Monday, October 27, 2008

Theodore Roosevelt in the New York Times today.

I know I'll be talking about this piece so I might as well post a link to it (so I can find it again). Blog as filing cabinet. By the way, I understand McCain has been saying former President Theodore Roosevelt is his model and political hero...

Just a few bits from
Theodore Roosevelt, Pundit
By Edmund Morris for the New York Times, October 27, 2008

THE former president, born 150 years ago today, was interviewed ... His statements below are drawn from the historic record and are uncut except when interrupted by his interviewer.

Q. Happy birthday, Mr. President! Or do you prefer being called Colonel?

ROOSEVELT I've had the title of president once — having it twice means nothing except peril to whatever reputation I achieved the first time.

Q. "Colonel," then. Do you think the Congress elected two years ago as a foil to the Bush administration has fulfilled its mandate?

A. I am heartsick over the delay, the blundering, the fatuous and complacent inefficiency and the effort to substitute glittering rhetoric for action.

Q. Do you blame the House Democratic majority?

A. A goodly number of senators, even of my own party, have shown about as much backbone as so many angleworms.

Q. Does [McCain's] vow to give Joe the Plumber a tax break remind you of Reaganomics?

A. This is merely the plan, already tested and found wanting, of giving prosperity to the big men on top, and trusting to their mercy to let something leak through to the mass of their countrymen below — which, in effect, means that there shall be no attempt to regulate the ferocious scramble in which greed and cunning reap the largest rewards.

Q. In Washington today, Colonel, you're increasingly seen as the father of centralized, executive, regulatory control.

A. Great corporations exist only because they are created and safeguarded by our institutions; and it is therefore our right and duty to see that they work in harmony with these institutions.

Q. Especially now that we've seen the end of another age of laissez-faire economics?

A. These new conditions make it necessary to shackle cunning, as in the past we have shackled force. The vast individual and corporate fortunes, the vast combinations of capital —

Q. Even vaster in your day! John D. Rockefeller was richer than Bill Gates, dollar for dollar.

A. Quite right. (He dislikes being interrupted.) And please, let this now be as much of a monologue as possible.

Q. Excuse me, you were saying that vast combinations of capital ...

A. ... create new conditions, and necessitate a change from the old attitude of the state and the nation toward the rules regulating the acquisition and untrammeled business use of property.

Q. So you approve of the federal bailout?

A. I think we have got to face the fact that such an increase in governmental control is now necessary.

Q. Should we condone the huge severance packages paid to executives of rescued corporations?

A. There is need in business, as in most other forms of human activity, of the great guiding intelligences. Their places cannot be supplied by any number of lesser intelligences. It is a good thing that they should have ample recognition, ample reward. But we must not transfer our admiration to the reward instead of to the deed rewarded; and if what should be the reward exists without the service having been rendered, then admiration will come only from those who are mean of soul.

Q. So we should withhold our envy of Richard Fuld, the chairman of Lehman Brothers, for taking home half a billion before his company went down?

A. Envy and arrogance are the two opposite sides of the same black crystal.

Q. Extraordinary image, Colonel. What's your impression of Barack Obama?

A. Unless I am greatly mistaken, the people have made up their mind that they wish some new instrument.

Q. You're not afraid that he's primarily a man of words? Like Woodrow Wilson, whom you once called a "Byzantine logothete"?

A. It is highly desirable that a leader of opinion in a democracy should be able to state his views clearly and convincingly.

Q. [Obama] doesn't have Mr. McCain's foreign policy experience. As president, how would he personify us around the world?

A. It always pays for a nation to be a gentleman.

Q. There'll be Joe Biden to counsel him, of course. Assuming Mr. Obama can keep track of what he's saying.

A. (laughing) You can't nail marmalade against a wall.

Q. Talking of foreign policy, what do you think of Mr. McCain's choice of a female running mate?

A. Times have changed (sigh). It is entirely inexcusable, however, to try to combine the unready hand with the unbridled tongue.

Q. How will you feel if Sarah Palin is elected?

A. I shall feel exactly the way a very small frog looks when it swallows a beetle the size of itself, with extremely stiff legs.

Q. What's your impression of President Bush these days?

A. (suddenly serious) He looks like Judas, but unlike that gentleman has no capacity for remorse.

Q. Is that the best you can say of him?

A. I wish him well, but I wish him well at a good distance from me.

Q. One last question, Colonel. If you were campaigning now, would you still call yourself a Republican?

A. (after a long pause) No.


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