Hillary Clinton was speaking in Chicago yesterday, and this happened:
A senator from Illinois named Lincoln? There might’ve been, if a guy named Stephen Douglas hadn’t gotten in the way. Lincoln served a term in the House of Representatives, but not the Senate.
I never know how much to make of it when politicians trip over history like this. When it’s something said in passing, it’s hard to tell if the person just misspoke, or if it’s really a case where an eminent public figure genuinely has no idea what they’re talking about.
To me, the really interesting thing here isn’t the flub about Lincoln, but the way Clinton has assimilated the whole Team of Rivals thing into her personal history, with herself cast in Seward’s role as the frontrunner who becomes a member of the victor’s cabinet. It shows you how deeply Doris Kearns Goodwin’s book has penetrated into the way American political leaders remember and make use of history.