Monday, December 04, 2006

Team of Rivals

I just finished reading Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin. What an amazing book! I have never read a Civil War book or Lincoln biography like this before. How does a politician deal with rivals and an overwhelmingly difficult situation? In the case of Lincoln, you invite your rivals to work with you in the Cabinet. You use the skills that brought them to the top of the political world to work on the nation's problems.

While reading the book I couldn't help but compare Lincoln to more recent presidents. Like Bill Clinton, Lincoln could empathize with everyone he meant. Over and over the book recounted instances where he put the welfare of others over his own. Yet unlike Clinton, Lincoln had mastered himself. He had an iron self-discipline, from which he never deviated.

George W. Bush is famously single-minded, but unwilling to change. Lincoln always recognized his own errors and changed course when he was shown to be wrong. He was also at pains to take the responsibility for his mistakes as he strove to correct. them.

I found that I didn't want the book to end, since I knew how it ended. This book makes you realize how important it is to have the right leader at the right time. Also, no one can predict who will be the leader, or from where he will come.