Lincoln "masterly inactivity"Drew says:
"Masterly inactivity" seems to be a much overused phrase in the Lincoln literature. I thought it originated with Russel McClintock's recent book but a google books search finds it used in the same context in McPherson's "Battle Cry of Freedom" and MANY earlier books, and within an emancipationist context in Quarles's "Lincoln and the Negro".
I'm sure there are some fairly sober, almost respectable writers who have lapsed into this kind of cliche-driven treatment of their subject (Lincoln) without realizing it. Lincoln, the subject, has this effect on people.
The ridicule and scorn Lincoln endured in life is now endlessly reprised - triggered if you will - by the provocative behavior of his admirers. One is struck how Lincoln attracts "masterly" triteness, vaudevillian re-enactment, and all variety of flamboyant, baroquely craptastic phenomena.
There's no comparable figure in kitsch historiography.