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master of the game the political genius of Abraham Lincoln

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Sunday, Jun. 26, 2005 The Master of the Game By Doris Kearns Goodwin Lincoln 's political resume was meager, his learning derided, and his election considered a stroke of luck. And yet the prairie lawyer from Springfield would emerge the undisputed captain of his distinguished Cabinet, earning the respect of colleagues who had originally disdained him, and become, as Whitman wrote, "the grandest figure yet, on all the crowded canvas of the Nineteenth Century." As it turned out, unbeknownst to the country at the time, Lincoln was a towering political genius--not because he had mastered the traditional rules of the game, but because he possessed a remarkable array of emotional strengths that are rarely found in political life.…show more content…
EMPATHY Perhaps the most important of his emotional abilities was empathy--the gift of putting himself in the place of others, to experience what they were feeling, to understand their motives and desires. Even as a child, he was uncommonly tenderhearted. He once stopped and tracked back half a mile to rescue a pig caught in a mire--not because he loved the pig, recollected a friend, "just to take a pain out of his own mind." As a young member of the state legislature, he was known for his insight into the opposition 's strategy. Even after leaving the body, he would be called upon by his Whig colleagues not only to predict the moves that their Democratic opponents were likely to take, but to spell out the countermeasures needed to block them. Unusual among antislavery orators in the 1850s, Lincoln sought to comprehend the Southerners ' position through empathy rather than castigate slave owners as corrupt and un-Christian men. He argued, "They are just what we would be in their situation. If slavery did not now exist amongst them, they would not introduce it. If it did now exist amongst us, we should not instantly give it up." It was useless, he explained in another address, to employ "thundering tones of anathema and denunciation," for denunciation would be met by denunciation, "anathema with anathema." Far better, he believed, to reach into the heart of one 's opponents--which, of course, he memorably did in his
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