Abraham Lincoln is boring and ugly and lacks charm, and nobody should vote for him. He is too tall to be president, and he doesn’t smile enough. Shouldn’t we expect a president to be fun? How can anyone expect a one-term congressman this ugly, this calm, this boringly intelligent, to be anything but a lousy president of the United States? He behaves like a grown-up. Who wants a grown-up in charge? Not me.
His presidential campaign is the butt of jokes in the press. Does he really expect us to report honest news about him when his opponent’s writers are so much better at inventing colorful lies that sell newspapers? Lincoln feeds us nourishing food, but the other side gives us better liquor. Mr. Lincoln hasn’t even answered the disturbing charges that he is descended from baboons (on his father’s side).
How can we believe anything else the man says while these charges linger, unchallenged in long, difficult denials that we can then pick apart in lengthy entertaining articles with faked photographs? Can he prove he is not descended from baboons? Saying that these charges originate with disreputable, lying, grafting, underworld cronies of his rival only beg the question. If he’s so smart, why hasn’t Mr. Lincoln devised anything as colorful or outrageous to throw at the other candidate? Is he too decent to be entertaining? Is he too dainty to play ball? And what does that say about the rest of us? Is he insulting us? What has he ever done for us? How can anyone vote for someone who is unwilling to throw mud? How else are we to sell newspapers?
How can we have any confidence in a candidate for president who is unwilling to engage in lies and smears to get into office? All that he has offered in return are facts. And they are ugly, hurtful facts, which embarrass his opponent. Mr. Lincoln’s whole argument rests upon the well-known charges that the candidate of the other party is irresponsible, spendthrift, reckless, uninformed, arrogant, incompetent, and charming. Everybody knows that, and nobody cares.
The fact that Mr. Lincoln’s opponent pulled strings to keep his sorry hide out of the war with Mexico, that he avoided his sworn obligations repeatedly, that he is a serial business failure who traded on inside information to sell stock, that he wasted the best years of his manhood treating women poorly and stiffing employees, only makes us love him more.
That Mr. Lincoln’s opponent is a nincompoop, an empty suit, and a selfish, self-satisfied cad works beautifully to his advantage, because it confirms Mr. Lincoln’s unattractive reputation as a goody-goody and a poindexter. It only demonstrates the cleverness of Mr. Lincoln’s opponent’s campaign, which we can all admire.
Everybody hated Mr. Lincoln in the debates. He knew everything and said it well. His answers were to the point, but he used too many large words and explained too many complicated things in a way that made them seem complicated. Nobody likes a know-it-all.
Mr. Lincoln’s voice could peel paint. Did you know that he disappointed thousands of people who had come out in the rain to hear a speech, and had stood around for hours in the wet, by delivering a two-minute speech that he’d written on the back of an envelope? Everybody was terribly disappointed by this, and most of the papers had to fill the additional space by reprinting a fictionalized biography of Lincoln’s baboon ancestors that had already run the day before.
As soon as television is invented, you will all be sorry. Then you’ll know how right we were to endorse the man who was more fun and looked better in pictures. Mr. Lincoln’s handsome opponent will look better on stamps and currency.
The fact that Mr. Lincoln’s opponent masterminded notorious smear campaigns, stooping to lows of political half-truth and calumny that have forever coarsened and fouled the way politics operates in this country, only serves to prove that he is the kind of leader our people deserve. —J. W. Booth, special to The Washington Gazette (and Slaveowners’ Digest)
Eric Hanson is an illustrator and writer living in Minneapolis. This month marks the 100th anniversary of the dedication of the Lincoln Memorial