Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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Lincoln as gay--yea or nay?

Philip Nobile offers us this absolutely devastating destruction of the late C. A. Tripp’s The Intimate World of Abraham Lincoln. Since Nobile was, for a time, Tripp’s collaborator, his insider’s account should be required reading.

Here’s Rick Brookhiser’s highly critical review of the same book from Sunday’s NYT. Over at NRO’s "The Corner", Brookhiser adds this:

The Weekly Standard has a piece by Philip Nobile, accusing C.A. Tripp (author of the book I reviewed) of plagiarizing him, and of bending evidence. The question of plagiarism I leave to the courts. Bending of evidence will be obvious to anyone who reads Tripp’s book. But the wierdness in Lincoln remains.

Two thoughts: First, I wonder which major media outlet will run the first favorable review of the book, or, indeed, if any will? Nobile’s claims of plagiarism and intellectual dishonesty--this early in the game--are formidable obstacles to the willingness of any serious reviewer to praise the book. Second, I think I’ll stick with my old standby Lincoln book--William Lee Miller’s Lincoln’s Virtues--in my "Moral and Political Leadership" class.

Update:Winfield Myers of Democracy Project has much more here.

Discussions - 4 Comments

In re Philip Nobile’s article:

AS ridiculous as Larry Kramer’s phone call may sound to anyone outside academia, I am sure the fanatical zealot’s experiences with advocacy-oriented "scholars" led him to believe that pleading for Lincoln as a gay "role model" would work. Note also the threat - play ball or we accuse you of being a homophobe. Nothing worse in academia than that - even accuracy should be sacrificed to keep one from being labelled "intolerant."


Nobile’s Weekly Standard article is much stronger than Brookhiser’s review.

Nobile demolishes Tripp as a scholar, while tacitly conceding that the gay-Lincoln thesis is not wholly without evidence. Brookhiser, while criticizing Tripp, makes it clear that Tripp has convinced him that Lincoln was not completely straight.

That said, Brookhiser’s wet noodle is perhaps the best we can hope for in the NYT.


Nobile’s piece might appear devastating if it were the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. But it’s not. He leaves out the most important fact. When he and Tripp parted company, he sought to sell a book of his own asserting that Lincoln was bisexual, drawing upon the same evidence he now seems to mock Tripp for trusting. Nobile’s unhappiness seems to stem, at least in part, from the fact that Tripp was able to get to press first, making any potential book by Nobile on Lincoln’s sexuality seem like old news. Nobile complains in his review that Tripp benefitted from contributions that Nobile made when they were working together. When Nobile--after splitting with Tripp-- tried to sell Oxford University Press "his" book arguing that Lincoln was bisexual, was he not trying to benefit from Tripp’s contributions? Was he not making use of research Tripp did? Tripp invested a considerable amount of money, to help build up the largest data base on Lincoln research materials ever assembled, which he wanted other scholars to benefit from, after his book was done. And other scholars willl benefit from it. I had the good fortune to know Tripp--one of the brightest and most principled men I ever knew. He reached the conclusion, based on the evidence as he read it, that Lincoln’s orientation was more homosexual than heterosexual. Noble reached the conclusion that bisexual was the best description for Lincoln. It is not uncommon for collaborators to disagree over fine details. But it strikes me as disingenuous for Nobile to protest now--much too loudly to be credible--how shocking Tripp’s conclusions apparently are, and how ripped off he feels that Tripp benefitted from his own contributions, without so much as mentioning in his review that he wanted to publish his own book (benefitting from Tripp’s contributions) saying the evidence showed Lincoln was bisexual. Tripp--who succumbed to a long bout with cancer in 1983, two weeks after finishing the draft of the manuscript-- is not here to tell his side of the story. But Nobile--whose past work I always admired--did not tell the whole story in his Weekly Standard review. He was much more forthcoming in an essay he wrote ("Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, Don’t Publish: Homophobia in Lincoln ...") which can be read at the following site:
http://hnn.us/articles/97.ht"Don’t Ask, Dont Tell, Don’t Publish: Homophobia in Lincoln..."

Let me try again to put in the correct link. In the post above, the link is not working. If this does not work, a web search for "Philip Nobile, Oxford University Press" will turn up his account of trying to sell his book on Lincoln’s sexuality toOxford University Press.

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, Don’t Publish: Homophobia in Lincoln ...

http://hnn.us/articles/97.html


"Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell..."

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