HISTORIA | Steven Spielbergs film om Abraham Lincoln är baserad på Doris Kearns Goodwins Team of Rivals från 2005.
Inför valet 2008 bad Katie Couric, på CBS News, presidentkandidaterna nämna en favotitbok. Obama valde Goodwins bok.
If you were elected president, what is the one book other than the bible you would think is essential to have along?
Doris Kearns Goodwin’s book ”Team of Rivals.” It was a biography of Lincoln. And she talks about Lincoln’s capacity to bring opponents of his and people who have run against him in his cabinet. And he was confident enough to be willing to have these dissenting voices and confident enough to listen to the American people and push them outside of their comfort zone. And I think that part of what I want to do as president is push Americans a little bit outside of their comfort zone. It’s a remarkable study in leadership.
Och när Time intervjuade Obama om hans agenda inför andra mandatperioden kom man återigen in på frågan om Lincolns betydelse.
I wanted to ask you, Mr. President, about the film Lincoln. We know that you gathered a group to see it here. And for me watching that movie, it was as if I had spent three hours with Lincoln. And I wondered how — it was a very emotional experience. And I wondered how you felt watching that movie. What was it like for you to spend that time with Lincoln?
I do think that there are lessons to be drawn. Part of what Lincoln teaches us is that to pursue the highest ideals and a deeply moral cause requires you also engage and get your hands dirty. And there are trade-offs and there are compromises. And what made him such a remarkable individual, as well as a remarkable President, was his capacity to balance the idea that there are some eternal truths with the fact that we live in the here and now, and the here and now is messy and difficult. And anything we do is going to be somewhat imperfect. And so what we try to do is just tack in the right direction.
And you do understand that as President of the United States, the amount of power you have is overstated in some ways, but what you do have the capacity to do is to set a direction. And you recognize you’re not going to arrive with — you’ll never arrive at that promised land, and whatever seeds you plant now may bear fruit many years later.
So being able to project across a very long timeline while still being focused on the immediate tug and pull of politics I think is a useful lesson, and an accurate portrayal of how I think about my work day to day.
I’ve heard talk of you keeping a diary but never heard you talk about it. Are you keeping a diary?
Well, I don’t have as much time to write as I used to, but in my life, writing has been an important exercise to clarify what I believe, what I see, what I care about, what my deepest values are; that there’s — that the process of converting a jumble of thoughts into coherent sentences makes you ask tougher questions.
And going back to Lincoln, probably part of the reason he’s my favorite President is he’s also one of the best writers in American history. But you see the power of his writing evolve and shape what his policies are. He has to work through things. How does he think about slavery? How does he think about union? How does hethink about the Constitution? How does he think about the role of popular opinion? All these things are just completely formed at the start of his political career.
The Lincoln who is a lawyer in Springfield, Illinois isn’t the same Lincoln as the one who addresses Gettysburg. For that matter, the Lincoln who’s elected President is not the same as the Lincoln who delivers the second inaugural. They’re different people. And part of it has to do with his ability to filter these extraordinary debates and these conflicting forces into some coherent vision of what America is and should be. I’m also not as good a writer as him — (laughter) — to state the obvious.
Bild: Amerikanskt frimärke från 1959.