calling it the War Between the States instead of the Civil War.”

   “The language is becoming diseased,” Lincoln mused.

   “How so?”

   “Like calling slavery the Peculiar Institution.”

   “Also, Manifest Destiny,” the soldier added excitedly.

   Lincoln himself wasn’t so sure of that last one, given his negotiations for the continental railroad and the future Homestead Act. “Let’s get back to Sumter, shall we? What has been our response?”

You tell the Big Lie long enough and people will believe it. Why doesn’t it work when you tell a Big Truth long enough?

   The soldier pawed at the ground. “Not much, sir.”

   “Not much? What about a counterattack?”

   “We didn’t like the optics. After all, the attackers looked like us. It’s not like it was a slave revolt, you know, sir.”

   “So we did nothing?”

   “The soldiers in the fort fought bravely, but they were outmanned. We could investigate, maybe arrest a few of the low-level perpetrators, issue a report…”

  “Issue a report! My God, man. This was, I mean is, an insurrection! You think they will just stop at Sumter? This is part of something much bigger. The next thing you’ll be telling me is they don’t recognize me as the legitimate president.”  

   “They don’t recognize you as the legitimate president. Several states have already seceded, and are making their own laws and have named their own president.”

   “We have to send our own army there and law enforcement too, to restore order.”

   “There’s a problem there, sir. A great many of our own soldiers and law enforcement agree with the legitimate public dis, er, insurrection. We’re a house divided, sir.”

   Lincoln mulled the possibility of a turn of phrase somewhere in those words, but realized words would have to wait.”

   “Soldier, I do believe we’re at war,” Lincoln intoned heavily.

  “Well, sir, if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck –“

   The soldier ducked just in time to miss the axe Lincoln had once used to split rails as it came flying at his head. “Get  out!” Lincoln commanded.

   Lincoln saw the handwriting on the wall, and it wasn’t uplifting. Or even well-written. He mused, So this is what it’s finally come to.You tell the Big Lie long enough and people will believe it. Why doesn’t it work when you tell a Big Truth long enough? “All men are created equal,” We’ve been telling that Big Truth since we declared our independence. Why didn’t the people come to believe that Big Truth as true over these last, what…

   Lincoln made a quick calculation in his head. 87. That’s it. 87 years we’ve had to learn to believe the Big Truth.

   Lincoln pondered a minute longer. The time passed has been long. 87 years sounds puny. It needs an expression that is more soaring to convey how long we’ve had to make the Big Truth a reality.

   And, of course, Lincoln would eventually come up with the more soaring words he was searching for. And he would come up with more and more soaring words as the years went by. But some eight score years later, Lincoln sits stone faced, brooding over how the country can still prefer a Big Lie to a Big Truth.

  1. Mary Wonderlick says:

    this is the start or part of a witty political humor/tragedy, I believe

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