Sunday, November 12, 2006

Lincoln Bicentennial Commission playing with Lincoln Logs

In the latest print edition of the National Review, author John J. Miller writes about the bicentennial of Abraham Lincoln's birth in 2009. A commission to commemorate the milestone was appointed about a decade ago, and Miller is not impressed with what the group has accomplished.

From his article:

"We're still in the early stages," admits Harold Holzer, a co-chairman of the commission along with Sen. Dick Durbin and Rep. Ray LaHood, both of Illinois. "We may be a bit behind schedule." Time is running out. The commission expects the Lincoln festivities to begin in February 2008--a little more than a year from now.

(I visited the Lincoln birthplace site in Kentucky last month, and was reminded about this by the staffers there.)

More from Miller:

The panel's fundamental problem is its composition, its 15 commissioners are appointed by the president or Congress. A few of the lend the body some gravitas. Holzer is an impresario among Lincoln enthusiasts, Gabor Boritt is a prominent scholar, and Frank J. Williams is chief justice of the Supreme Court of Rhode Island and the author of well-regarded books on Lincoln. The rest are a mishmash of politicians, academics, and patronage appointees. Jean T. D. Bandler is a social worker whose claim to fame is that she is the daughter of Paul Douglas, who was a senator from Illinois in the 1950s and 1960s. Sen. Jim Bunning, the Kentucky Republican, holds a seat on the commission, but rarely attends its meetings.

Bunning is possibly the worst Republican senator in Congress.

Let's take a look at some of the other commission members.

Representative Jesse Jackson, Jr.--Why was he appointed to the commission? Anyone? I guess for the same reason Durbin, Bunning, and LaHood were. Lura Lynn Ryan: Yes, the wife of the soon to be imprisoned former governor of Illinois. I know why she was appointed, George insisted on it. Julie Cellini: Her husband is Bill Cellini, a bi-partisan piggish feeder at the trough of Illinois government.

Yes, I'm aware Mrs. Cellini is the on the board of directors of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum, and that Mrs. Ryan is the former president of the museum's foundation, but no sober-minded person can possibly believe that they got those positions without consideration of who their spouses were.

Last words from Miller:

The money isn't exactly rolling in. The commission refuses to say publicly how much cash it has raised, but as of several months ago, it had not even reached six-figure territory, let alone millions or tens of millions of dollars. "If you have an imagination deficit, a financial deficit will follow," says a source familiar with the commission's workings.

February 6, 2011 will mark the centennial of Ronald Reagan's birth. As far as I know there isn't yet a commission appointed to celebrate the Reagan centennial. I'm sure something will come to pass--and if it does, it will go well. Nancy Reagan won't tolerate a failure.

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