Politicos will recall that much was made of Barack Obama’s admiration of Abraham Lincoln during and just after the 2008 Presidential campaign.
In particular, Obama was said to have been influenced by Doris Kearns Goodwin’s book, “Team of Rivals,” which studied Lincoln’s management style.
Clearly, in picking former adversaries like Hillary Clinton for his Cabinet, Obama showed that he subscribes to a similar philosophy.
Almost two years later, the parallels with Lincoln’s administration look apposite, indeed.
Unfortunately for Obama, the historical figure he is starting to most resemble isn’t Lincoln, but George B. McClellan, Lincoln’s top general during the early stages of the Civil War.
Like Obama, McClellan was a hugely popular figure; also like Obama, he lacked the “go for the jugular” instinct needed to vanquish a mortal enemy (Lincoln famously said of McClellan, “if General McClellan does not want to use the army, I would like to borrow it for a time”).
Of course, Obama’s foe isn’t the Confederacy.
Rather, it’s Wall Street — and the rigged, stupefyingly complex financial system it designed and (still) sits astride.
The turning point in the Civil War only arrived once Lincoln installed Ulysses S. Grant and William Tecumseh Sherman as his top generals (after running through a series of others).
It remains to be seen who will be the U.S. Grant and William Sherman of financial reform, circa 2010.