In Fiscal Cliff Victory, Obama
Should Look to U.S. Grant

By Jim Berlin

With nervously-smiling women in the background to represent the “middle class,” Barack Obama made a surprise speech on national TV Monday and everyone thought it was to announce the successful conclusion of fiscal cliff negotiations.

Nope. Obama went on TV solely to say negotiations were still ongoing, but Republicans were about to agree to tax hikes because he had them over a barrel. And like Bubba the Prison Sexual Predator, he was going to do what Bubba does when he has someone over a barrel.

The audience was composed solely of raucous middle class supporters, and he spoke down to them as he always does when addressing alleged inferiors: dropping the “g” in words ending in “ing,” throwing in a bunch of “gonnas” and even a Y’all. He ended the talk by saying if Republicans thought spending cuts would be a big part of deficit reduction, “they have another thing comin’. That’s not how it’s gonna work.”

The speech accomplished nothing other than to infuriate Republicans, jeopardize the negotiations, and give the president another chance to gloat over winning the election.

It reminded me of another victory, one that played out in 1865 when Gen. Robert E. Lee surrendered to U.S. Grant at Appomattox. Grant wore an Army private’s uniform with only shoulder straps displaying his rank. He was gracious to Lee…

Your officers may keep their horses and sidearms, Grant told him, and no one in the Rebel army would be charged with treason. Lee politely asked for more:

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All of his cavalry and artillerymen privately owned their horses, he said, and he would appreciate it if they could keep them. It would help with the plowing when they got back home.

Grant borrowed a pencil and wrote out the order on the spot.

As Gen. Lee mounted his horse and rode off with his entourage, a great cheering broke out from the ranks of Union troops. Gen. Grant immediately ordered them to silence.

“The confederates are now our countrymen,” he said, “and we do not want to exult over their downfall.”

Mr. Obama might want to study that incident. It is about what great men do.