Obama & Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln suspended civil liberties and wielded an unprecedented amount of power during his presidency. Lincoln declared a blockade on Southern ports three months before Congress had declared war, he spent without Congressional approval, and he suspended habeas corpus and imprisoned suspected Confederate sympathizers without trial. Lincoln was essentially a king, which is awesome by the way.
The fact is that Abraham Lincoln would not bat an eye at the Patriot Act, and the amount of executive power during the Bush administration pales in comparison to Lincoln's. In fact, Lincoln's practice of imprisoning suspected Confederate sympathizers without trial is essentially a form of McCarthyism.
Since McCarthyism is such a toxic word, it is probably necessary for me to specify that I do not mean to criticize Lincoln. Many of his decisions certainly fall into a grey area, but at the end of it all the Union was preserved and Congress regained power over the executive branch.
It seems to me that people love to compare Obama to Lincoln because people love lavishing laudations of the man, but they must grope for something to praise since Obama has been elected president before he really accomplished anything concrete. Comparing him to one of our greatest presidents seems to have filled this void. What disturbs me most is how much people praise him before he has even been sworn into office. Could we at least wait until he has been president for a few years before busting out the champagne and celebrating him as a president of Lincoln's caliber?