In the most recent Presidential debate, the Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, invoked the 2012 Steven Spielberg film, Lincoln. I remember watching and enjoying the film, quite literally, in a packed theater in Northern Ireland and was glad for the opportunity to think back to what the movie taught me. It wasn’t surprising that Spielberg told part of Lincoln’s story well, exposing the man’s flaws or struggles and including Lincoln’s tenuous family relationships during the height of political tension. Dialogue played a central role in the film, which is probably as it should be with such a brilliant rhetorician as Lincoln. One of the surprises of the film was, of course, that it was Republicans who led the charge to free the slaves. It was the sort of film that gave me goosebumps, that even made me proud (and also saddened) to be an American. Good stories, if we let them, will break our hearts while giving us enough hope to carry on. Though I haven’t followed through, I left the theater that day wanting to read Doris Kearns Goodwin’s Bible-of-a-book, Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln.
I’m grateful to Punchnel’s for publishing an essay I recently wrote about Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the younger Boston Marathon bomber. It is my position that he should not receive the death penalty. Here is a teaser from the essay:
“In a world with as much evil and violence as this one, I can certainly understand the appeal of the death penalty and can’t really fault someone for supporting it, particularly if they are closely connected to a murdered victim. Those family members and friends of victims from the marathon that day are important stakeholders in this trial, and they deserve our ongoing support.