Barack Obama and Abraham Lincoln "are peas in the same pod," at least in the eyes of Salon.com technology reporter Andrew Leonard.
And just how exactly?
Because "both [were] irredeemably stained by the hard fiscal decisions they had to make to save their nation," Leonard argued in a June 2 "How the World Works" blog post.
To do so, the Salon writer conflated loopy conspiracy theories about Lincoln having been a pawn of European Jewish bankers with complaints Obama faces from conservative and libertarian quarters regarding his spendthrift economic policies.
Leonard seems to suggest there's little if any legitimate critique from the right on Obama's stewardship of federal finances (emphases mine):
[I]f you dig a little deeper on the specific accusation that the Rothschild motivation for starting the Civil War was to take over the U.S. banking system, you suddenly find yourself facing a set of concerns that are surprisingly close to the surface of contemporary political discourse involving the national debt and monetary policy.
Because Abe Lincoln didn't just free the slaves and preserve the Union. He also ended the so-called "free banking" era, and established a national currency in which paper notes backed by the U.S. government were by law considered to be legal tender.
Mainstream economic historians tend to portray the "free banking" or "wildcat banking" era as chaotic and prone to banking panics. Loosely regulated by states, and not at all by the federal government, banks had the power to issue their own currency, resulting in a proliferation of competing bank notes that sometimes weren't worth the paper they were printed on. From this perspective, the passage of the National Banking Acts in 1863 and 1864 marked a welcome step in the maturation of the U.S. financial system.
But whether or not you accept that explanation of history -- and many, many libertarians, led by Rep. Ron Paul, do not -- there was also another clear reason for the consolidation of central government control over U.S. currency. Lincoln had to find a way to pay for his enormously expensive war, and issuing paper currency theoretically backed by government securities was the method he used to do it.
If you listen to some of the more wild-eyed libertarian voices out there, you will find that it is at this point that America really went off the tracks. Abraham Lincoln centralized government control over the money supply! And freedom died. We lost our bearings during the Civil War and have never managed to find our way back.
So of course he's a traitor! And of course some way must be found to transform him into an alien "other."
Remind you of someone else? Some other president who faced a national emergency, borrowed a lot of cash to deal with it, then pushed through major bank reform legislation and found himself immediately tarred as a Muslim socialist out to destroy a great nation? And who now faces an array of contenders for the White House calling for a return to the gold standard, a balanced budget amendment, and the abolishment of the Federal Reserve? It's all connected, man. Abraham Lincoln, the president who ended slavery, and Barack Obama, the first black president of the United States, are peas in the same pod, both irredeemably stained by the hard fiscal decisions they had to make to save their nation.