The Corner

More re Abe and Fred’s Excellent Adventure

In my post yesterday, I didn’t argue that Fred Thompson amounts to some sort of second coming of Abraham Lincoln. I suggested that to reject Thompson because he has never run a large commercial concern is to confuse the traits required in a president with those required in a businessman.

Before moving into the White House, as I noted, Lincoln had never successfully managed any concern bigger than his tiny law firm. I might have added that Truman had attempted only a couple of small business ventures back in Missouri, failing in all of them. Or that John Adams, who had practiced law on a modest scale, proved of incomparably greater importance to the politics of his day than did John Hancock or any other major merchants.

I haven’t swung in behind Thompson—or, for that matter, any other candidate. I’m still watching and waiting. But since you ask, Rich, finding similarities between Thompson and Lincoln turns out to be pretty easy. Like Lincoln, Thompson places the constitution at the center of his political thought. Like Lincoln, Thompson possesses a fine legal mind. And like Lincoln, Thompson works out his thoughts in writing. (For examples of these last two traits, look at this article in the New York Times, which describes the pages of notes that Thompson made as the Senate judged the articles of impeachment against Bill Clinton.)

These similarites don’t make Fred another Abe, Lord knows. But they’re not trivial.

Peter Robinson — Peter M. Robinson is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution.

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