I was told by White House Press Secretary John G. Nicolay, that “Mr. Lincoln needed a little respite after recent news of a loss in our great civil war.”
“John, I’ve been waiting months for this interview.”
“He’s at Murphy’s Bar next door to the theater.”
It was a bleak and rainy night when I walked through the front door of the bar. Lincoln rarely drinks, but the dreary weather, and a costly loss in the war have beset the sixteenth president with dark clouds.
“JIM… my ol’ drinking buddy!” Lincoln says, recognizing me. “Murph, give this man a shot of your finest whiskey.
“Jim, pull up a stool and tell me how the future’s going 150 years after me; good, I hope!”
“I’m afraid there’s much turmoil in the country, these days, Mr. Lincoln.”
“Tell me about it,” he says, looking down at his glass. “I lost more than 12,000 men at Fredericksburg. Had to fire that damn General Burnside; had almost twice as many troops as Lee and still lost the battle.”
“Well, our battles are more with the truth than anything else.”
“With all the information at his disposal, I’m sure your president correctly apprises the people of the facts.”
“I’m afraid this president has a problem with the truth and facts.”
“According to fact-checkers, Mr. Trump lies more than any other president in modern times.”
Lincoln pounds his glass on the table signaling for another. “How many legs does a dog have if you call his tail a leg?”
I shake my head, “Five?”
“Four!” Lincoln says, forcefully. “Saying that a tail is a leg doesn’t make it a leg. Jim, no man has a good enough memory to be a successful liar.”
“He’s been pretty successful, so far,” I say.
“What’s he like?” Lincoln asks. “I’m a little removed from your politics. Does he speak to the people often?”
“Oh, he speaks, mainly through tweets.”
“You mean he communicates through homing pigeons?”
“No, it’s more electronic,” I explain.
“Like the telegraph,” Lincoln nods.
“Well, a modern equivalent.”
“That’s good!” Lincoln adds. “How often does he speak to the people?”
“Sometimes several times… each morning,” I say.
“Each morning?” Lincoln knocks back his hat. “Between constituent requests, the 13th Amendment and the war, I don’t have time to speak that often. Isn’t he immersed in the business of the people?”
“That’s a question a lot of people are asking. He’s on vacation in Florida, right now.”
“Florida, huh? I wasn’t on the ballot there in 1860.”
“He does, however, have other issues on his mind,” I say.
“What issues could be more important than those of the people?” Lincoln asks.
“An investigation by the special counsel looking into Russian interference in our last election,” I tell him.
I show him a news link on my iPhone. “The deputy attorney general announced indictments against 13 Russian conspirators aggressively involved in swaying the election in favor our current president and disparaging his opponent with false information.
“We’re awaiting a final determination by the special counsel to see if the president’s campaign schemed with the Russians,” I add.
Lincoln looks depressed again. “Jim, you cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today.”
After a final slug of whiskey, he adds, “America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.”
“You may be right, sir.”
He then turns more sanguine. “My dream… is of a place and a time where America will once again be seen as the last best hope of earth.”
“Do you have any advice for President Trump?” I ask as he walks to the door.
“Yes. You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.”