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Johnson, Westmoreland, and Lincoln: Not exactly your three peas in a pod

Remember how Obama was all "Team of Rivals" about his cabinet when he took office? And of course he also was a tall skinny guy from Illinois with a modern version of the "born in a log cabin" back-story. Well, be thankful that Obama didn’t grow a beard and start wearing a stovepipe hat, too. ...

-mrsraggle-/flickr
-mrsraggle-/flickr

Remember how Obama was all "Team of Rivals" about his cabinet when he took office? And of course he also was a tall skinny guy from Illinois with a modern version of the "born in a log cabin" back-story.

Well, be thankful that Obama didn’t grow a beard and start wearing a stovepipe hat, too. We should beware of presidents who identify overmuch with Abraham Lincoln. In 1968, Lyndon Johnson relates in his memoir, he gave a letter to Creighton Abrams that began, "One hundred-odd years ago President Lincoln found a general. I have been lucky enough to find two field generals. In the last three months you have fully exploited the situation created during the last three years by your predecessor, General Westmoreland." (523, The Vantage Point)

It was a nice thing to say, but delusionary, representing, I think, a terrible assessment of the situation in the war — and also of the talents of Westmoreland, who I think had more in common with McClellan than with old Grant.

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com. @tomricks1

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