Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Grading the president – better done looking back

As I’ve mentioned before in this blog, I’m not a politician. That’s probably not a very civic-minded way to be. It’s just my reality. Life is complicated and busy, and I just put my energy in things other than trying to understand politics.

Lincoln – an interdisciplinary subject

Yet, as I delve into my studies of Abraham Lincoln, I realize politics is a subject in which I must begin to show an interest. If not, I’ll be left behind. Studying Lincoln isn’t just history, it isn’t just literature, it isn’t just military science, it’s not just politics. It’s a blend of all these and likely even more disciplines. Be patient with me, please. I’m still learning.

With this being an election year, and with so many comparisons being made between President-Elect Barack Obama and Lincoln, I’m thrust into politics no matter what, it seems. Articles which normally would not attract my attention call to me from the printed page or the computer screen – and draw me in.

Grabbed by hometown news
One such article jumped out at me today. When I was in Galesburg, my former job sometimes required that I appear before the courts to obtain arrest warrants. One of the judges I often encountered was now-retired Circuit Judge Harry Bulkeley.

Even if our paths would not have passed in the courtroom, I think they would have eventually. You see, we share a common passion – an interest in the history of our hometown and of the Lincoln legacy.

Bulkeley takes his passion even farther than I do, portraying Ulysses S. Grant as a Civil War re-enactor. In fact, the Judge looks so much like the real McCoy that he had the opportunity to play Grant on television. And, he’s chair of the Galesburg Lincoln Bicentennial Commission.

General Grant on President Bush
Bulkeley is a guest columnist for our hometown newspaper, The Register-Mail. Whether you’re a Lincoln buff, an Obama fan or a Bush supporter, I urge you to read Judge Bulkeley’s column today. He answers the question, “What grade would you give the Bush administration?”

Within the article, Bulkeley talks about how serving as a wartime president impacts the public’s perception of the person holding our nation’s highest office and of the decisions he makes. You’ll also see how perceptions of an administration or a decision can change over time. As Bulkeley says, “If we’d tried to judge the Civil War in 1864, it would have clearly been a terrible mistake.”

Check out Judge Bulkeley’s column and see why he gives President George W. Bush a grade of “incomplete.” To read the grades other Galesburgers gave Bush, see the earlier column.

Lincoln buff grades the President
If you’re reading, President Bush, this not-so-political blogger agrees with the Judge. The jury’s still out. I won’t jump to a rash conclusion and give you a mark lower than you might earn once the final grade is in. Thank you for your service to our nation in another unparalleled era.

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