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Food, Lincoln and The Inauguration

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So much has ado been made about the whole Lincoln/Obama parallels. A lot of it is embraced by the President-Elect himself: from the bible he'll be resting his right hand upon to the food he and everyone else will be eating at the post-inauguration festivities. Earlier last week the LA Times ran a piece that went deep into the menus served in the past at presidential inaugurations, how they reflected the President as a man and the times he faced: cold chicken salad for FDR, a diversity-conscious "minority dinner" for Eisenhower (which included gefilte fish and Greek salad), and for Obama a collection of wild game and root vegetables: both seasonal and representational of the type of cuisine that Lincoln preferred. And as long as we're talking about the inauguration it's also worthwhile to mention the weird commemorative crystal bowls Biden and Obama will be given tomorrow. Really?

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But back to the Lincoln comparisons: there are so many! It's astonishing. Has any incoming president ever been compared so much to one of his predecessors? No other names come to mind. If you type "Obama Lincoln" into eBay's search engine it brings up a little over 80 results of people trying to capitalize on the fever. There's a weirdly dark and impressionistic double portrait of Lincoln and the President Elect arm-and-arm, a cartoon of the two men trading respect-knuckles, a pin of Lincoln wearing an Obama campaign shirt and even a pocket watch dial with head shots of the two Illinois politicians. The high (low) point of all this merchandise are the dozens of conflated Lincoln/Obama portraits by pop artist s on eBay available both in black and white and Worholian technicolor. If all these comparisons are as accurate as they are voluminous, we're in for a legendary—if not prosperous—eight years ahead.

Image of Ron English print shot in public by flickr user stefan.klocek and used under a Creative Commons License.

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