Sunday, April 06, 2008

Irony of McCain's Choice of Historical Hero Teddy Roosevelt

Teddy Roosevelt (T.R.), like the John McCain of the past, presented himself with a reforming righteousness and unwavering moral authority. T.R. preached democracy as a fundamental moral undertaking and insisted that it was contingent on the "good" character of its citizens to sustain itself. He also emphasized the importance of "square deal" politics to the American public.

John McCain followed Roosevelt’s example until recently. He twice voted against President Bush's tax breaks for the rich, supports the McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance Law that many conservatives hate, and in general, seemed to transcend the "greediness" of conservative politics. In his struggle to satisfy the base, he is beginning to switch gears as he evokes Ronald Reagan's name over Theodore Roosevelt's and especially, McCain's Phil Graham connection.

Considering John McCain's "weakness" is economics, it makes sense that this is where he vacillates, however; his current turnaround contrasts squarely with T. R's "square deal" and "fair play" ideas. T.R.'s desire to take on big business, and his growing weariness of the special power and money that flowed to Americans of great wealth in the beginning of the 20th Century, or as T.R. put it, "unholy alliance between corrupt business and corrupt politics” directly opposes Ronald Reagan's desire to deregulate and trickle-down great wealth.

John McCain's level of "integrity" must be measured on a scale specifically made for the political world. Like all politicians, McCain must get elected into office before he can be of service to America and unfortunately, sometimes that requires pandering to a group of people you may not ordinarily agree with, yet who are crucial to your success. I previously blogged about Joe Biden being located in the state that is home to the credit card industry and the dilemma that presented, although I believe John McCain's association with Phil Graham goes way beyond trying to get elected, and more a matter of ignorance, nevertheless, his continued mentoring with Graham could be disastrous for America if McCain is elected President.

Joshua David Hawley , author of Theodore Roosevelt, Preacher of Righteousness describes the political atmosphere prior to T.R.'s run for presidency which could be compared to the political atmosphere John McCain is running in. Mr. Hawley said, as early as 1879 the collapse of the moral consensus of the 19th century, meaning organized Christianity and the series of beliefs that went along with that had produced a moral interregnum in the country and that combined with a shifting economic system and the country’s changing demographic patterns, unsettled the country to such a degree, not only economically but morally and socially as well and T.R.'s presidency was a reaction to uncertain time.

John McCain must decide whether he's going to continue to pursue the Ronald Reagan path of "government is the problem" or jump back on the T.R. track of, let's use government to help structure the market so that it will prop up and work for democracy.

Square Deal

"Let the watchwords of all our people be the old familiar watchwords of honesty, decency, fair-dealing, and commonsense."... "We must treat each man on his worth and merits as a man. We must see that each is given a square deal, because he is entitled to no more and should receive no less.""The welfare of each of us is dependent fundamentally upon the welfare of all of us." -- T. R., New York State Fair, Syracuse, September 7, 1903

"A man who is good enough to shed his blood for his country is good enough to be given a square deal afterwards. More than that no man is entitled, and less than that no man shall have." -- T. R., Speech to veterans, Springfield, IL, July 4, 1903

"We demand that big business give the people a square deal; in return we must insist that when anyone engaged in big business honestly endeavors to do right he shall himself be given a square deal." -- T. R., Letter to Sir Edward Gray, November 15, 1913

"The principles for which we stand are the principles of fair play and a square deal for every man and every woman in the United States, a square deal politically, a square deal ... social and industrial " -- T. R., in 1913 in New York City

2 comments:

mr. peanut,  10:48  

Roosevelt was a closeted racist. When I say closeted, I mean closeted for that time. He had definite ideas about white supremacy and truly believed in WASPS should have had more children to make sure their superior genes would not get watered down or die out.

McCain obviously is no racist. He has a black child and makes it pretty clear he believes in equality of the races.

Theodore Roosevelt was no saint and McCain is probably a better person than Roosevelt.

Leute 15:46  

I'm sure McCain is a better man than Teddy Roosevelt but what I'm not sure about is whether he would make a better president.

Considering the economic climate, I really think McCain's ignorance of economics and his choice of mentor could pose a danger to our society should he get elected.

Thanks for your comment!

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