Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Rex Reed: Not Enough Hate In Lincoln

I wonder about liberals sometimes. This time I’m wondering about liberal movie critic Rex Reed. He just wrote a review of Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln which pans the movie for being “sanitized and sentimental.” That’s liberal code for “doesn’t fit my worldview of how evil these people really were,” and that’s exactly why Rex doesn’t like this film. Oh, and he’s an idiot.

Rex’s review of Lincoln is rather an interesting read. For one thing, it’s full of politics and it’s laughably ignorant. To start, Rex tries to basically claim Lincoln for liberals and accuse the Republicans of being pro-slavery by claiming that the Democrats of the era were “rabid right wing conservatives in those days” and he calls the Republicans “liberal, left-wing.” This is untrue, but typical of Democrats. Somehow, in their world, all good deed were done by leftists and evil regimes like the Nazis and the Soviets somehow were conservative/libertarians.

He then refers to the screen play negatively as “a whopping drag” whose “verbosity does to movies what a House filibuster does to action on a health-reform bill.” Well Rex, filibusters occur in the Senate, not the House, which is really basic civics. . . even for liberals. And the House didn’t stop the health-reform bill, that’s only in your twisted liberal imagination. Indeed, when it was passed, the Democrats controlled the House. . . and a supermajority in the Senate. That means it couldn’t be filibustered, Rex. I guess liberals don’t know that though as they keep blamed Republicans for somehow interfering with Obama passing Obamacare. . . which never happened.

He also points out that the film is based on a book by “historian Doris Kearns Goodwin,” and he describes it as “noble, civic-minded, [and] exhaustingly researched.” He does not mention that Goodwin is a liberal sycophant with a real love for the Kennedys and a close relationship with the Democratic Party. Indeed, her husband was a speechwriter and advisor to Kennedy and Johnson, both of whom she’s also written biographies for. Nor does he point out that she’s been accused of significant plagiarism. Nope, she’s just identified as an “historian.” Do you think he would be as neutral about a conservative? Doubtful.

Finally, we get this ironic ending: “In a divisive election year when the Sunday morning pundits knock themselves out debating whether the political system still works, it’s a good time to revisit a year when it did.” Yes, the Civil War was indeed a time when the nation’s political system worked. Idiot. Even if he’s just talking about Lincoln affording blacks legal protection, it would take another 100 years before that actually happened. What did you think those Civil Rights marches were about in the 1960s Rex?

Anyway, let’s get to this idea of the film being “sanitized and sentimental.” Rex points out that the following bad things are in the film. Thaddeus Stevens, the passionate abolitionist, is presented as having a secret black mistress, and his “personal motives don’t always extend to the country’s best interests.” And Lincoln “threatens his wife with the madhouse” over her grief over the death of their son. But then our political and historical genius Rex mentions some things that don’t get included:
(1) “In reality, Lincoln believed in equality under the law, but not racial equality; he had no use for blacks and maintained a strong personal belief that whites were a superior race.”

(2) “Honest Abe was not so honest either. He and his cabinet of rivals were not above bribery, lies, suspending habeas corpus or bending the Constitution to break the South’s economic infrastructure. These are facts Spielberg conveniently overlooks.”
There you have it. This film was evil because it didn’t show Lincoln as a deeply corrupt white supremacist. Because of this, Rex calls the film “Spielberg’s bloated $50-million history lesson” and “a colossal bore” and “so pedantic, slow-moving, sanitized and sentimental that I kept pinching myself to stay awake—which, like the film itself, didn’t always work.”

This really highlights the problems with liberals. For one thing, Rex doesn’t know jack, yet he’s smug enough to try to give a history/civics lesson. Consequently, anyone who reads Rex’s review and believes any portion of it, will basically be a dumber American than when they started. Nice work, Rex.

Secondly, he’s so blinded by his need to see the past as full of evil people that he's incapable of enjoying a film about someone unless it shows their dark side. Talk about cynical! Not to mention, consider his inability to separate out his political views from the review. He can’t enjoy the film for what it is, he attacks it for what it is not, and what it is not is cynical enough to suit his view of history. This is why you can’t trust liberals, because they are incapable of separating their beliefs (unfounded or otherwise) from everything else they do.


Gideon7 said...

Not to mention the inconvenient fact that the the driving force behind the Abolition Movement were those nasty hateful intolerant Christianists.

Tennessee Jed said...

I have never known Rex Reed to be particularly correct about anything. Despite my love for history and Lincoln, and despite my respect for D.D-L., I will not see this film. I will not put a penny in Spielberg's pocket not Kearns-Goodwin's pocket. I am, more than ever, putting my money where my mouth is. This can get put on the shelf next to Robert Redfor's film about the assassination

shawn said...

The real problem with Spielberg's Lincoln is that it completely ignores his life as a Vampire Hunter.

Anonymous said...

On one hand, I agree with you and it's a shame not enough critics are able to separate their politics from the films they review, though I imagine this is mostly confined to older critics who still review for major publications (as opposed to any number of movie geek websites). I may also be completely wrong on that count. (see: our previous discussion about websites like Slate and Salon a.k.a. the "deconstructionists")

On the other hand, while it's important to know what/how the other side thinks, sometimes I think conservatives put a little too much stock into this sort of thing. He's a critic... who gives a shit what he thinks? As if that should have any bearing on your choice to see a film/listen to an album/etc.

And while many critics tend to lavish praise on the most pretentious crap just to prove their membership in the "club," I think some folks are too quick to knee-jerk: this critic liked it so I'll hate it! Make up your own opinion, man.

Besides, critical accolades are never a true measure of a film's success - only time is.

Anthony said...

Rex Reed is just one guy. Most of the (mostly liberal) film critics speak quite highly of the film.

tryanmax said...

While I generally agree with ScottDS that getting worked up over a single film critic's ignorance of civics and history is silly, I also find Reed's words worthy of scrutiny in that they are emblematic of how history is routinely revised by those who have no love of it.

Reed is not so subtle as others in the way he causally tosses out falsehoods that "everybody knows" to be true. But that is the sort of thing liberals do constantly, and most are more deft than Reed is. As such, it does serve a purpose to call them out on occasion, especially in regards to something like a Rex Reed review which will enjoy significant traction.

Tennessee Jed said...

Before long, Lincoln will have always been a Democrat and may (let's not let facts get in the way of a good story here) just may yet be found in centuries to come to be an ancestor of our first true emperor and father of our country, the grand and glorious Barrack Hussein Obama!! (mmmm, mmmm, mmmm) Now children, open your hymnals as we sing his praise

Kit said...

So, I take it that this is an endorsement of the movie? ;)

AndrewPrice said...

Gideon7, My guess is that Lincoln will skip that part.

AndrewPrice said...

Good for you Jed! I've decided that I'm not sending anymore money to Hollywood either. I will wait for these things to come to television from now on. It's not like a six month wait will kill me.

AndrewPrice said...

Shawn, So true. In fact, I almost used a Vampire Slayer image as a joke. LOL!

Kit said...

"He and his cabinet were not above. . . suspending habeas corpus"

Because what do you do when you have secessionist assemblies being set up in states in the midst of a full blown insurrection?

He would do well to understand that throughout much of 1861 the Union was on the verge of cracking apart into not two but multiple pieces.
And that Lincoln's "evil" measures helped keep it from further cracking.

Kit said...

In other words, especially in the first year, Lincoln was faced with the possible Balkanization of the United States.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, You miss the point. I don't care at all what Rex Reed thinks. Seriously, the guy's opinion means less to me than some random person I meet standing in line at the grocery store.

I dissected Rex's review for two reasons. First, to show how stupid and unreliable the man is. His review is seething with liberalism and it's all intensely, factually ignorant. And it's seething with cynicism and it shows that he can't divorce his politics from his profession.

Secondly, I point this out because it's part of the larger trend. Rex is like every other liberal critic and every other liberal journalist. I can find similar articles about sports, finance, books, films, and even "what's hip." Liberals are unbelievably ignorant and they simply can't divorce their politics from their day jobs. And the point is that with millions of idiotic liberals spreading this kind of misinformation and trying to pimp their politics in every facet of society, what you get is a cultural bubble in which liberals get their idiocy cradled and affirmed every time they turn around and conservatives get attacked.

So your position of saying, "it's just one critic" misses the point as badly as saying "well the guy at the front door of the death camp is just one Nazi" or "bin Laden was just one terrorist." You can deconstruct anything to the point of being meaningless, and that is what you are doing by dismissing this wave of liberal assault as "well, this is just one example."

AndrewPrice said...

Anthony, See my response to Scott.

BIG MO said...


The usual liberal claptrap that Dems have always been good and Repubs have always been evil. Of course, two simple, unavoidable facts with a capital "F" can dash that idiocy to pieces: When Dems have their annual Jefferson-Jackson dinner, they conveniently ignore the facts that both Jefferson and Jackson were slave owners, and Jackson initiated the policy of "removing" the Cherokee, etc. from the southeast. According to the liberal worldview, both were unforgivably evil. Oops.

Republicans still believe in the core platform of the party as established in the 1850s: free soil, free labor, free men. This meant a country free from the “curse” of slavery, where a man could stake his claim and make a living for himself without the leave of another or unfair competition from slavery, and the federal government would help him do it by making resources available or clearing obstacles – not by doing it for him. Today, that original platform survives in conservatism as the right to make a living without overt government interference or heavy-handedness, whether by the bureaucracy (such as the EPA) or Congress via “redistribution.”

I'm an "amateur" presidential historian, and I've been working on a book for some years now on the first 24 presidents. I care not a whit for a big screen treatment of Lincoln, because -- based on what I've heard and read -- it's every bit the liberal concoction that Andrew says it is. The best portrayal of Lincoln in recent years was by Sam Waterston in "Gore Vidal's Lincoln." Waterston rose above some of the revisionist history and gave a fine, sympathetic Lincoln.

But mostly, I prefer books -- particularly Philip Shaw Paludan, The Presidency of Abraham Lincoln (1995), part of the University of Kansas’ superb & scholarly American Presidency series; Allen C. Guelzo's Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation: The End of Slavery in America (2004); and Mark E. Neely Jr.'s The Fate of Liberty: Abraham Lincoln and Civil Liberties (1992)
And of course, Lincoln's own writings and those of Frederick Douglass. No fewer than three book-length studies came out in 2007-2008 exploring the eventual friendship of Lincoln and Douglass, the best and most readable is James Oaks’ The Radical and the Republican: Frederick Douglass, Abraham Lincoln, and the Triumph of Anti-Slavery Politics 2007.

In fact, if you truly want to understand Lincoln and race beyond the inane "raaaaacist" crud of the liberal left, read Douglass' phenomenal April 1876 speech he gave at the dedication of the freedman's monument in DC. With typical rhetorical brilliance, Douglass first laid out the hard-core abolitionist case against Lincoln, then did a 180 and laid out the case for Lincoln as emancipator -- far better than any self-righteous lib revisionist racialist today.

As they say, go to the horse’s mouth for the best thinking on Lincoln instead of the horse’s ass.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, That's exactly the point. If you want to see a clever liberal, look at Roger Ebert. Rex blunders around like an idiot and just speaks his small mind openly. Ebert understands subtlety.

Ebert will never attack a conservative film head on, instead, he finds reasons to dismiss it as "confused or muddled." (He also uses "sanitized and sentimental" -- that's become code, with the opposite code being "enlightening".) He will never pimp a liberal film directly either, he will describe the message as "apolitical and worthy of being heard." He is very good at subtly spinning facts and history as he sees fit and he, like the rest, is very good at repeating things "everybody knows" which aren't true -- like the military being poor minorities. This has been debunked repeatedly, and he knows that because he's political, yet he repeats this point over and over and over but always in subtle ways.

And the point here is not that Reed is an idiot, of course he is. The point is that this is all part of a pattern of behavior that we see throughout the journalist, education and entertainment industries. And that reinforces liberals in their conventional wisdoms.

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, I don't know if they can get that blatant, but they already believe that the modern Democrats were Democrats until the Civil War, when they became Republicans and then they switched back in the 1930 (but only at the national level because they had nothing to do with Jim Crow). Oh, and they didn't start Vietnam, Kennedy would have stopped that, except Richard Nixon likes war.

AndrewPrice said...

Kit, It doesn't matter... human rights are human right... unless Obama violates them (see the article at the main site today).

In all seriousness, the US has always suspended parts of the Constitution in times of war. A country needs to if it wants to survive. But speaking as a conservative, I do not love Lincoln. He ushered in the first big change in the American system, with FDR bringing in the second. After Lincoln, the Founder's model was effectively dead.

tryanmax said...

BTW, I hope no one takes this the wrong way, but the some of the response to this article underscores what I've said about more conservatives needing to study communications as a major. I picked up right away on what you were saying, Andrew, b/c that is the kind of thing communications studies are all about. It's sort of about doing the deconstruction, but knowing where to stop before it hits the meaningless bottom.

Some of it I didn't appreciate at the time, b/c it is always taught from a liberal perspective. For example, the constant lament of feminists about the ways in which women are portrayed on film (by other liberals, incidentally). But now it makes more sense b/c I have been able to apply the same concepts to conservatism.

Basically, if 90% of the images of women you see are overly sexual, it prompts most people to think about women as being more sexual than they probably are. (I'll leave off the vicious cycle of trying to meet or defy expectations.) Likewise, if 90% of the images of conservatives you see are hateful and stupid, you begin to accept that conservatives are those things.

A lot of it seems like common sense, except that most people keep this knowledge below their every-day awareness. I, for one, am glad that I didn't let the pooh-poohers get to me when I studied comm. It has proven to be the most useful part of my education.

Kit said...

"Things Everbody Knows" in history.

"Columbus, everybody knows that the Earth is flat."

"Copernicus, everybody knows that the Sun revolves around he Earth."

"Everyone knows that blacks are biologically inferior to whites and that their continued breeding is a threat to Whites."

"Everybody knows the housing market is stable."

AndrewPrice said...

I need to run folks, I'll be back.

Kit said...

How did Lincoln kill the Founder's model?

Kit said...

"In all seriousness, the US has always suspended parts of the Constitution in times of war. A country needs to if it wants to survive. But speaking as a conservative, I do not love Lincoln. He ushered in the first big change in the American system, with FDR bringing in the second. After Lincoln, the Founder's model was effectively dead."


Mark said...

I absolutely loved reading this :)

Anthony said...


I got what you were doing, but my point was and is that pointing to the craziest guy in the room as evidence of the secret thinking of everyone else is problematic, particularly when most of the group in question takes the opposite stance.

T-Rav said...

Shawn, +1,000,000 points for that comment.

I have no idea who Rex Reed is (he honestly sounds like a third-string Marvel Comics character), but he doesn't sound very smart. There is an argument to be made for the Republicans being more liberal than the Democrats during this period, but the truth is, both parties had liberal and conservative wings--and in fact, those political philosophies had not yet fully evolved in America. This is a case of reading the wrong book backwards if there ever was one.

As far as Goodwin goes, I've read most of her Lincoln book, and in fact it stays fairly impartial. But in person, she is basically a self-styled socialist.

tryanmax said...

Anthony, I must disagree that pointing to Rex Reed is at all like pointing to the craziest person in the room. Nor is Andrew positing some form of "secret thinking." To wit, Reed's confident assertions of factual error which were subsequently published by an editorial staff who did nothing to allay his potential public embarrassment only serve to illustrate how open and commonplace Reed's thinking is.

AndrewPrice said...

Thanks Mark! :)

AndrewPrice said...

Big Mo, The Democrats have the most amazing ego-protection system which simply does not let them connect dots.

Trail of Tears = Evil. Jackson ordered Trail of Tears, BUT Jacksom = Democrat. Hmm. Normally, this is where find a reason why to say Jackson = Republican. BUT they do claim him, ergo they skip to phase two rethink...

Trail of Tears = Evil. US = Evil. Ergo, Trail of Tears caused by US. Jackson = irrelevant to issue.

Its the same way "the US" interned the Japanese... not FDR.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, That's exactly the point. The problem isn't that Rex Reed said this, the problem is that 10,000 Rex Reed's say this every day in every context until 60 million liberals (and several billion foreigners) start to believe it. In effect, this is one cog in the groupthink machine. And we can't dismiss this as "oh, it's just guy" because that's the way you stay blind to the machine... by looking only at it's pieces in isolation and saying "I don't see the problem with this one guy."

AndrewPrice said...

Anthony, I don't think Rex is the craziest guy in the room at all. Reed is considered "a top film critic." He's not considered an ideologue or a fringe idiot screaming in the woods. He's the same thing as Roger Ebert until Big Hollywood outed him -- respectable and "apolitical."

Ditto on Goodwin, who is considered "a top Historian," with no mention ever made of her politics.

And the things Reed says here are not outlandish, that's the problem, they are exactly what other liberal critics say in article after article. And when enough of them begin repeating things that aren't true, redefining history, creating "conventional wisdoms", and telling people how they should analyze the world, they end up creating this bubble in which liberals have all their BS affirmed by "important people".

In effect, this is groupthink and it slowly rewrites reality so that liberals can continue with their delusions.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, You are talking nuance and this isn't about nuance. The idea here is to take something evil (slavery) and define it as conservative policy. This is what liberals do. It's the same why they claim the fascists/Nazi were conservatives, the same way they claim colonialism (done for liberal reasons) was a conservative idea, etc. They simply take all the bad things they've done and redefine them as "conservative."

They don't say, "well everyone bears blame" or "well, it was done by people on a fringe" or whatever... they say, "at that point, the bad people were conservatives." Simple, clean, effective to their followers.

AndrewPrice said...

Kit, Lincoln killed state government and the Tenth Amendment -- "all power not given to the Feds remains with the states."

Before Lincoln power resided in the states and the feds only had limited power to handle foreign affairs and basically regulate disputes between the states. Lincoln changed that and after his administration all power resided in the Federal government. Essentially, the Tenth Amendment got flipped on its head and became "all power not taken by the Federal government remains with the states."

He basically destroyed the structure of the constitution by inverting it.

FDR would then come along and basically wipe out the 9th Amendment -- "power not given to the Feds remains with the people," by inverting that too -- "all power not claimed by the Feds remains with the people."

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, That's right, there's no secret thinking here, this is open "conventional wisdom." This is like a cult constantly repeating, "Waldo healed the sick." At some point, it just becomes a fact, even though it isn't. And the fact it's done by people who are considered apolitical and respectable, and that it's done so constantly, is what makes it work.

It's a much more effective way to create groupthink than what Orwell wrote about.

PikeBishop said...

As far as the politics of film critics, I have always wondered how Frank Rich, Rex Reed and others could actually write reviews with Michael Moore's penis constantly in their mouth.

AndrewPrice said...

PikeBishop, Apparently, they find a way? LOL!

Individualist said...


I would posit there was a further eroding of the Founding Father's experiment between Lincoln and Roosevelt.

This was the ammendment that made Senators elected by the masses and not appointed by state legislators. This erased teh point of the Senate which was to give the state governments a strong voice in Federal Legislation. I can't remember when it occured but it was sometime after Lincoln but not much.

Individualist said...

Gee and when I saw the trailers and saw Speilberg was the director I thought it would be filled with liberal propaganda. Maybe it still is Rex just does not like that flavor totalitarianism.......

I think another code word for "has the correct liberal ideological narrative" is "nuanced".

Any rate when do we have to start refering to Lincoln as the George W Bush of the 19th century. I must of missed that day's mandatory Two Minutes of Hate announcements.....

AndrewPrice said...

Indi, I'm not as worried about that one as other people because I don't think the states would be picking different people than get sent in any event. But you are correct that it is another erosion.

What's interesting is when you study US legal history, you see real shifts in each of the periods where things changed. And in each instance, the power shifts from the states to the feds, and then from the Congress to the White House. Essentially, under the guise of getting the country through difficult times, the courts have pushed us toward a President-run country.

AndrewPrice said...

Indi, My guess is that Speilberg wanted to create something apolitical in the hopes of it becoming consequential. And someone like Rex is so far gone that he sees apolitical as wrong.

Anonymous said...

Regarding the recent movies about the Civil War Era, perhaps my favorite one was The Conspirator, by Robert Redford, I enjoyed it a great deal because it gave a decent direction and acting to adapting what I experienced as a play in Middle School about the Assasination Conspirator tribunals following the Lincoln assasination. The film was well done in capturing the nostalgia, and conveying the perspective of her lawyer. Were the conspirators all guilty? The film left you hanging by the conflicting points it delivered, and by the details left behind. I doubt Robert Redford neccessarily intended to convey a conservative message, but at the same time, it felt great to see a scenario where people really felt frustrated, and really had some personal flaws and confusion regarding a trial in the midst of National Outrage.

I will admit, the biggest factor I do honestly look for in film, especially about historical figures, is the importance of addressing the very real flaws that exist in them. Lincoln did pretty much a great deal that would anger plenty of people today, such as the suspension of habeas corpus, or the moderate, middle ground, that Lincoln often tried to claim in political stances. Lincoln tried to win by claiming himself a moderate in the elections, and he had to be pressured by appeals from others to pull off the Emancipation Proclamation, contrary to the idea that seems to be common nowadays that we can simply expect politicians to do the "right thing". It's a modern myth, and an especially perverse one at that.

I know this is old news, but I will admit that I will miss the criticism and additional review that Larry "Lawhawk" would be giving right now.

Anthony said...

AndrewPrice said...
Kit, Lincoln killed state government and the Tenth Amendment -- "all power not given to the Feds remains with the states."

Before Lincoln power resided in the states and the feds only had limited power to handle foreign affairs and basically regulate disputes between the states. Lincoln changed that and after his administration all power resided in the Federal government. Essentially, the Tenth Amendment got flipped on its head and became "all power not taken by the Federal government remains with the states."
I disagree. I think the Dredd Scott decision killed states' rights by wiping out the Missouri Compromise. Also, its worth noting that the Confederacy forced the issue by kicking off the war.

All Lincoln initially sought was to end the spread of slavery, not to end it where it already existed. If the South had played along slavery would have continued (the North found slavery distateful, but most weren't that bothered by it) for a while (possibly decades) but instead, they choose to trigger a war.

I think states' rights is merely a convenient banner the South fought under to defend slavery. They were perfectly happy when Dredd destroyed the concept of Free States. Its a shame that that slavers' appropriation of the term severely damaged a wonderful concept they never really believed in.

Anthony said...


Regarding Rex Reed, I never really read the guy before (though his name comes up a lot in film blurbs) but judging by this review he doesn't seem to be hiding his bias. If he is successfully lying to people, its only because they want to be lied to.

AndrewPrice said...

Anthony, He doesn't hide his bias, he just doesn't admit it and that makes him (in the eyes of the liberal world) "apolitical."

It's like this NFL writer I despise, Peter King, who openly claims to be apolitical and will tell you that he never talks politics and that he's a moderate who can see all sides.... and then pimps Al Gore's film or whines about the lack of gun control or lack of support for unions or marvels that anyone would support the rich white Romney. The problem is that liberals take his claim to be apolitical at face value and they will never call him for being political.... even as he's deeply political. So he spreads all this liberal crap in his articles and the liberals say, "see, even moderates believe this."

In fact, if you want real irony, you will see a ton of liberal commenters who attack him for being "conservative" because he's old, white and claims to be apolitical... they don't even see that he's doctrinaire liberal down the line.

This is the problem with a guy like Rex. It would be like me being able to say, "I have no biases whatsoever" and thousands of people believing that as I spit out conservative opinion after conservative opinion.

Conservatives need to start calling these people on this or they will just let the problem continue as moderates read columns like this and somehow don't see the political manipulation going on.

AndrewPrice said...

Anthony, I don't disagree with your take on Dredd Scott, but it really was the whole era that pushed things over the top -- as usual, it's not just one event or one person. But in the end, Lincoln was the guy who presided over a real breaking of the states -- not just the Southern ones, but the Northern ones, and he was pushing that agenda. This was the era when everything changed in the relationship between the states and the federal government.

And I do agree that the South latched onto the state's rights issue as a pretext to protect slavery. They had no love for state's rights before that. It's unfortunate that basically the core of what made our constitution what it was got destroyed in the fight.

AndrewPrice said...

obiwan, I think we're talking at cross purposes. My point isn't that it's wrong to include such things, far from it. My point is that there is no reason to make sure that you always balance out the good with the bad. This has become the method of the cynical deconstructionist school of the left -- never allow a presentation of any moment in America that doesn't show the worst aspects of America.

Thus, if you're going to do a film about linking up the continental rails, you must include bits showing whites abusing blacks and Chinese. If you're going to show Jefferson writing the Constitution, you must show him raping a slave. Etc. It has become a matter of practice on the left to tear down everything they don't like by requiring that all of its ugly side be shown as well.

At the same time, they simply do NOT allow any negative information about people they like, such as the Kennedys or FDR to be shown. That is how you propaganda works... smear the bad guys, lionize the good guys.

T-Rav said...

Andrew, nuance is kinda required for my line of work. Anyway, I wasn't sure how much leeway was allowed in critiquing Lincoln, so I thought I'd keep it simple.

Kit said...

What Lincoln did was ensure that states could no longer use Secession as a form of extortion (which they were prone to doing pre-war*) or nullifying federal laws as they saw fit. You had an abuse of the 10th Amendment.

He didn't invert it, he made clear that the states, while they are to a certain extent autonomous, they are part of the UNITED States. I would say it wasn't until the 20th century that the federal government started abusing this.

Licnoln did not "kill" the Founder's vision of the country. He strengthened it. He established that we are United, not a loose confederacy where states can obey only the laws they see fit and only recognize the elections they want to.
He simply curtailed an abuse of the 10th Amendment by the state. I would argue that it wasn't until 20th Century and men like Wilson and FDR that the federal government began to abuse its role.

Lincoln's problem was states trying to rogue, our problem is a rogue federal government.

You did have a massive ramping up of federal spending but it largely declined after the war.

*New England during War of 1812 and the south multiple times over slavery.

Kit said...

"Thus, if you're going to do a film about linking up the continental rails, you must include bits showing whites abusing blacks and Chinese. If you're going to show Jefferson writing the Constitution, you must show him raping a slave. Etc. It has become a matter of practice on the left to tear down everything they don't like by requiring that all of its ugly side be shown as well.

At the same time, they simply do NOT allow any negative information about people they like, such as the Kennedys or FDR to be shown. That is how you propaganda works... smear the bad guys, lionize the good guys."

Just ask Joel Surnow.

Kit said...

"And I do agree that the South latched onto the state's rights issue as a pretext to protect slavery. They had no love for state's rights before that. "

Well, at the risk of sounding a bit condescending, those were the smartest two sentences I ever heard from a conservative who criticized Lincoln for destroying state's rights.
You have no idea how shocking this is.

They often have an annoying tendency to make the South into some type of libertarian paradise and they were just innocent entrepreneurs up against the evil big government and set up a free, independent Confederacy where every soldier had undying loyalty to the cause.
You know, one that was a single-party state, that nationalized industry* under the banner of "state socialism" (!), imprisoned people without habeas corpus like Lincoln did.

Also, as I was writing this. I realized something: The South had every problem the Colonies had when they were rebelling and then some,. You had an incompetent pol leadership, currency not even worth the paper it was printed it, and a group of states who were having problems working together for a common goal.
And in the last year of the war, the Confederate Army, was in a state very similar to the Russian Army in late1916-17 and the German Army in 1945. Or the Iraqi Army during the 4-day Ground war of Desert Storm 91.

Also, if any of this seems incoherent it might be because I am writing around midnight. I could be relaying my belief Toy Story Trilogy is the Best Movie Trilogy.
So, who knows?
Complete and total disintegration. Mass starvation, mass desertions.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, I'm a fan of nuance actually, I'm just not a fan of nuance to evade truth.

AndrewPrice said...

Kit, The problem is that the South has become a symbol. Conservatives see it representing the 10th Amendment and liberals see it representing slavery which they want to dump in the lap of conservatives, and neither side really looks at the reality. The South was hardly an example of the kind of place conservatives like. It was protectionist, it was a cleptocracy where the ultra-rich controlled everything and everyone else was dirt poor and powerless, and it violated fundamental rights on a grand scale. And it didn't latch onto the idea of state's rights until it needed a way to justify its own behavior. Prior to that, it worked hard to impose its own views on the rest of the country -- and not only on the issue of slavery, but also on issues like tariffs and industrialization... it wanted no competition.

I don't agree about Lincoln though. He did a lot more than just fight the war and bring the South back in line. He basically remade the country as a centralized country and he ignored the constitution whenever it served his political purposes. Did he had a noble purpose? Sure, but that doesn't change the fact that he forever remade the country. And the groundwork he laid opened the door for everything that was to come by way of further power grabs. After Lincoln, the 10th Amendment really was dead -- and not just in the South, but throughout the country.

Individualist said...


It is interesting you bring up tariffs because as I understand it that was the kinder that started the war. the north was becoming industrialized and wanted tariffs to bolster their manufacturing. This was a problem since England would then exact tariffs on imports from America, namely Cotton. This is also why England was an ally of the south during the war and had they ended slavery on the first day of their succession may have received enough support from England to win the war since the issue of slavery was the one thing that stropped England from sending troops.

I think it would be more useful if History books focused a little more on the nature of tariffs and trade in the states at that time. I think it would even give a better understanding as to why the Slave trade survived in America when it was eliminated in England prior to that. In the end all Wars are about economics.

Anthony said...


The Civil War started shortly after Lincoln took office and he was murdered roughly a week after it ended. I don't see how one can view his actions apart from the war.

I think Lincoln's actions are defensible because they might very well have been the only way to keep the Union together. Countries ripping themselves in half and thoses halves going to war are by no means uncommon, but they tend to require extraordinary measures.

Anthony said...


I had always read/heard that the UK stayed largely on the sidelines during the Civil War (trading with both sides) only picking a winner after the outcome was no longer in doubt.

AndrewPrice said...

Anthony, What I'm saying is that setting the war itself aside, and just looking at the other actions he took, you will see that he changed the relationship between the states and the federal government. If I just said "he changed the relationship between the states and the federal government," then people think, "yeah by forcing some back into the union." But that's not what I mean. What I mean is that the centralized power on issue after issues even vis-a-vis the northern states. Those things are what killed the states.

AndrewPrice said...

Indi and Anthony, My understanding is that Britain favored the South, but refused to commit because they wanted to see if the South could win first.

Anonymous said...

Andrew, I do feel that we're crossing purposes on this one, but I personally have an axe to grind with some of the films I see depicting history, not good to admit, but it's true. Politicians often aren't spontaneous in their actions, numerous actions of Lincoln, for example, were pressured to him. My feelings are that people should realize that at least pushing and suggesting a politician to do something can go a long way. It arguably did with Lincoln.

I also don't have much disagreement with you on the biased reviewer Rex, compares the film too much, I would say, to his political ideas right now, which is not very tasteful, IMHO

Anthony said...


I agree that Lincoln's wartime actions impacted all states, not merely southern ones, but my position is that those actions were taken in the context of the ongoing civil war.

For example, the need to pay for the war necessitated the creation of the first federal income tax (it should be noted that the Confederates had a similar tax to pay for their army).

AndrewPrice said...

Anthony, That's true. And like I said, it may have been justified, but the fact is it still happened. Income tax, confiscation of private property, creation of new federal powers, etc. None of those things reversed themselves. Now you could say, "well, Lincoln would have reversed them after the war," which is fair, but doesn't really change the fact they weren't reversed.

Again, I don't blame Lincoln alone. This was the first era where everything changed and that fed into the next one, which fed into the next one: Civil War, Progressives, FDR, 1960s... that's how we went from a federal system with the power in the people to a centralized system where power resides in the Presidency ("The Imperial Presidency" I think they call it.")

AndrewPrice said...

obiwan, Again, I don't disagree with you at all and maybe someone as complex as Lincoln needs to be seen in his full complexity to be understood. I just find it troubling that the left beats this drum of sanitized and sentimental in all cases except when people they alike are involved... then they consider presenting negativity to be an outrage.

Kit said...

I'm still gonna defend Lincoln.

Let me start with a quote "I will not say I have guided events but that events have guided me."*

Lincoln was responding to a major threat to the United States. Again, he was faced with the potential Balkanization of the country. He was facing a domestic threat against the country like nothing any President has faced before or since.

He had to make sure the Union stayed united and that no state would try to break up the Union for so light a reason (they lost an election).

Were their side effects that would not be seen until generations after he died? Perhaps. But one must look at the ailment he had to cure.

And federal funding decreased massively after he left. It wasn't really until the days of Wilson and FDR that you saw the massive (and permanent) build-up of the size of the federal government.

*I may have mangled it a bit but that is essentially what he said.

Kit said...

"I just find it troubling that the left beats this drum of sanitized and sentimental in all cases except when people they alike are involved... then they consider presenting negativity to be an outrage."

And you can portray great men as flawed humans without diminishing their greatness. Look at the magnificent mini-series JOHN ADAMS or the TV-Movie THE GATHERING STORM (about Winston Churchill). Both movies have main characters with serious character flaws. Adams often seems to have a perpetual stick up his butt and Churchill at times can seem like an arrogant narcissist who is upset because no one realizes just how awesome he is.

But both men still come across as heroes and great men -despite their flaws.

But they want Wilson, Kennedy, and FDR portrayed as saints without blights.

Also, notice this. Its a literary example but it fits. Tolkien and Lewis feature politically incorrect depictions of ethnic minorities and feature women in traditional roles and are branded as irredeemable racists and sexists. whose works are completely tarnished because of said racism.

Horror writer H.P. Lovecraft was a full-blown and bitter racist whose stories were often racial allegories supporting the racist ideas of Eugenics and sometimes depict minorities (especially blacks) in far worse ways than Tolkien or Lewis ever dreamed of doing (see, and whose depiction of women was, well, not exactly "progressive" (as the left would say). They either don't exist or are a happy meal for some unimaginable creature to impregnate.
I cannot imagine Lovecraft writing an Eowyn or Lucy.

But, his defenders protest, he simply had "views of his time".

But Tolkien, who said "I have the hatred of apartheid in my bones", is condemned as a racist for un-PC depictions of minorities ("swarthy men") and that his Germanic fantasy is a Germanic fantasy with all whites.
Ditto with Lewis.

Its a massive double-standard.

Lincoln is evil for his (by today's standards) racist views but Wilson, who praised BIRTH OF A NATION as "true", is in the clear as having "views of his time".

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Nice takedown of Reed's idiotic review, Andrew!
And funny. Like MST3k except on stupid film critics. I like it. :^)

Excellent comments on Lincoln. Nothing to add that hasn't been said.
I always enjoy reading comments from you guys because you actually have a grasp and understanding of history (and reality) which makes the discussions here all the more refreshing!

AndrewPrice said...

Thanks Ben! It is kind of MST3k isn't it? LOL!

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