1) A room of bearded, wig-wearing, angry white men quarrel over a big decision.
2) Lincoln lightly clears his throat.
3) Immediately, everyone is silent.
4) Lincoln tells a meandering story about a crime, dinner party, or historical event.
5) There is an appreciative, though subdued, titter of amusement.
6) Lincoln states his view on the matter.
7) The scene changes before we can be sure that his view has been accepted, but we assume it has.
To be fair, director Steven Allan Spielberg (The Last Gun, Fighter Squad) [Editor's note: Ben has likely mistaken Fighter Squad for Saving Private..never mind...he's telling me to stop wasting time and just publish as is.] augments this formula as the movie trudges along, making Lincoln’s throat-clearing louder, his stories gruffer, and the scene transitions more rapid. Two-and-a-half hours later, we see the end credits.
Thankfully, the performances are so good that the repetition works. I’d watch Daniel Day-Lewis’ Lincoln fold laundry for two-and-a-half hours, let alone tell bumbling anecdotes. With Lincoln, Spielberg backs off, and his actors shine.