What would television attack ads look like in the age of the telegraph?
Last month in Burlington, Vermont, President Obama made a serious charge against the GOP, which likes to note that it's the party of Lincoln. "The first Republican president, he said, "couldn't win the nomination for the Republican primary right now."
The folks at FlackCheck -- a nonprofit at the University of Pennsylvania that debunks false political advertisements -- are having some fun with the notion, although they've been at it since November. Could Honest Abe actually win an election in 2012? And if he ran, how would his opponents go about smearing, tarring, and otherwise besmirching the sixteenth president? Well, if 1864 Democratic standardbearer and recently sacked Union general George McClellan had hired somehow hired Lee Atwater (reaching across the Mason-Dixon Line and the space-time continuum), he might have made an ad something like this one, which is perfectly timed to coincide with the current flap over the "war on women." Would you vote for this man?
Relatedly, don't miss The Atlantic's special coverage of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, featuring stories the magazine published at the time.