There is a photograph of President Barack Obama with Augustus Saint-Gaudens’ bust of Abraham Lincoln visible in the background. Through the magic of Photoshop™ I reworked the photograph to bring Lincoln into full focus.
When he placed his hand upon Lincoln’s Bible on January 20, 2009 Barack Obama declared he was committed to celebrating American unity and the use of the historic Bible would provide a powerful connection to our “common past and common heritage.”
When Lincoln placed his hand upon this very same Bible 148 years earlier a Civil War threatened to destroy the country. On Friday, 156 years later, President-elect Donald Trump will place his hand upon Lincoln’s Bible as he takes the Oath of Office. He will assume the mantle of President of the United States at a time of great unrest at home and abroad.
Upon learning of Obama’s disgraceful commutation of Army Pfc. Manning, I wondered if the ghost of Lincoln ever spoke to him during his eight failed years as president.
“Mr. President, when I took the Oath of Office I was aware I followed greatly distinguished men who administered the Executive Branch of the Government through many perils and generally with great success.”
“I concluded my Inaugural Address by affirming to those there assembled, ‘we are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.’”
“I have watched from this shelf upon which you placed me eight years ago the menace of racial division inflicted by you. Through the slipstream of time I witnessed the zenith of your campaign to become the 44th president by placing your hand upon my Bible and citing my words. Your heady talk of emulating me gave way to cynicism and complacency. The connection to me you so desperately sought to make was maddeningly out of reach.”
“Those who will take your place at the 58th Presidential Inauguration have the difficult task made harder by you to mitigate the damage done to a great nation. I believe they truly seek the illumination of my legacy. Your failures will haunt you all the days of your life.”
“I was heartbroken the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture omitted the enormous legacy and impact of Justice Clarence Thomas and chose instead to give you a large presence in the museum. It must, therefore, be galling to know Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas will swear in Mike Pence using the Bible that President Reagan used for both of his inaugurals.”
“Racial discord will not be your only legacy I fear. The American people to whom you are beholding have suffered greatly by your arrogance, fecklessness and intolerance of political opponents. You have sought, at every turn, to take away Americans’ right to bear arms, your administration covered up the murder of four Americans in Benghazi and most egregiously you lied repeatedly about your ‘signature’ law that upended healthcare and you did nothing to end the persecution of Christians.”
“The loathing for Israel you demonstrated sickened me. I could enumerate a litany of failures and scandals besmirching your tenure as you faltered day after day destroying a nation built by great men and women.”
“I stand firm in my belief that once you forfeit the confidence of your fellow citizens you can never regain their respect and esteem.”
“You should have heeded my words, ‘With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”
“Your heart will be filled with sorrow knowing you were at the apex of history and squandered it. It is a bitter agony for me.”
UPDATE 1: Welcome readers of Adrienne’s Corner. Thanks for the linky-love Miss A.