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The Lincoln Consensus

A bipartisan coalition praises Steven Spielberg’s latest film.

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Illustration by Tony Millionaire  

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL)
“If you saw the Spielberg Lincoln movie, when Lincoln was explaining what the Civil War was all about, he says, ‘We want to prove that democracy is not chaos,’ and that’s what we have to prove in this generation. Thank goodness without the loss of life, but with the challenge of our time.”

Fmr. Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA)
“If you see the movie Lincoln, you see that even back then they were battling most of the time to convince each other to go one way or the other. Since when has it been a problem to have vibrant debate in the Senate, in this great chamber? Since when? What is everybody scared about? I don’t understand that.”

Secretary John Kerry
“Maybe the movie about Lincoln today would really rekindle in a lot of Americans that best sense of what is worth fighting for and what is worth achieving in public life.”

Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA)
“I had a flashback to two weeks ago when a number of us attended the movie Lincoln. There was a screening of the movie downstairs, and George Lucas [sic] was here. And I thought about those great scenes … where the United States Congress debated slavery and whether we were going to abolish it or not. We were fighting a civil war; a president staked his life on it. We came to a decision, we had a vote, and committee debated it and the abolition of slavery took place. All because politicians took the issues to the floor, they challenged one another, and they worked hard for what they thought was best for country.”

Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV)
“I hope everybody … will go out there and see Lincoln. The movie portrays a nobility of politics in exactly the right way. For me, it’s what I work with every day, but it’s good the American people have seen or will see what the great Abraham Lincoln did to get things done. It’s remarkable.”

Sen. Angus King (I-ME)
“We’ve all seen Lincoln. Lincoln got his hands dirty negotiating the Thirteenth Amendment. And the president can’t do it by remote control. I think he ought to call them up to Camp David, lock the door, and say, ‘Let’s get it done.’ ”

Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO)
“The president has seen—at least, I think, a couple of times—and members of the House and Senate have seen this movie on Lincoln, the recent movie on Lincoln. The lesson of that movie, I think, was, when hard things get done, they get done because a president decided he was going to do what was necessary to get them done, and that means you have to realistically look at the world you live in and the Washington you have been given by the American voters to work with.”

President Barack Obama
“People have been asking me a lot about the film Lincoln and, you know … the point is democracy’s always been messy. And, you know, we’re a big, diverse country that is constantly sort of arguing about all kinds of stuff, but eventually we do the right thing.”


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