Honest, It Wasn't Abe's Comment

Friday, February 16, 2007

During floor debate on the Iraq war yesterday, Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska) quoted Abraham Lincoln as advocating the hanging of lawmakers who undermine military morale during wartime.

"Congressmen who willfully take action during wartime that damage morale and undermine the military are saboteurs, and should be arrested, exiled or hanged," Young declared.

One problem: Lincoln never said such a thing.

Conservative scholar J. Michael Waller did, in an article for Insight magazine in December 2003. Waller later told Annenberg Political Fact Check that the supposed quote "is not a quote at all" but that a copy editor mistakenly put quotation marks around his words, making them appear to be Lincoln's.

Annenberg has counted 18,000 references to the Lincoln "quote" by those who typically support President Bush's war policy.

After he left the House floor yesterday, Young found out that -- whoops -- he had mistakenly put words in Abe's mouth. His spokeswoman, Meredith Kenny, says the congressman took the quote from an article he read in the Washington Times on Tuesday.

"Now that he's been informed these are not the actual words of Lincoln, he will discontinue attributing the words to Lincoln. However, he continues to totally agree with the message of the statement," Kenny said. "Americans, especially America's elected leaders, should not take actions during a time of war that damage the morale of our soldiers and military -- and that is exactly what this nonbinding resolution does."

And no, Kenny said, Young was "not advocating the hanging of Democrats."

-- Mary Ann Akers

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