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Robert A. Mills

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Blogs by Robert A. Mills

KING TEDDY
8/21/2009 6:01:22 AM

Our 26th president was a conservative Republican. Ironically, though, I have a theory Theodore Roosevelt delighted in masquerading in the halls of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue as a “closet” liberal Democrat.

Edmund Morris’s mammoth and magnificent THEODORE REX, a most erudite and revealing florilegium of the “Rough Rider’s” Administration, leaves no doubt that Mr. Roosevelt is preeminent among our ten most dynamic and charismatic presidents, along with Washington, Jefferson, Jackson, Lincoln, Wilson, FDR, JFK, Clinton and Obama. (Thank our lucky stars and stripes there was room for four of them on Mt. Rushmore!)

I know there will be some argument why Adams, Monroe, Bush, Regan and Eisenhower did not make the cut, but history will be the final tabulator: their accomplishments, though sometimes significant, left too many efforts floundering and flailing like gasping fish on the slimy decks of human experience.

One passage in Morris’s tome bears close examination to shed incontrovertible light on my thesis. I will quote him verbally with italicized brackets to indicate my alterations. “The next morning’s newspapers proclaimed the . . . achievement: THE PRESIDENT’S [HEALTH CARE REFORM] PROGRAM COMPLETED. [The President] . . . was oddly defensive, fearing that it might not look like much of a triumph to readers studying the details. How were they to know he had had a ‘regular stand-up fight’ with Senators [? and ?] before getting any . . . legislation at all?

“It was a fact, though, that he had negotiated only a modest, discretionary program. The powers invested in him [according to the biased press] had more to do with publicity than direct discipline. To forestall any radical discontent, he decided to issue a victory statement through the [Majority Speaker’s] office, emphasizing the cooperative [Congressional] nature of his plan.

“Soon [Senator ?] was on his way . . . with scribbled instructions from the President: ‘Say what has been done practically substantially every thing asked for . . . Not only has a long stride in advance been taken; not only have all the promises of last fall been made good, but Congress has now enacted all that is practicable and all that is desireable to do.’ [Senator ?] dutifully announced that the legislation just passed by Congress was ‘highly gratifying’ to the Administration, and represented the concerned wisdom ‘of many earnest and thoughtful men.’

“The result was another batch of positive headlines. They helped counteract the negative editorials, such as one in the [local newspaper] mocking the [President’s] plan as ‘a lame and impotent conclusion to so much ferocious talk.’ Few Republican papers went as far as the [another biased newspaper] in claiming that ‘no such revolution in the operations of [health care] has been worked since the [Social Security] Act was passed.’

“Nevertheless, [the President] had brought about the first strengthening of federal regulatory authority in more than a decade, and unlike any Chief Executive before him, identified with [the entire health care community, known as] antitrust policy. In the words of the [a mainstream media rag], ‘The President of the United States is the original trust-buster, the greatest and only one for the occasion.’

“Whether this would redound to his future glory was uncertain. There were signs that yesterday’s great wave of [Americans without health insurance] was slowing, even as competition [showed signs of thriving] and the nation’s wealth swelled [once again.] Memories of hard times were growing dim. The American people were bored with [health care,] as they were bored with summer [global warming, unemployment, high fuel prices, property foreclosures, an unstable stock market.] Like the President, they looked forward to a winter of new issues. For now, [‘health care’] could safely be left to [Limbaugh, Fox News, Congress] and the courts.”

Sadly, Edmund Morris, who won the Pulitzer Prize for his earlier biography, THE RISE OF THEODORE ROOSEVELT, has not yet, to my knowledge, been so honored for THEODORE REX, a richer, more complex book.

Perhaps, however, his reward may be the Psychic’s Prize for establishing and pinpointing Barack Obama’s remarkable shade a little more than 100 years earlier.



A couple more answers to Life’s Critical Questions:

How did the pear get inside the brandy bottle? It grew inside the bottle.
The bottles are placed over pear buds when they are small,
and are wired in place on the tree. The bottle is left in place for
the entire growing season. When the pears are ripe, they are
snipped off at the stems.

Three English words beginning with "dw"?
Dwarf, dwell and dwindle


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