Lincoln, Grant & Patton
“My great concern is not whether you have failed, but whether you are content in your failure.” Abraham Lincoln
“The art of war is simple. Find out where your enemy is. Get at him as soon as you can. Strike him as hard as you can, and keep moving on.” General Ulysses S. Grant
“Better to fight for something than live for nothing.” General George S. Patton
With the exception of a small minority within the House and Senate, the current state of the GOP is precarious at best. The party is unfortunately inundated with the likes of Mitch McConnell, Susan Collins, Mitt Romney, John Thune, John Cornyn, Lindsay Graham, Lisa Murkowski, et al. Feckless cowards and useful idiots one and all. Unfortunately, we suffer the same fate on the state level in Maine as the GOP has allowed the Progressive left to seize control of this state.
At the very least, an opposition party exists to provide a firewall against hegemonic power. The current GOP does nothing of the sort and appears to exist for no other reason than to serve as a distinction without a difference. Our wounds are self-inflicted as the following bills totaling $6T in new debt passed with GOP complicity: The American Jobs Plan, Infrastructure Bill, American Rescue Plan, Government Funding Bill, and Inflation Reduction Act.
The GOP mindset is completely antithetical to what Lincoln, Grant and Patton respectfully called for in their aforementioned quotes. Again, with the exception of a small minority, todays GOP is most assuredly content in their failure, refuses to acknowledge or fight their enemy and prefers to live for nothing.
Lincoln was elected President November 6, 1860. By December 20 of that year, South Carolina was the first southern state to secede from the Union. Followed shortly thereafter by Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana and finally Texas on February 1, 1861. The Confederate States elected Jefferson Davis as their president on February 9, 1861. Five weeks after Lincoln’s inauguration on March 4, 1861 the Confederate’s fired upon Fort Sumter April 12, 1861 and the Civil War was on. Over the course of the next four years Lincoln went through a total of four Generals-In-Chief.
General Winfield Scott served in his position as General in Chief until November 1861. Lincoln replaced him with General George McClellan in November 1861. Lincoln replaced McClellan with General Harry Halleck in March 1862. Lincoln replaced Halleck with General Ulysses S. Grant in March of 1864. Grant served in his position until wars end in April 1865 with the subsequent Union victory.
Unfortunately, for Lincoln and the Union, the Generals-In-Chief that preceded Grant were soul mates of today’s GOP. A combination of fear, appeasement, capitulation, incompetence and hubris. The Union missed two major opportunities to end the war, one in 1862 at Antietam the other in 1863 at Gettysburg. Serendipity played a role at Antietam as General Robert E. Lee’s battle plans were lost by a courier and fell into the fortuitous hands of General McClellan and the Union forces. Despite having advanced knowledge of Lee’s troop numbers and location, McClellan delayed the attack.
The subsequent battle at Antietam in September 1862 did result in a Union victory but the delay did allow for Lee and his troops to regroup. As Lee retreated back to Virginia and despite orders from Lincoln to pursue and destroy the Confederate forces and effectively end the war, McClellan allowed Lee to escape and prolong the bloodshed. Lincoln was furious and the war continued for another three blood soaked years.
Fast forward to July 1863 at Gettysburg. Union forces under General Meade defeat Confederate forces under General Lee. As Lee and his troops retreat to Virginia they are trapped by a swollen Potomac River. Instead of pursuing Lee, as instructed by Lincoln, Union General Meade delays the pursuit and allows the Confederate forces and Lee to escape, regroup and live to fight another two years. Once again, Lincoln is furious at another lost attempt to end the carnage.
It was not until Lincoln promoted General Grant to General-In-Chief in March1864 that he found someone willing to fight. Grant infused his spirit into the entirety of Union forces who took the fight to Lee and the Confederates as opposed to constantly fighting defensive battles. Grant allowed General Sherman to March through the south from Atlanta, Georgia and up through the Carolinas. The newly infused spirit brought the war to an end in April 1865 as General Lee surrenders to General Grant at Appomattox.
Operation Overlord (D-Day) commenced on June 6, 1944 with US forces storming the beaches of Omaha and Utah. The British and Canadians landing at Gold, Juno and Sword beaches. Unfortunately, the best general within the US and allied forces was on the sideline as punishment. General George S. Patton was sitting in England after being reprimanded by General Eisenhower. As a result, the Allied forces were bogged down after the D-Day landing making little if any progress with their advance.
Patton and the Third Army became operational on August 1, 1944. Taking the fight to the Germans, Patton moved his Third Army at breakneck speed. As a result, by August 12, 1944 the Germans were effectively trapped by US and allied forces in Argentan, France. A pocket was created that trapped approx. 175,000-200,000 desperate German troops retreating east to Germany. As a result of fear or ignorance, General Eisenhower, General Bradley and General Montgomery ordered Patton to stop his troops.
The pocket was eventually closed by August 19 with approx. 50,000 Germans taken prisoner and approx. 10,000 killed. Unfortunately, the delay in closing the Falaise Gap by feckless leaders allowed the bulk of German forces to escape. This prolonged WWII for another eight months. Had Patton been allowed to proceed, WWII most likely would have ended in the fall of 1944. The Battle of the Bulge in December 1944 would never have taken place and saved 100,000 US lives. Had Patton been allowed to proceed millions of Jews would have been liberated from Nazi death camps. More Jews would be gassed from late summer 1944-April 1945 than the previous four years combined.
Feckless leadership during the Battle of Antietam in 1862 and Gettysburg in 1863 prolonged the Civil War. Hundreds of thousands died needlessly as a result. Feckless leadership on the part of the Allied forces in August 1944 prolonged WWII. Millions died needlessly as a result. Author Victor Davis Hanson describes Patton’s leadership as an “audacity born of moral certainty” in his book ‘The Soul of Battle.’ The same can be applied to both Lincoln and Grant during the Civil War.
This country and especially the GOP are in dire need of leadership, “audacity born of moral certainty.” The feckless cowards and useful idiots that comprise todays GOP leaders most assuredly lack ‘The Soul of Battle.’ Out of fear or ignorance, the present day GOP appears content in their failure. We continue down this path at our own peril. During his First Inaugural Address in 1981, President Reagan implored us “to act worthy of ourselves” and “to do what must be done to ensure happiness and liberty for ourselves, our children and our children’s children.” During his Second Inaugural Address in 1985, President Reagan posed a simple question…
“If not us who? If not now when?”
Given the current state of the GOP, both statewide and nationally, we should be asking ourselves the same question.