Robert Gates trots out phony Lincoln quotation in his new book
During the height of the U.S. war in Iraq, right-wing supporters of Bush administration policy attributed a bogus quotation to Abraham Lincoln in their effort to impugn the patriotism of congressional critics of the conflict:
Congressmen who willfully take actions during wartime that damage morale and undermine the military are saboteurs and should be arrested, exiled or hanged.
Not only did Lincoln never say any such thing (see HERE), but he was a war protestor himself during his time in Congress. His CRITICISMS of the Mexican War in 1848 greatly angered the pseudo-patriots of his time and indirectly cost him his seat in the House of Representatives.
When the fake Lincoln quotation became more and more widely debunked, the right-wing noise machine for the most part abandoned it. Besides, it didn’t fit well with increasing public opposition to the war in Iraq.
But former Defense Secretary Robert Gates — who’s no doctrinaire right-winger himself, mind you — seems not to have received the memo regarding the phony Lincoln quotation.
In his new book “Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War,” Gates writes disparagingly of comments made by certain congressional critics of U.S. policy in Iraq:
The worst of these comments came in mid-April from the Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid, who said in a press conference, “This war is lost,” and “The surge is not accomplishing anything.” I was furious and shared privately with some of my staff a quote from Abraham Lincoln I had written down long before. “Congressmen who willfully take actions during wartime that damage morale and undermine the military are saboteurs and should be arrested, exiled or hanged.”
We can argue about the wisdom and accuracy of Reid’s remarks. And there are lots of other points to be made about Gates’ book (points I’m currently researching for a subsequent post), but you’d think the editors of his book would have double-checked the Lincoln quotation long before the tome was published just this month.