Column: ‘Lincoln’ film portrays politics of principle for unprincipled age

Steven Spielberg’s “Lincoln” couldn’t have come out at a better time. With congressional leaders hunkered down in “fiscal cliff” negotiations, the film offers a useful example of politics based on principle.

President Abraham Lincoln did what was necessary to achieve his goals of saving the union and abolishing slavery, and that included arm-twisting, campaign contributions and doling out patronage jobs to sway wavering representatives.

“I am president of the United States clothed with great power,” Lincoln told his Republican allies in the House as he pushed for approval of the 13th Amendment to abolish slavery. It was “a measure of such importance,” Lincoln said, that the votes “must be procured.”

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