A Tale of Two Speeches, A Tale of Two Men

On Tuesday, Barack Obama delivered a speech in Kansas.  Osawatomie, Kansas to be exact.  With little subtlety, this was an attempt to conjure up the spirit of Teddy Roosevelt, the TRex of the early 20th Century, the scrappy yet privileged pugilist, who pitted himself against monopolies, rabid financiers and proudly defended the American ‘square deal.’  In truth, TR was no saint.  But he was a man of conviction.  And action.

Barack Obama has proven himself a weak sister by any comparison.  Yet, he and his handlers, his ever-present speechwriters saw fit to mirror Roosevelt’s words.  We’re to believe that Obama is a populist at heart, a Roosevelt clone, calling on the Nation to embrace progress over privilege.  The square deal becomes the fair chance.  The review of abuses and lawlessness that TR was not afraid to call destructive become a wrong.  Legislative solutions and regulatory oversight that TR specifically cites are mentioned in passing or given more credit than they’re actually due, eg., the stripped down Dodd-Frank bill.  Notice there was no mention of reinstating Glass-Steagall, something that wouldn’t solve the entire mess we find ourselves in but would be an important first step in the reform process.

Let’s get real.  Barack Obama has no intention of reforming anything.  Unlike TR who said:

“Words count for nothing except in so far as they represent acts.”

And Barack Obama?   He’s countered with words leading nowhere.

He was against the Iraq War, only there’s no record of his opposition.  His ‘just words’ speech—a steal from an earlier Deval Patrick oratory—said everything the man has proven himself to be, an empty talker.  Where is the evidence that Barack Obama is or ever was a defender of the ‘ordinary man and woman?”  Oh yes, he was a community organizer.  And what exactly were his accomplishments?  He was a State Senator.  Accomplishments, please [beyond representing the interests of slum landlords].  And as a US senator?  Accomplishments?


Let’s line this up against a few of Teddy Roosevelt words made flesh:

  • Successfully prosecuted the Northern Securities Co. for the merger of the Northern Pacific, The Great Northern and the Chicago, Burlington and Quincey railroads under the Sherman Antitrust Act.
  • Restored public confidence in the government’s ability to hold the country’s most powerful men accountable to the law.
  • Frequently warned conservative critics that revolutionary upheaval was likely to be inspired by an ‘attitude of arrogance on the part of property owners and their unwillingness to recognize their duty to the public.’
  • Pushed through Congress legislation establishing the Department of Commerce and Labor and within that Department the Bureau of Corporations, authorized to investigate and publicize suspect corporate activities.
  • Challenged the corporate view that business records be kept in secrecy and that employers had a right to deal with employees as they saw fit [one need only review the deplorable working conditions and wages of the era to understand the need for reform] with no interference from the Government.
  • Brokered a peace between Russia and Japan, for which he earned the Nobel Peace Prize.

There’s more, of course—the good, the bad and the ugly.  TR was not perfect but unlike the present occupant of the White House, he had a vision that was his and his alone.  He was the public face and voice of the American Progressive Movement that would eventually lead to improved working conditions, a woman’s right to vote, union legitimacy and new attitudes regarding our environment–conserving our national, natural treasures for the future–among other things.

Teddy Roosevelt was a man of the moment and a man with a legacy.

Now think of Barack Obama, the lack of vision, the broken promises, the man in search of an identity:  JFK, FDR, Abraham Lincoln.  And now Teddy Roosevelt.  This is the blank slate upon whom everything has been written but nothing has stuck.  Oh yes, we have the healthcare reform bill, a legislative mystery written behind closed doors then sealed with secret insurance industry deals and wet kisses to Big Pharma.  We also have wars continued and financed, record unemployment [jobs which will not be replaced by pretty words],  nearly 46 million Americans receiving food stamps [1 in 7], houses still underwater with few promised modifications and/or relief and 20+% of our children classified as ‘food insecure.’

This is not a vision.  It’s a disaster.  I’ll leave you with Teddy Roosevelt’s words, from his own Kansas speech:

I stand for the square deal. But when I say that I am for the square deal, I mean not merely that I stand for fair play under the present rules of the games, but that I stand for having those rules changed so as to work for a more substantial equality of opportunity and of reward for equally good service.


The object of government is the welfare of the people. The material progress and prosperity of a nation are desirable chiefly so far as they lead to the moral and material welfare of all good citizens.


One of the fundamental necessities in a representative government such as ours is to make certain that the men to whom the people delegate their power shall serve the people by whom they are elected, and not the special interests. I believe that every national officer, elected or appointed, should be forbidden to perform any service or receive any compensation, directly or indirectly, from interstate corporations; and a similar provision could not fail to be useful within the States.

These are words most of us can believe in, spoken August 31, 1910.  I’d encourage readers to take a few moments and read TR’s words in their entirety.

Then read Obama’s speech.

Two speeches.  Two men.

If President Obama wants to slip on the mantle of Teddy Roosevelt, become a born-again populist in 2012, he’ll need action to prove his words.


Because the days of blind faith are over.

13 Comments on “A Tale of Two Speeches, A Tale of Two Men”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    Teddy Roosevelt was an environmentalist who preserved wilderness lands by creating 5 national parks. Barack Obama protected BP after their horrendous gulf oil spill, and now he’s considering an oil pipeline extending across the entire country north to south.

    National Park Service history:

    Theodore Roosevelt, the noted conservation president, had an impact on the national park system extending well beyond his term in office. As chief executive from 1901 to 1909, he signed legislation establishing five national parks: Crater Lake, Oregon; Wind Cave, South Dakota; Sullys Hill, North Dakota (later redesignated a game preserve); Mesa Verde, Colorado; and Platt, Oklahoma (now part of Chickasaw National Recreation Area). Another Roosevelt enactment had a broader effect, however: the Antiquities Act of June 8, 1906. While not creating a single park itself, the Antiquities Act enabled Roosevelt and his successors to proclaim ãhistoric landmarks, historic or prehistoric structures, and other objects of historic or scientific interestä in federal ownership as national monuments.

    Roosevelt did not hesitate to take advantage of this new executive authority. By the end of 1906 he had proclaimed four national monuments: Devils Tower, Wyoming, on September 24 and El Morro, New Mexico, Montezuma Castle, Arizona, and Petrified Forest, Arizona, together on December 8. He was also prepared to interpret the authority expansively, protecting a large portion of the Grand Canyon as a national monument in 1908. By the end of his term he had reserved six predominantly cultural areas and twelve predominantly natural areas in this manner. Half the total were initially administered by the Agriculture Department and were later transferred to Interior Department jurisdiction.

    Later presidents also used the Antiquities Act to proclaim national monuments÷105 in all. Forty-nine of them retain this designation today; others have been retitled national parks or otherwise reclassified by Congress. The Antiquities Act is the original authority for about a quarter of the 378 areas composing the national park system in 1999.

    • bostonboomer says:

      Thanks for another excellent post, Peggy Sue.

      • Minkoff Minx says:

        Oh yes, thank you Peggy.

      • peggysue22 says:

        Thanks for the additional TRex info and links, BB. That channeling of Roosevelt made my head explode. I mean really–3 years in and Obama is still looking for a personality to capture and wear as his own. Do they [the Obamacrats] really view the electorate as completely brain dead?

        I guess so!

        Btw, did you hear Gingrich wants to name John Bolton as Secretary of State when he takes the WH? We have/had Hillary Clinton and we’ll trade her for Bolton?

        This is the major asset Obama has going for him. He’s a fake but the GOP is batshit crazy.

      • bostonboomer says:

        OMG, Bolton?! Gag

  2. ralphb says:

    Bully! Excellent post Peggy Sue

  3. Minkoff Minx says:

    I really think that Obama has picked the wrong Roosevelt to emulate.

    • peggysue22 says:

      Thanks, Ralph and Minx. Btw, Minx, I think you’re right. TR was a fighter. Obama’s style is bending over and folding on all things. The comparison is beyond ridiculous and the words alone are not enough.

    • dakinikat says:

      My grandparents were newly married and lived in Osawattamie when TR was there. My grandad worked for the railroad there.

  4. northwestrain says:

    Obowma copies others — he will never be an original. Sad. I was hoping that I’d be wrong.

    • peggysue22 says:

      I was hoping to be wrong as well, northwestrain. Instead, Obama is worse than I could have imagined. Sad for the country, sad for all of us.

  5. djmm says:

    Excellent post! President Obama is no Teddy Roosevelt!


    • peggysue22 says:

      Unfortunately, not. We could use a little TR vigor right about now. Thanks for the read!