Learning from 1864

Does Wesley Clark enter stage left to play the role of George McClellan while George Bush reprises Abraham Lincoln? Victor Davis Hanson’s weekly National Review Online column brings Hanson’s perpsective as a military historian to our present circumstances, and a dose of optimism to lift our spirits: “These are historic times.” (Courtesy of reader Malcolm Smordin.)
HINDROCKET adds: Well, I’d like to think it will be like 1864, but I doubt that Clark will play much of a role. He was quoted today as saying that he voted for Ronald Reagan and “probably” voted for Richard Nixon. What’s that supposed to mean–he can’t remember? He isn’t sure he voted? He can’t recall whether he supported Nixon or McGovern? Sure, that’s a tough one to recall. (Of course, a lot of us would like to forget whom we supported in that election.) In any event, the Democrats aren’t going to nominate someone who voted for Reagan, even if he were a far better candidate than Clark.
Here’s the real parallel to 1864: Lincoln looked like a dead duck until July 1863, and he won the election because of a series of military successes in 1864 (especially the capture of Atlanta) that convinced the Northern public that the war was winnable. President Bush is in more or less the same position. If the war–both in Iraq and, more generally, the worldwide war against terror–is perceived as going well, he should be re-elected. If the public thinks the war is going poorly, Bush will be in the position described by Lincoln when he said that if events bear him out, all the criticism of him won’t matter; while if events don’t bear him out, a thousand angels swearing he was right wouldn’t help him. Or something like that.


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