Friday, February 5, 2010

Books - Team of Rivals

While we see the benefit of solidarity in the face of trouble (especially dog whispering), we do not always see eye to eye. Putting two opinionated, ambitious, and intelligent bitches in a room together (or asking them to agree on blog content) can cause conflict. We have always been able to move past this conflict, however, and allow our differences to create a team stronger than the sum of our individual greatness.

Maggie wanted to post on the epidemic of canine obesity this morning, Sammi's opinion won in the end.

While we have heard that humans are capable of teamwork, we understand that they find it far more difficult than canines. To better understand how even the most self interested humans form, maintain, and leverage interpersonal relationships we devoured Doris Kearns Goodwin's Team of Rivals on the recommendation of our Aunt Didi. While not enlightened enough to be a dog owner, Didi seems to make good book recommendations. She was right in this case!

We have never understood the human fascination for Presidents. Presidents, to us, seem to be an odd aberration of humanity - they change their opinions, character, and persona based on the whims of a fickle public. They groom more than a Sharpei in a dog show, and spend their entire life overtly begging others to love them - we know the only thing worth begging for is food. Despite our pre-conceived notions of what a President is, Abraham Lincoln comes across as the quintessential midwesterner. He is completely centered, unflappable, and remarkably calm. His affable personality, and endless capacity for defusing potentially explosive interpersonal situations with stories were unmatched. Some of Lincoln's cabinet members don't come across so sympathetically though.

President Lincoln, for example, chose Edward Stanton to run the War Department during the Civil War. Stanton's capacity to organize and endless energy made him a highly effective leader. But, as an attorney, Stanton publicly humiliated a younger Lincoln with his callousness and arrogance; reconciliation is a broad theme in the book. Not only did Lincoln have to reconcile with his most bitter rivals - and bring them into his cabinet to create a political coalition that could be sustained throughout the war - he had to find a way to reconcile two national factions so contentious, their fighting would lose over half a million lives.

We also enjoyed the context for American slavery and the discussion of the struggle to Emancipate American blacks. We did not know, for example, that Lincoln's first attempt at emancipation would have compensated slave owners and sent all freed slaves to colonize Liberia - many intelligentsia at the time didn't believe that the two races could live together in peace (this is not unlike the way current intelligentsia, as manifested on National Public Radio, feel about conservatives). American Blacks at the time, however, showed a surprising amount of patriotism for the nation that treated them so poorly. They not only expressed a strong connection to their newfound nation, but took up arms en masse to fight for the Union after Emancipation. Interestingly enough, it was the argument of military necessity that allowed Lincoln to actively pursue a policy of Emancipation.

We feel we have a lot in common with President Lincoln. We take our positions as leader of the family pack very seriously, not unlike how Abe took his responsibility as leader of America in a harrowing time. We even think that Maggie looks a bit like this ruggedly handsome president, below is a photo of her looking her most presidential.

We give this book an enthusiastic four paws up. And, perhaps while we are in this position, a kind reader may want to rub our bellies.


Anonymous said...

The bitches smoke good POTUS. Please, go ahead, take a hit on this K9 friendly maxim.

"I care not for a man's religion unless his dog and cat are better off for it." - Honest Abe Lincoln

The truth is revealed: Presidents are down with the bitches. Jiggy.

オテモヤン said...
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