One hears that the rhetoric that carried Obama to the White House is Lincolnesque, which it most certainly is not, either in its imagery or its prosody. One hears even that Obama is not just an extremely talented and promising new president but, as Henry Louis Gates Jr. writes, that he is “destined”–destined!–“to be thought of as Lincoln’s direct heir.”
Barack Obama counts Professor Gates a friend. They seem to share more than a few things in common, among which is the equally high esteem in which they both hold Barack Obama.
One can reasonably take issue with a point or two made in Professor Wilentz’s essay, but sections IV through VI present an entertaining account of Gates’s book on Lincoln. Garry Wills praised Gates’s book in a widely read New York Review of Books review that was linked on RealClearPolitics. In section VI of Wilentz’s essay, Wills emerges as a highly deserving casualty of Wilentz’s critique of Gates.