I have been extremely loath to write any post about the upcoming inauguration, mostly because I feel like there are far too many people that know so much more than me – and not just the analysts and journalists, but also even some of my classmates in school, friends from college – that I’ll just look like an idiot.
As a history major, I have never subscribed to the idea that any event at a particular time is unique, and that past lessons are largely irrelevant. I say “largely” because I can’t imagine any historian not agreeing with the whole “those that don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it” mantra. At some point history is relevant. But I have run into some through my intellectual travels (ie – dinner with friends) where the point has been made that the circumstances surrounding one event in history make it so unique that it is not applicable to current events (or other events in the timeline of history). So Waterloo happens just once and is not relevant other than as a concept.
A lot has been made about President-elect Obama’s incoming administration and the comparison to Abraham Lincoln’s 150 years ago. The “Team of Rivals” where Obama and Lincoln both built cabinets composed of his biggest political rivals, the national crises each has/had to face while entering office, and of course even the fact that both are from Illinois.
However, while these are not only already over exaggerated and hyped up at least for the sake of media and today’s tagline-hungry population (myself included to an extent – I certainly read the headers on my RSS feeder a lot, even when I think the article looks good), the differences are, in my opinion, so different that it merits consideration as a unique situation, where one cannot even compare the tremendous challenge facing Lincoln fairly.