Friday, November 19, 2004


T.R. and W

I keep hearing and reading about how dastardly George W. Bush is. Frequently I hear people complain that he is abusing the office of the Presidency, and we all remember the goofballs at who compared him to Hitler.

As I have written in this space before, I cannot agree with everything that Bush has done. I don't think there is any president that has a perfect record. But given the grand issues of the day, I think it might be noteworthy to reflect back on the presidency of Teddy Roosevelt while viewing the current presidency of George W. Bush.

T.R. was the first president of modern times to really transform the presidency into an activist institution that was involved directly and decisively in both domestic and foreign affairs. Bush is simply staying true to that part of the Republican legacy of our country.

As for those people who just cannot seem to "understand" why Bush was re-elected, I think that Bush shares the support of the "plain-folk" first described by Abraham Lincoln and cited by Roosevelt:

"It is a particular gratification to me to have owed my election... above all to Abraham Lincoln's 'plain people;' to the folks who work hard on the farm, in the shop, or on the railroad, or who own little stores, little businesses... I would literally, not figuratively, rather cut off my right hand than forfeit by any improper act of mine the trust and regard of these people."

What will be interesting to see is how Bush's new Republican progressivism will fare in the next four years. His push on immigration issues (that is not a favorite of mine), his desire to reform the broken tort system, his view of America as a beacon and promoter of liberty and representative democracy, his ideas about reforming the currently doomed Social Security pension system, and his apparent new push to find charitable and private sector ways to tackle the health care issues of our country all place him in the T.R. school of Republicanism. However, Bush seems content to lead only on some, but not all, of these issues and allow the individuals outside of government, the citizens, do the heavy lifting which is more of a reflection of Reaganism.

Perhaps history will regard Bush as having received his B.A. degree from the T.R. school and his M.A. from Reagan's. Only time will tell if a Ph.D. is in the offing as well, or, perhaps, he will skip right into forming his own school for future Republican presidents.

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