For anyone who thinks we live in especially partisan, divisive times, let me remind you that on a scale of partisanship and divisiveness, things really aren't that bad right now. My evidence? Here is a video of the President visiting the Lincoln Memorial today, facing a crowd that is just thrilled to be there and obviously feeling very lucky to be part of a presidential visit. They also know that it is due to the President's efforts, and the efforts of Congressional leaders in resolving the budget last night, that the Lincoln Memorial is open for business today.
For more pictures, check out the Obama diary website.
Last week I happened to visit the Nixon library in Yorba Linda, after reading about how they updated the Watergate exhibit to reflect a more balanced view of a truly divisive time. That was probably why, when I saw the pictures today of Obama's triumphant visit to the Lincoln Memorial, I was reminded of the strange story of Nixon's pre-dawn unannounced visit to some anti-war protesters camped out at the Lincoln Memorial. In contrast to Obama, Nixon was awkward and hesitant, trying but failing to connect with these protesters. In contrast to the happy crowds at the Lincoln Memorial today, the young people back in 1970 were angry and outraged. It's good to remember that even though nowadays we still see lots of signs of suspicion and hate, they are nothing compared to the suspicions and hate that existed during the Nixon era. Here is Oliver Stone's re-creation of this bizarre event. We may live in interesting times today, but not nearly as scary as some of the times we have lived through in the past.