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Mike Bailey

. . . Personally I claim no knowledge of anything Zen-like. But I do appreciate the real "stuff" of life.

The use of iconography to support various nationalistic myths is not only damaging to our ability to understand the leaders of the past but is insulting to the memory of the real human beings they were.

Abraham Lincoln is a good example. His deification is too well known to comment on. But it is the man that interests me and your posting reminded me.

The journals of Lincoln's former law partner in Springfield, IL have revealed that Lincoln himself contracted syhplis on a lawyering trip to Indiana, probably in the early 1850s.

Mary Todd Lincoln's insanity is now thought to have been brought on by Lincoln's disease. Throughout his Presidency Lincoln defended and protected her, no matter how bizarre her behavior.

It is hard to imagine the crushing weight of responsibility on Lincoln's shoulders during the Civil War. Add to that the guilt of having caused Mary Todd's illness and, probably, the early death of their son Todd.
Of all his time in office Sandberg says that the only time Lincoln was seen to weep was at the time of the death of his child.

So this icon of American virtue and history is really just a flawed and normal human, warts and all. And like everyone else Lincoln reached deep inside himself to carry on with his responsibilities. At once a wartime President in the real sense and a flawed spouse who lived all his life with the consequence of a youthful indiscretion.

To me, far from diminishing Lincoln's stature, it enhances it. Enhances it greatly.

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