Ta-Nehisi Coates on Obama, Lincoln, and Compromise President Obama has always been dismissive of critics to his left, argues The Atlantic senior editor Ta-Nehisi Coates in The New York Times. Recently, he complained how The Huffington Post would have covered the "compromise" that was Lincoln emancipating only the slaves in rebel territory during the Civil War. "It would have been blistering," he quotes Obama saying. "Think about it, 'Lincoln sells out slaves.'" Obama's thinking holds that opposition must always hold the party line, but looking at the example of the Emancipation Proclamation, Coates finds that "many of Lincoln's most vociferous critics welcomed the Proclamation." Though he personally did not get along with the radicals and abolitionists, Lincoln knew their contribution to the cause. Obama, too, should remember, writes Coates, that he performed well in Democratic primaries because the anti-war left tapped him to make a speech opposing the Iraq war back in 2002. Obama, as a political leader rather than activist, knows he must lead a broad coalition and find compromise. "That mission necessitates appreciating the art of compromise, but not fetishizing it," Coates warns. "Obama would do well to understand that while democracy depends on intelligent compromise, it also depends on the ill-tempered gripers and groaners out in the street. The Party of Lincoln, whatever its present designs, has not forgotten this."
Thane Rosenbaum on Justice and Vengeance Norway must now decide how to deal with mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik in a justice system that normally only allows killers to be imprisoned for 21 years. America has been seeking an outlet for the rage it feels toward Casey Anthony, whom many believed got away with murdering her daughter. "In both cases the attraction of a nonlegal alternative is a powerful one," writes Thane Rosenbaum in The New York Times. "Are these vengeful feelings morally appropriate? The answer is yes--because the actual difference between vengeance and justice is not as great as people think." Legal systems, Rosenbaum says, can be dispassionate, but still must appear morally appropriate and satisfy mankind's natural need to feel avenged. Procedural errors, conflict over "reasonable doubt," and plea bargains made consulting the victims all leave people without justice or revenge. Still, even were Norway to find an "just outcome" for Breivik, the depth of his crimes would no doubt make any result seem unsatisfying.