According to Santayana…

“Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”

Thanks to Christopher Wren of Madison who sends the following:

“I more than suspect already that he is deeply conscious of being in the wrong – that he feels the blood of this war, like the blood of Abel, is crying to Heaven against him. That originally having some strong motive – what, I will not stop now to give my opinion concerning – to involve the two countries in a war, and trusting to escape scrutiny, by fixing the public gaze upon the exceeding brightness of military glory – that attractive rainbow that rises in showers of blood – that serpent’s eye that charms to destroy – he plunged into it, and has swept on and on till, disappointed in his calculation of the ease with which (that nation) might be subdued, he now finds himself he knows not where.

How like the half insane mumbling of a fever-dream is the whole war part of his late message! His mind, tasked beyond its power, is running hither and thither, like some tortured creature on a burning surface, finding no position on which it can settle down and be at ease.”

That nation was Mexico and that snippet is from a speech delivered by Abraham Lincoln in 1848 attacking President Polk for the Mexican War.

Chris Wren says, “The remarks bear frequent repetition, if only because they starkly emphasize the modern Republican Party’s complete loss of – more accurately, eager abandonment of – its moral and political soul. Excerpts from Lincoln’s speech have floated around the Internet since before Bush sent the first troops into Iraq. I like this selection from Garry Wills’s book.”

Source: Garry Wills, “Lincoln at Gettysburg: The Words That Remade America,” pp. 177-78 (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1992).

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