E.J. Dionne draws some historical parallels between Lincoln and Obama from Eric Foner's "magnificent book," The Fiery Trial, which is indeed magnificent (I read it last spring), coming, as it does, from a magnificent historian.
Dionne wisely submits that "comparing anything [or anybody] with Lincoln and the Civil War requires a paragraph full of caveats," which Dionne promptly provides. Still, I think the parallels run deeper than Dionne is willing to argue.
America's geopolitics are becoming more ideologically and idiosyncratically sectionalized with every national election; but worse, the fire-eating, radical sectionalists stand on the verge of permanently paralyzing this, the world's lone superpower. Just 41 of their votes (here, more ideological than sectional) in the upper chamber -- no majority required, not even an accompanying majority in the lower chamber -- guarantees gridlock and stagnation on even the most indispensable of legislation.
Hell, not even 41 partisan Senate "No's" are needed, for there's always a Democratic Ben Nelson or Joe Manchin to add his own assbackward obstructionism to the works.
And a house so divided ...
True, we likely won't ever see another bloody civil war. Yet the ultimate anti-fruition, if you will, of permanent national paralysis would render internal, armed conflict superfluous. We can always just putrefy ourselves to oblivion -- and we know just the people who can do it.