MSNBC host Chris Jansing on Monday found the "parallels" between Abraham Lincoln and the newly reelected Barack Obama to be "fascinating." The anchor interviewed Gloria Reuben, liberal actress and co-star of the just-released Steven Spielberg biography of the 16th president. Jansing compared, "...You have a president who is newly elected, who faces a divided divided Congress and a divided country." [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
Couldn't such a vague analogy be made of many presidents, including George W. Bush? Jansing introduced the Lincoln actress by pointing out, "You're a social activist. You've been very big in [the] pro-choice [cause]. You've been a supporter of Barack Obama and the AIDS movement." She added, "You must find these parallels fascinating." It's unclear how supporting abortion can be connected to Lincoln.
After all, many consider the fight against abortion to be the modern day abolition movement. The great emancipator said of slavery:
But if the negro is a man, is it not to that extent, a total destruction of self-government, to say that he too shall not govern himself? […] If the negro is a man, why then my ancient faith teaches me that ‘all men are created equal’; and that there can be no more moral right in connection with one man’s making a slave of another.
Reuben touted the comparison as "fascinating and really uncanny." Noting that Spielberg has been considering making the movie for a decade, she continued, "So, obviously, at that point, nobody had an idea, any idea that Barack Obama would be president...I think the reelection of Obama is a great sign of hope for the future and those kind of divisions being resolved."
Reuben reiterated, "But the parallels are really unbelievable how timely this film is."
In a clip from Meet the Press, Doris Kearns Goodwin, whose book the film is partially based, pointed out that the movie follows Lincoln as he pushes for the passage of the 13th Amendment.
Goodwin compared, "The whole movie is about the idea that in a session of Congress after the election in 1864, they have to get this amendment passed and they have to do everything they can."
As the rollout of Lincoln continues, look for more comparison between Lincoln, a Republican who fought slavery as an affront to human dignity, and Obama, a Democrat who zealously pushes abortion.
A transcript of the November 12 exchange follows:
CHRIS JANSING: A huge debut for the new film Lincoln. The stunning portrayal of the 16th President's last months in office raked in $900,000 on just 11 screens this weekend. The film is based on the book Team of Rivals by presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin. And you cannot escape the parallels to today.
DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN: The whole movie is about the idea that in a session of Congress after the election in 1864, they have to get this amendment passed and they have to do everything they can. At one point, he says, "I'm clothed by immense power and I'm going to have you use it to get these votes, no matter what you have to do."
JANSING: Joining me now is the star of the movie, social activist Gloria Reuben who plays Elizabeth Keckley in Lincoln. It's great to have you here.
GLORIA REUBEN: Thank you, Chris. Great to be here.
JANSING: We'll agree that Steven Spielberg is a genius.
JANSING: But I don't know that even he could have predicted that at this moment when it's being released, there were these parallels, that you have a president who is newly elected, who faces a a divided Congress and a divided country. You're a social activist. You've been very big in pro-choice. You've been a supporter of Barack Obama and the AIDS movement. You must find these parallels fascinating.
REUBEN: Fascinating and really uncanny, because Steven has wanted to make this film for about ten years now. So, obviously, at that point, nobody had an idea, any idea that Barack Obama would be president. So, to have filmed in Richmond, Virginia, 150 years after the beginning of the Civil War, at a time specifically when the parallels-- the division in this country politically and still racially are pretty significant, I mean, I think the reelection of Obama is a great sign of hope for the future and those kind of divisions being resolved. I think we're definitely on the path to having that happen. But the parallels are really unbelievable how timely this film is.