“Mr. Lincoln, I’ve been thinkin’…”

This year marks what would be the 200th birthday of Abraham Lincoln, a significant milestone that should hopefully cause many

This year marks what would be the 200th birthday of Abraham Lincoln, a significant milestone that should hopefully cause many Americans to reflect on legacy of one of our greatest presidents.

Lincoln was in fact the first successful Republican candidate for president, and because his life was cut short, historians can only ponder what would have been had he lived. He could have guided the country to a more stable reunification, and likely led a rewarding post-presidential life of writing and speaking about his experiences.

With those former presidents among us, we often see them engaged not only in public affairs and charitable efforts, but also in politics. So what if Lincoln was actually alive to celebrate his 200th birthday? Would Republicans turn to the eldest of its elder statesmen for help? What if the New Jersey Republican Party asked for Lincoln to come into the Garden State to help campaign? I think that the phone call from Chairman Tom Wilson would go something like this:

T. Wilson: Mr. President! So good to speak to you today. How is everything in Illinois?

A. Lincoln: Well, Springfield has gone a bit mishuganah with the Blagojevich fiasco, but we’ll survive.

T. Wilson: Well we have an exciting schedule in New Jersey for you. We’re going to fly you into Philly and first take you into the exurbs outside of Cherry Hill.

A. Lincoln: You know, I was thinking, if I’m going to be near Camden, wouldn’t it be good for me to go to Walt Whitman’s old house? He used to volunteer in the army hospitals during the Civil War, so it’s the perfect place to talk about boosting funding for veterans health care. And we could get a very diverse crowd in Camden and talk about the need for social equality.

T. Wilson: I’m not sure that’s the best use of your time, Mr. President. We’re not polling very well in the urban centers. Plus, veterans programs? We’re not going to rouse our base if we start talking about increasing spending on entitlements.

A. Lincoln: Those ‘entitlements’ are really promises that we make to those that serve in uniform.

T. Wilson: Well you know, no one wants to pay more taxes to fund these government programs. You remember a few years ago when our party controlled Congress? Our House caucus actually took the chairman’s gavel of the veterans affairs committee away from our own Congressman Chris Smith after he tried to increase spending on veterans. How about we just stay on message and stick to the schedule of country club speeches. We were actually hoping that you’d talk about the Civil War itself. Why don’t you tell the story about what you were doing when you first heard about the Union defeat at the First Battle of Bull Run?

A. Lincoln: Well I was actually with a group of school children reading them a book entitled “My Pet Goat.” An aide walked in, whispered in my ear what happened and I immediately jumped to my feet, apologized to the children for having to leave, and quickly assembled my advisors to chart out a responsible plan of action to go after the actual rebels responsible for the violence.

T. Wilson: On second thought, perhaps we just stick to promoting Republican candidates and the need to vote the straight ticket. You know, bash the Democrats. Make clear your disdain for the other party.

A. Lincoln: Actually, I’ve always been more of a “with malice toward none, with charity for all” kind of guy. In fact, when I ran for my second term, my running mate Andrew Johnson was a Democrat, and from a southern state no less. To me, bringing in other voices is the best way to govern.

T. Wilson: In all due respect, Mr. President, times have changed and campaigning means giving an honest difference on the issues.

A. Lincoln: I actually know a thing or two about honesty. When I was young man working in a mill, I once walked for miles to return two pennies to a customer who had been overcharged.

T. Wilson: I once walked the entire A.C. Boardwalk in penny loafers.

A. Lincoln: You’re right. Times have changed. By the way, is there any time on the schedule for me to talk to the Log Cabin Republicans?

T. Wilson: [sigh]

A. Lincoln: Tom? Did we get disconnected?

T. Wilson: Still here, Mr. President. The schedule is pretty much set.

“Mr. Lincoln, I’ve been thinkin’…”