What Obama can learn from Lincoln

Rick Klein, Amy Walter, Richard Coolidge & Sherisse Pham
Power Players

Top Line

A president has been re-elected in tumultuous times, there's the challenge of a lame duck Congress to pass controversial legislation, we have a polarized electorate, and an even more polarized Congress. Will the president forsake those very beliefs that got him re-elected just to pass legislation? Will he rise above, or will he engage in petty politics?

Is it the year 2012 ... or 1865? In fact, it's both, which is what makes the new "Lincoln" movie and our current political situation so much fun -- there is so much about these times that are similar.

Granted this year's issue of an impending so-called "fiscal cliff" is far less important than abolishing slavery, but there are so many other parallels. Obama could learn a lot from Lincoln's wheeling and dealing with politicians, as it is portrayed in the movie. Politics is messy, and even Lincoln was involved in horse trading and a little bit of subterfuge to get things done. That is what it takes in politics.

What Abraham Lincoln knew and didn't necessarily love to do -- much like President Obama -- is what the price was for each Congressman or politician, be it getting a patronage job, a one-on-one meeting with the president, or what have you. Obama wants to campaign around the country, rallying Americans around the issue of making real reform happen and raising taxes on the rich. But he probably needs to spend a little more time engaging in one-on-one time with those members who need a little arm twisting.

For more Lincoln lessons for Obama, check out this week's Top Line.