Saturday, August 22, 2009

My Love Affair With Teddy Roosevelt

Is over.

Having grown up on Long Island, it's difficult to not to know who Theodore Roosevelt was. He was the only president from Long Island, having his residence at Sagamore Hill, and being buried at Youngs Memorial Cemetery, both in Oyster Bay.

So great was this youngest president that not only does he have a monument in Washington DC, but his visage is featured on Mount Rushmore. Theodore Roosevelt embodied the triumph of the individual over anything, by shear will and determination. As much as he came from a privileged background, he had a life where he overcame shortcomings, adversity and tragedy. Anyone who has read his "Man in the arena" speech has heard this synthesized down to it's most empirical and elemental form.

As a young man, Teddy was my hero. He always stood up for what was right, did the right thing, and had the balls to back it up. He was also a person that could be at ease with a ditch digger or a King, and was one of the smartest and best read of the presidents, being in the small company of Jefferson, Lincoln and Washington, hence Rushmore. He was an incredible human being and I wish I could have met him, as we would have gotten along well I think on most levels. But.

The presidency of Barry O has let me reconsider Theodore in the light of progressivism. As much as TR redefined the US in the 20th century, I think BHO wished to do so in the 21st. Moreover, I think TR was misguided if not wrong about being a progressive. I agree with his championing universal suffrage and race relations, but I disagree with his stance on the government's role in people's lives and taxes. TR was the man who laid down the progressive and socialist fuse for his distant cousin FDR to light. For a man that championed the individual, he fomented collectivism. What irony. If I had to suppose why this is, I'd have to guess that may be TR felt guilty on some level about coming from privilege (in which time there was quite a bit more disparity between rich and poor. Our notion of middle class didn't exist then as it does now) or may be at the other end, he was an elitist or social darwinist that thought we should care for those less fortunate through government largesse, as a shepherd tends to his flock. May be both. In addition, may be he got off at the power he envisioned the president and the government could wield in this arena. I've read The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt and Theodore Rex and I still look for answers. May be it's a foibles of being a genius. Let me know if you come up.

This reconsideration of TR has led me to accept him for the man he was, but he never can be my hero again. May be that's ok. Hero worship is such wasted energy and unrealistic anyway and as much as I feel disappointed on some level, he still was one of the greatest people to be president. In fact Barry O isn't worthy to polish his shoes and in spite of their progressive kinship, they are not matched well at all. How that mountebank became president annoys the hell out of me, but that is another story.

Thank you for reading this blog.


Left Coast Rebel said...

Seeing that you had a post up about TR made me curious.

Would the Right Guy mention that TR was a progressive?, I thought.

It seems that you are well read in your history, as you point this out.

I still admire the man as you, google some pictures of his hunting adventures when you get a chance!

The Right Guy said...

I actually have a book he wrote: Ranch Life and the Hunting-Trail, which is over 100 years old. It's a good read. My mother collected books and bought it for me.

Anonymous said...

It's shortsighted to fault TR for being a self described progressive. No one could have known the results of his wrong ideas back then because they hadn't been tried yet, Unlike the maggot Brakabama, he had no desire to enslave people. He simply wanted government to make people's lives better. I give him a pass on that front. All in all, he was a great American and a hell of a role model. Were he around today, you can bet your ass he would eschew the mantle of "progressive" precisely because of what the term has come to mean.

That,s my take anyway.


The Right Guy said...

You make a great point chuck. I still say there were forces driving him in that direction. Still, his 5th cousin was much to blame for the progressive crap we have today. Teddy was a brilliant man, probably one of the best to ever be in the white house and he had moral character that was nearly beyond reproach. I wish we had such men today. Thanks chuck.

LL said...

TR would recoil violently if he saw the situation today. In fact, he would likely walk into the white house and thrash Dear Leader within an inch of his life.

TR wanted to reduce the suffering of the poor, and as you quite correctly pointed out, the nations evolved middle class simply wasn't present in TR's era.

Teddy Roosevelt is still a hero of mine. His goals were directed to benefit the whole, not to destroy the whole for a utopian socialist power elite.

The Right Guy said...

Teddy would have despised dear leader, but he still laid the groundwork. He was the first president with a "deal". The Square Deal. I would hope that if he saw where we went he would reconsider...As far as benefitting the whole, that is a greater good construct which usually leads to a utilitarian socialist nightmare. Obama is what they call a Fabian Socialist. Look it up, When you read it, you'll be like, oh yeah...

I will say the one thing that progressives don't like about TR is that he was not afraid to use force. If there is one thing about the elitist socialist movement is that they are a bunch of pussies that would rather be on their knees and/or be lunch than fight. TR would NOT have any use for them at all.

Thanks for stopping by LL.

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