-By Warner Todd Huston
Hillary Clinton is an Illinois girl, right? Oh, and Hillary Clinton is the smartest woman in the world, isn’t she? Then how come she thinks Abraham Lincoln got elected to the Senate before he became President, when he never did?
Hillary was in Chicago for a meaningless, love-fest appearance with former Obama White House Chief of Staff and current Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel where both professed a deep love and respect for each other but otherwise offered nothing of substance to their audience. But during this schmaltzy blubber fest Clinton waxed historical for the crowd.
“I actually write about Rahm in the book,” Clinton said from her spot as featured speaker. “I asked him not to read it before we sat and did our interview! But it was in the very first chapter, the chapter I rightly call ‘Team of Rivals’ because that’s what it was in the beginning. A senator from Illinois ran against a senator from New York just as had happened way back with a senator from Illinois named Lincoln and a senator from New York named Seward. And it turned out the same way.”
Only, in 1860 when Lincoln (who would have been “the Senator from Illinois” in Hillary’s example) and William Seward (a Senator from New York) ran against each other for the GOP nomination for President it was not two senators in the running.
The facts is, Lincoln never became a senator from Illinois. He ran, sure, but lost his election in a famous loss to Stephen Douglas. Further, Lincoln had a famous series of debates called the Lincoln-Douglas debates just prior to the election. In fact, those several debates are the most famous debates in US history as along with his Cooper Union speech, they helped bring the little known Lincoln to national attention and that prominence led to his becoming president in1860.
Lincoln was sort of a dark horse candidate for president in 1860, too. Most political insiders expected Seward or Salmon P. Chase (a Governor from Ohio at the time, also a past US Senator himself) to easily take the GOP nomination–the latter pair were the most powerful Republicans in the country at the time. It was due to Lincoln’s consummate skill as a campaigner that he won. He spent weeks writing letters and conferring with powerful Illinois Republicans in the run up to the GOP convention–held in Chicago that year–and he engineered his nomination from Springfield. This was something his rivals didn’t spend much time doing as they went into the convention with a lot of assumptions but little groundwork.
Anyway, one would think that the “smartest woman in human history” would have known all this important US history surrounding one of the country’s most famous presidents, especially one from her own home state. Wouldn’t you?