[tr-m] Fw: Fwd: The Teddy Fixation
- I was wondering if anyone caught this article in The Atlantic:
>POLITICS & PROSE | Tagging After Teddy
>by Christopher Caldwell
>Why Teddy Roosevelt -- "an egomaniacal weirdo" -- is a hero to both
>Republicans and Democrats.
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- An interesting bit of historical drivel. I'm afraid that anything Mr.
Caldwell offered that might have even led me to believe that he was remotely
sane was his assertion that,
"...the Eisenhower model of sober custodianship over peace and prosperity.
But that role has already been taken, stunningly enough, by Bill Clinton."
Anyone capable of referring to the actions of the current president as "sober
custodianship", has psychopathic tendencies written all over them. Pass this
article by ... completely!
- While I find the theme of this article fascinating and one that probably
should be explored in greater depth (not to mention an example of TR's
diverse appeal, both as a person and a politician), when Mr. Caldwell
switches from the journalistic aspects of the article to one of a
historian, his writing breaks down.
"By any scale of values that have prevailed since the Second World War,
Teddy Roosevelt is a wretched example of an American President." What
scale of values is that? Expand the US's influence around the world? Beat
back totalitarianism? Make business more responsible to the consumer and
its employees? That we have more square miles of forests now than when he
died, not to mention more national parks and the like? There are other
examples, and of course we, at the end of the 20th century, we have not
totally carried on TR's convictions, but a "wretched example"? Last I
checked, having a squeaky voice was not a character flaw and being a
physical fitness nut is rather chic.
Next he seeks to indict TR's personal life by stating that he "tormented"
Elliott through much of his young life and that he must have an unstable
psyche since he went back to the New York Assembly two days after his wife
and mother died. While I've only read biographies of TR and so this may
have been covered up, about the only mean things he ever did to Elliott was
lock him away for being a drunk and disgracing the family. Perhaps in our
age the concept of having a reputable name and doing one's duty is passe,
but I don't know that it makes us question a person's sanity.
Mr. Caldwell finally does make a valid point about TR's racial
views. While I doubt TR was a racist per se, in today's sensitized
climate, his views would not be acceptable and would be a bad example to
have in the White House to represent all Americans. However, the writer
overlooks the issue of hyphenated Americanism has interesting parallels in
today's debate over affirmative action.
But the writer steps into it again by stating "His Administration's foreign
policy was passive ... the Panama Canal was its only achievement...." I
guess I don't need to reiterate TR's foreign policy achievements here
(Treaty of Portsmouth), but I'm sure that William Tilchin, at the least,
would quarrel with this statement.
Finally, the writer states that Bill Clinton is the inheritor of the mantle
of presiding over peace and prosperity, yet in his closing paragraph he
states that we're in a time of tumult, not unlike the turn of the last
century. While I realize these two states of the union are not
diametrically opposed, they do present somewhat of a clashing view of our
This is an intriguing topic -- how both political parties are seeking to
latch onto the legacy of a president from nearly 100 years ago. However,
beyond the contemporary journalism displayed in this article, I find it
rather lacking in quality analysis. I would like to see someone with more
scholarly depth on the subject address it, rather than a journalist with a
skewed view of history.
At 12:13 PM 4/1/00 -0500, you wrote:
>I was wondering if anyone caught this article in The Atlantic:
> >POLITICS & PROSE | Tagging After Teddy
> >by Christopher Caldwell
> >Why Teddy Roosevelt -- "an egomaniacal weirdo" -- is a hero to both
> >Republicans and Democrats.
>YOU'RE PAYING TOO MUCH FOR THE INTERNET!
>Juno now offers FREE Internet Access!
>Try it today - there's no risk! For your FREE software, visit:
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