And the plagiarist is not his vice president, this time. Historian Doris Kearns Goodwin sees images of Roosevelts Teddy and Franklin the way some folks “see” images of the Virgin Mary in a potato chip. About 10 days ago she said she wanted to see a little Teddy in Barack Obama. The flailing president is only too happy to oblige.
Goodwin wants Obama to run as an openly “progressive” candidate. History suggests that this is a good idea — for Obama’s opponent. Teddy R. ran as a “Bull Moose” progressive candidate in 1912, and lost in a three-way race that put Democrat (and fervent KKK supporter) Woodrow Wilson into the presidency. TR’s presidential victories came earlier in his career, when he ran as a more conventional Republican with a strong reformist record from his work in New York City and State. And he had a record of charging up San Juan Hill and shooting big game. It’s hard to imagine Obama leading a similar charge from behind.
It’s funny to me, that for a historian, Doris Kearns Goodwin misses the most substantive difference between Teddy Roosevelt and Barack Obama, which is that prior to being elected president, TR had actually done things. Lots of things. Interesting and patriotic and very difficult things. TR had cleaned up the NYPD, and been governor, assistant secretary of the navy, a rancher, big game hunter, a military leader and vice president, before becoming president. Prior to becoming president, Teddy Roosevelt had led one of the most interesting lives in American history. We still, in an age of total media saturation, barely know about Obama’s life prior to his presidency.