Steven Spielberg's Lincoln captures why we love politics


It's widely said that Daniel Day Lewis is the greatest screen actor of his generation. It's also widely said that Abraham Lincoln is the greatest President in American history. Is there any relationship between these ostensibly disparate points? The New York Times' peerless David Brooks thinks so.

In his most recent column, he reviews Steven Spielberg's film Lincoln. It ideally captures, he writes, the mixture of principle and pragmatism that marks all the great political careers. Here's a flavour: "It [the film] shows that you can do more good in politics than in any other sphere. You can end slavery, open opportunity and fight poverty. But you can achieve these things only if you are willing to stain your own character in order to serve others — if you are willing to bamboozle, trim, compromise and be slippery and hypocritical.

The challenge of politics lies precisely in the marriage of high vision and low cunning. Spielberg’s “Lincoln” gets this point. The hero has a high moral vision, but he also has the courage to take morally hazardous action in order to make that vision a reality."