I don’t think it is too hard to see what Obama is up to here.His self-flattering view of himself as a new Lincoln is a key. Some writers (e.g., Gary Wills) have famously argued that Lincoln redefined the American constitution and the meaning of the Declaration of Independence through his rhetorical initiatives at Gettysburg, in the Second Inaugural, and elsewhere. I think it is clear that Obama is seeking, with the aid of his rhetorical gifts, to redefine the goals and roles of the government in American life–he sees himself as Abe Lincoln II, creating a historic shift in how we conceive of ourselves as a nation and a political community.For this reason, Obama welcomes our economic recession, wishes to amplify our fear of it, and to thus use it as version of the American Civil War–as an opportunity to create wide-ranging and deep changes in the political community.God help us. Honest Abe wasn’t as disingenuous and deceptive over the entire course of his life as Obama is in a single speech, press conference, or titling of a piece of legislation. Obama seems to think that the purpose of rhetoric is to distract the nation from what he is actually doing.