When President Barack Obama took the oath of the office of President of
the United States, he placed his hand on the same bible Abraham Lincoln
used. It is one of many connections between the 16th President and the
44th. To mark the 200th anniversary of Lincoln's birth, President
Obama returned to the place where both he and Lincoln spent the
beginning of their careers in politics. The president continues to
draw inspiration from Lincoln as he deals with the economic crisis.
two years from the day Barack Obama announced his candidacy for
President in Springfield, Illinois, he made his first visit back to the
place where his long campaign began.
Speaking to supporters and
members of the Abraham Lincoln Association, Mr. Obama paid tribute to
the man he credits for paving the way to his own success.
a humbling task, marking the bicentennial of our 16th President's birth
- humbling for me in particular, I think, for the presidency of this
singular figure in so many ways made my own story possible," the
Obama's speech came at the end of a day when
partisan politics and economic distress continue to dominate the
headlines as he tries to bring the United States out of economic
New Hampshire Senator Judd Gregg announced he is
withdrawing from consideration for an appointment to head the Commerce
Department. President Obama made light of the development as he
reflected on the concerns Lincoln had over 150 years ago.
1854, Lincoln was simply a Springfield lawyer, who'd served just a
single term in Congress," President Obama noted. "Possibly in his law
office, his feet on a cluttered desk, his sons playing around him, his
clothes a bit too small to fit his uncommon frame, wondering if someone
might call him up and ask him to be Commerce Secretary."
lighthearted at times, Mr. Obama used his speech to emphasize the need
for immediate action on his stimulus plan, and insisted that government
intervention is necessary to reverse the economic decline.
knee-jerk disdain for government - this constant rejection of any
common endeavor - cannot rebuild our levees or our roads or our
bridges," he noted. "It cannot refurbish our schools or modernize our
health care system; lead to the next medical discovery or yield the
research and technology that will spark a clean energy economy."
Obama's visit to Springfield marked the end of a day filled with events
in both Illinois and Washington D.C. marking the Lincoln Bicentennial.
drawing inspiration from Abraham Lincoln's words and deeds, Mr. Obama
once again summoned the memory of one of America's most revered
Presidents in his own quest to lift the country out of a dark period.
when posterity looks back on our time, as we are looking back on
Lincoln's, I do not want it said that we saw an economic crisis, but
did not stem it," President Obama said. "That we saw our schools
decline and our bridges crumble, but did not rebuild them. That the
world changed in the 21st century, but America did not lead it. That we
were consumed with small things when we were called to do great things.
Instead, let them say that this generation - our generation - of
Americans rose to the moment and gave America a new birth of freedom
and opportunity in our time."
Illinois Senator Dick Durbin, who
facilitated Mr. Obama's appearance at the Lincoln banquet, was himself
unable to attend the gathering because of ongoing negotiations on
Capitol Hill to finalize a stimulus plan.