Obama looks to Lincoln as an example for his presidency

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President Obama enacted historic health care legislation Tuesday in a ceremony that looked more like a birthday party than a bill signing. Democrats celebrated the culmination of a year-long debate on insurance reform that Mr. Obama made a focal point of his first year in office.

On Saturday Mr. Obama made an eleventh-hour plea to House Democrats ahead of their landmark vote. As he has often done through his young presidency and as a presidential candidate, Mr. Obama turned to Abraham Lincoln for motivation. "I am not bound to win, but I'm bound to be true. I'm not bound to succeed, but I'm bound to live up to what light I have," Mr. Obama told lawmakers, quoting the nation's sixteenth president. He acknowledged that the debate on health care had been a difficult one but urged undecided democrats to do what he said was right. "We've got middle class Americans, don't have Medicare, don't have Medicaid, watching the employer-based system fray along the edges or being caught in terrible situations. And the question is, are we going to be true to them?"

It's not the first time Mr. Obama has been inspired by Lincoln. In February 2007, he announced his candidacy at the Old State Capitol in Springfield, Illinois, where Lincoln spent much of his time. "It is because men and women of every race, from every walk of life, continued to march for freedom long after Lincoln was laid to rest, that today we have the chance to face the challenges of this millennium together, as one people - as Americans," Mr. Obama said in his remarks to supporters....

Since taking office the President has mentioned Lincoln often, even praising his efforts to promote transportation initiatives like high-speed rail. "President Lincoln was committed to a nation connected east to west even at the same time he was trying to hold North and South together, he was in the middle of a civil war," Mr. Obama said in April, referring to Lincoln's historical achievement of creating the first transcontinental railroad.

The President has said one of his favorite places to go when things get tough is the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, calling the historic landmark a reminder of what the nation has been able to accomplish and overcome. These days the President has little time to leave the White House for local field trips, but as he told lawmakers Saturday, as commander-in-chief, he has access to a host of books on Lincoln that he can turn to for guidance.F

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