WBEZ | Louie C.K. http://www.wbez.org/tags/louie-ck Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en The Lincoln Effect: Are we taking advantage of Honest Abe’s good name? http://www.wbez.org/blogs/alison-cuddy/2013-02/lincoln-effect-are-we-taking-advantage-honest-abe%E2%80%99s-good-name-105682 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Screen Shot 2013-02-22 at 12.09.09 PM.png" alt="" /><p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="480" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/Tbzfvef0aE0" width="853"></iframe></p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F80375342" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>This month many Americans celebrated what would have been the 204th birthday of Abraham Lincoln.</p><p>But if recent popular culture is any indication, our 16th president is still alive and well.</p><p>Daniel Day Lewis&rsquo; strong performance as the president in <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lTA5rdz51XI"><em>Lincoln</em></a> may help Steven Spielberg&rsquo;s film sweep the Oscars -- it&rsquo;s up for 12 awards.</p><p>Ford brought him back to sell cars. In <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NklipvTBf64">the ad,</a> which premiered at the Superbowl, Lincoln strides out of the mist, wearing tinted shades, with his coat tails flapping in the wind.</p><p>And in a <em>Saturday Night Live</em> skit, comedian Louie C.K. depicts Lincoln as a henpecked husband, running late for the theatre. You can watch the entire segment above.</p><p>Now maybe it&rsquo;s just the view from Illinois, but doesn&rsquo;t it feel like we&rsquo;ve gone too far?</p><p>Do we really appreciate Honest Abe? Or are we taking advantage of him?</p><p>&ldquo;The fact that he&rsquo;s in the public domain doesn&rsquo;t necessarily mean we should use him as a poster child for, you know, a sale for clothing or furniture in February,&rdquo; says Carla Knorowski, CEO of the <a href="http://alplm.org/">Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Foundation.</a></p><p>As a person charged with protecting his legacy, Knorowski said Lincoln needs an agent, and in fact she already considers herself the &ldquo;self-appointed agent of Abe.&rdquo;</p><p>But Knorowski says it&rsquo;s not just her. Everyone can find something to like in Lincoln, the everyman.</p><p>She gave me a laundry list of his attributes: That he was &ldquo;self-taught, had a sense of fairness, and honesty&rdquo;.</p><p>She also referenced his skills as a poet, inventor and &ldquo;one of our greatest humorists&rdquo;.</p><p>Still, some of our tributes to Lincoln can seem kind of funny, like we&rsquo;re just adding his name to something to make it sound better.&nbsp;</p><p>I&rsquo;ve deemed it the &ldquo;Lincoln Effect.&rdquo;</p><p>Here&rsquo;s an example.</p><p>In 2004, Donald Peloquin, the longtime Mayor of Blue Island, tried to get a bunch of southwest suburban municipalities <a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2004-10-28/news/0410280320_1_home-rule-municipalities-sales-tax">to actually secede from Cook County.</a></p><p>He and his band of rebels thought Cook was too big, too wasteful, and neglecting suburban taxpayers.</p><p>So they wanted to break off and create a new county. To help sell this controversial idea, he decided to call it Lincoln.</p><p>I asked Peloquin why, and he told me the answer was simple.</p><p>&ldquo;The State&rsquo;s motto is the land of Lincoln. And there&rsquo;s no Lincoln County. 103 counties and not one of them named Lincoln&rdquo;.</p><p>So naming his county Lincoln would help people get on board with the idea?</p><p>&ldquo;Well, I...yeah sure, partially,&rdquo; Peloquin said &ldquo;But the big thing is the credibility and the honesty and integrity that go with the name&rdquo;. He added, &ldquo;I think the ability to say we&rsquo;re going to start a new county and create it on the basis of what Lincoln promised and that&rsquo;d be honest and truthful government&rdquo;.</p><p>Peloquin&rsquo;s secession bid was a non-starter. But another effort he supports, which also has a Lincoln connection, is still up in the air.</p><p>For decades people have been talking about building a third airport in the southern suburbs.</p><p>But politics, environmental concerns, and competing airport proposals always got in the way.</p><p>Then in 2005 it became the pet project of former Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr.</p><p>Last year, Jackson Jr. <a href="http://www.wbez.org/sections/water/will-county-pushes-peotone-action-while-jacksons-absent-101654">led a ceremonial groundbreaking at the site</a>, even though no plans for the airport have been finalized.</p><p>Still, in his comments Jackson Jr., said &ldquo;Today&rsquo;s turnout clearly shows that the will of the people is to build our own future by constructing the Abraham Lincoln National Airport.&rdquo;</p><p>Well, we all know what happened to Jackson, and so far, invoking Honest Abe hasn&rsquo;t helped the airport either.&nbsp;</p><p>So is it a stretch to keep Lincoln&rsquo;s name attached to it?</p><p>When I put the question to Donald Peloquin he said &ldquo;I guess if you look at it that way. You know I look at it as it&rsquo;s for the people. And he was always for the people&rdquo;.</p><p>Sure. <a href="http://myloc.gov/exhibitions/gettysburgaddress/pages/default.aspx">And of the people and by the people.</a></p><p>But arguments for airports or state pension fights are a long way from Lincoln&rsquo;s high ideals and stirring oratory.</p><p>When you look at the state of Illinois politics you have to wonder are we really hitting the Lincoln bar all that often?</p><p>Maybe not but Peloquin says it&rsquo;s still worth conjuring the spirit of Lincoln &ldquo;because we have to turn it around.&rdquo;</p><p>Peloquin is not the only one looking back to Lincoln for a political fix. Spielberg&rsquo;s movie projects the same fantasy.</p><p>But maybe, even in the land of Lincoln, it&rsquo;s time to move on.&nbsp;</p><p><em>Follow Alison Cuddy on <a href="https://twitter.com/wbezacuddy">Twitter</a> and <a href="https://www.facebook.com/cuddyalison">Facebook</a></em></p></p> Fri, 22 Feb 2013 11:22:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/alison-cuddy/2013-02/lincoln-effect-are-we-taking-advantage-honest-abe%E2%80%99s-good-name-105682