Again it happens. The election of 1864 was invoked as a pop culture topic, this time by a caller to the Bob Grant radio talk show on WOR radio in New York City between 6:00 and 7:00 pm last night.

This 1864 election has the makings of a permanent political cliche, except that the central "lesson" or "meaning" of the event has not yet stabilized. And as for Lincoln's opponent McClellan, none of the talk show hosts has any idea he was a war Democrat or a conservative. Karl Marx and Friederich Engels backed Lincoln over McClellan, which should be all a talk show host needs to know.

There is an unusual poem that alludes to the Marx/Lincoln connection - and the election - written by the eccentric Mississippi personality and U.S. vice presidential aspirant Charles Granville Hamilton:

McClellan with the innocence of prewar
Democracy thought that he had a chance
And that votes would be counted as they were cast.

That is not the lesson of 1864 that is likely to gel in the current cycle of allusions.