The N.Y. Times carries an interesting interview with John McCain, in which he claims the mantle of Teddy Roosevelt. The Republican candidate would like us to think of Teddy Roosevelt’s fierce commitment to environmental conservation when we contemplate McCain’s candidacy. The only problem is that even if McCain is a different kind of Republican when it comes to the environment (which is highly debatable), the claim is ludicrous on its face. Roosevelt inspired an environmental consciousness in American society. What has McCain done that is ground-breaking on that score?
Not to mention the fact that Roosevelt was a true reformer who didn’t hesitate to take on the corporate trusts to break up powerful business monopolies. As president, he also championed the little man against the power of the corporate elite. What can McCain say that he has done to this end? What would TR make of a presidential candidate whose staff has been riddled with highly paid corporate lobbyists?
The aptness to the comparison may be in their respective war records. Roosevelt was known for his willingness to project American power during a period of rising colonial aspirations. No doubt Roosevelt was a warrior as was McCain. But unlike McCain, Roosevelt also won a Nobel Prize for negotiating the end of the Russo-Japanese War. What peacemaking credentials does McCain have?
The N.Y. Times interview also ranged over social issues, where McCain is attempting to curry favor with social conservatives. He made this lame comment on the issue of gay adoption:
Mr. McCain, who with his wife, Cindy, has an adopted daughter, said flatly that he opposed allowing gay couples to adopt. “I think that we’ve proven that both parents are important in the success of a family so, no, I don’t believe in gay adoption,” he said.
Someone will have to explain to me why two loving gay parents are any different than a loving father and mother. McCain seems to think there is something intrinsically different in the equation. I just don’t see it. As I got to thinking about this, why does McCain have a position on this at all? It’s not a federal issue.
The article continues with a discussion of same-sex marriage, and there, I notice, McCain DOES make a distinction by saying that while he personally opposes it, he would leave the issue to the states to administer. So why the difference between gay marriage and gay adoption?
McCain also put his foot in it last week by suggesting it is a good thing the U.S. has expanded exports of cigarettes to Iran since they will likely kill more Iranians that way:
Last week, McCain was asked about an Associated Press report that the U.S. exported $158 million worth of cigarettes to Iran during the Bush administration in spite of restrictions on U.S. imports.
“Maybe that’s a way of killing them,” McCain said.
Now, that’s a statement you’d certainly expect of Teddy Roosevelt, right? TR didn’t mind killing America’s enemies on the battlefield, but killing them with cancer candy whose sales line the pockets of the tobacco industry would’ve been anathema to him.
* What’s missing from the picture? Black or Hispanic faces, for one. I understand that the rally was in Hudson, WI and that there may not be many minorities in that part of Wisconsin. But I still think it’s telling that John McCain has major campaign rallies with nary a black or brown face in sight.
McCain is delusional. Their differences on MAJOR issues.
*Theodore Roosevelt was the first President to call for Universal Health Care & National Health Insurance
– McCain opposes Universal Health Care & National Health Insurance.
* T.Roosevelt was FIRST to propose, draft, sign into law government Social Security Act 1935.
– McCain wants to PRIVATIZE Social Security (vulnerable to stock market.)
* T.Roosevelt supported labor unions.
– John McCain eliminates union jobs with massive pro-Free Trade agreements with China, Mexico, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Oman, Singapore, Chile and Morocco.
* T.Roosevelt helped create jobs.
– McCain has helped jobs move overseas with his MANY Free Trade agreement votes.
– McCain calls people who want jobs to stay in USA, “Protectionists” as if it is a BAD THING to “Protect” American jobs.
– McCain would label Teddy Roosevelt a “Protectionist.”
* T.Roosevelt was critic & watchdog of Corporate America.
– McCain bows down to Corporate America.
*T.Roosevelt was a conservationist who didn’t even want Christmas Trees in the White House because he didn’t want trees cut down.
– McCain would rather drill for oil in the ANWAR (cutting down trees) than the 68 million acres oil companies already have.
*T.Roosevelt QUIT the Republican Party BEFORE he ran for President.
– McCain became rightwinged Republican SINCE his current run for President.
*T.Roosevelt was 42 years old, youngest person to be elected President.
– McCain is 71, oldest person to run for President.
unknown speaker says
Teddy Roosevelt didn’t quit before he ran for president. He didn’t care much about the party he was in, but cared about the people. Later on Teddy tried to run for president for a 3rd term against his ex-best friend Taft. After Taft was the person the Republicans wanted, Teddy left and started his own party, the Bull Moose Party. Then Wilson became president because the Republicans split up. >.>; sorry, but I LOVE Teddy Roosevelt, he’s one of the best presidents out there in American History 😀
Just saying, I misunderstood it >.>;
unknown speaker says
Just saying that I might of misunderstood what you said*
unknown speaker says
Plus Teddy Roosevelt wasn’t the youngest president to be elected >.>; John F. Kennedy was. BUT Teddy was the youngest president :3 just not elected because of the assaination of William McKinley
You rightly point out that the anecdote of the McCains’ successful adoption is no proof whatsoever for gay couples not being able to do the same. So why do you resort to the same kind of anecdotal “evidence” for the lack of coloured people at his rallies? From the single photo of less than three dozen people (out of how many?) I sure can’t tell. I’m not saying the opposite is true, nor am I a fan of McCain, just that one photo proves nothing at all.
McCain can have a position on gay adoption precisely because it’s not a federal issue, so he won’t have to make good on any pre-election promises. It’s a perfect issue for pandering to whoever is the panderee du jour. (If “panderee” is not a word, it should be.) And to say he “opposes” it is anyway not the same as using the power of office to prevent it. His slightly different wording on gay marriage then gives him opportunity to support “states rights” – another important topic with conservatives.
The “cigarettes” comment was a stupid joke, he realised it himself, so let’s move on. That it entered his mind at all, as well as the (domestic) reactions to it is more proof of anti-smoking (and anti-Iran) hysteria than anything else.
Lastly, a technical issue: for the x-th time now I had typed in a comment, hit submit, and got hit back by an “error” page which told me to check if I had cookies enabled – and in the next paragraph that I indeed had. Klicking “back” did bring me back, but my beautiful comment was gone, and I had to recreate it from Swiss cheese, aka “memory”. On 2nd try submitting then obviously worked.
Richard Silverstein says
I am sorry about the technical issue with commenting. If any other commenters experience this error pls. let me know. I’m trying to figure out what the problem is. It could be related to my anti spam plugin which works by generating a cookie for every published comment. I hope I can fix this soon. In the meantime, I suggest that people highlight & save their comments before they click the Submit button in case this happens. If it does & the comment box goes blank, you can paste it back into it & then publish it.
I think you are combining your two Roosevelts. FDR passed social security in 1935. Teddy may well have supported it, being a progressive sort of conservative (if that makes sense), but as he had died in 1919 or 1920, we will never know.
TR was one of the first national politicians, certainly from the Republicans, to give labor unions a fair shake, but I think again it was FDR who created jobs.
Lastly, Roosevelt became President as a Republican VP and was re-elected as a Republican. He lost as a Bull Moose progressive, helping get the Democrat Woodrow Wilson elected.
Roosevelt, in the common US presidential mold, was a racist psychotic who should have been executed. No surprise the blood-spattered butcher McCain takes this monster as his inspiration.
Richard Silverstein says
@rykart: “Executed?” What political planet do you live on?
“I don’t go so far as to think that the only good Indians are dead Indians, but I believe nine out of ten are, and I shouldn’t like to inquire too closely into the case of the tenth.”
-Old Rough and Ready- Theodore Roosevelt 79).
Teddy Roosevelt’s exterminationist mindset is of a piece with McCain’s, so they are legitimate soul mates. Roosevelt’s horrific book “Winning the West” ought to be placed alongside fellow white supremacist Adolph Hitler’s Mein Kampf and indeed, Hitler was a great admirer of Roosevelt’s sick degeneracy, as John Toland makes clear in his excellent Hitler biography:
“Hitler’s concept of concentration camps as well as the practicality of genocide owed much, so he claimed, to his studies of English and United States history. He admired the camps for Boer prisoners in South Africa And for the Indians in the Wild West; and often praised to his inner circle the efficiency of America’s extermination-by starvation and uneven combat-of the ‘Red Savages’ who could not be tamed by captivity. (John Toland, “Adolf Hitler” Vol II, p 802, Doubleday & Co, 1976)
Of course, nearly every US president after WWII should have been executed, if one follows the law and applies the principle of universality. Chomsky made this point and it’s rather uncontroversial if one examines the record of criminal behavior and compares this with the prescribed punishment for such behavior according to established law.
Richard Silverstein says
@rykart: Chomsky “made the point” that every U.S. president since WWII should be executed??? I’d like to see proof of that. You & yr politics are passing strange.
Well, Chomsky has made the point more than once:
As I say, the point is uncontroversial, just as my claim that Teddy Roosevelt, an architect of major genocide, was clearly deserving of the death penalty, unless one follows Roosevelt’s view that these particular victims of slaughter were non-people and therefore deserving of their fate.
Richard Silverstein says
Well, I’ll be damned. You’re right. Which shows yet another judgment of Chomsky’s with which I disagree.
Elsewhere, Chomsky makes the more relevant point that all the presidential acts he described would easily qualify as war crimes under U.S. law, specifically, the War Crimes Act, signed into law by a republican congress. The punishment for such crimes is not impeachment. It is not a fine, or community service. The punishment is the death penalty. So it’s fairly straightforward: either we follow the rule of law and execute the presidents, or we declare ourselves an outlaw state.
I would say in particular, that the failure to execute Harry Truman laid the groundwork for the subsequent half-century of genocide by the United States. Once you declare that the deliberate incineration of two civilian population centers with atomic weapons is not a war crime, you basically say that there is no such thing as a war crime so far as the U.S is concerned. This is precisely the premise we have operated under since WWII, (with predictably horrifying results).
Israel, of course, takes a somewhat different approach. They have simply legalized war crimes such as house demolitions, assassinations, use of human shields, targeting of civilians, destruction of infrastructure essential to life, expulsions and torture. The Bush administration, apparently inspired by this can-do spirit, has sought to bring the law into consonance with longstanding US policy, declaring the Geneva Conventions “quaint”, legalizing wars of aggression, denial of habeas corpus, torture and what have you.
…one final point, bearing on McCain. So comfortable are US leaders with total immunity for high crimes, that they are often willing to openly declare themselves guilty. McCain famously did so on 60 minutes: “I am a war criminal” he said. “I bombed innocent women and children.”
Ditto for Bob Kerry, who revealed his participation in a massacre in Indochina in which he murdered civilians and slit the throat of an elderly man. No indictment. No nothing. He wasn’t even forced to step down as Dean of the (supposedly progressive) New School in New York. The matter has long since been forgotten, (though presumably, the memory remains indelible for the residents of Thanh Phong village).
Such is the society we have created, one viewed by the civilized world with appropriate revulsion.
Richard Silverstein says
I’m always amused by uber-leftists like you who seem to believe that the law exists in some sort of exalted palace and that it must be interpreted as absolute & immutable. People like you remind me of the Robbespierres of the world. Seeking to attain universal justice through shedding buckets of blood.
Unfortunately, law in reality exists in a real & imperfect world. It is applied the best and most consistent way possible. Perfect justice is never done. I don’t think our Founding Fathers ever foresaw executing the nation’s chief executive and I’m not surprised it’s never happened. I’m so thankfully absolutists like you will never control the levers of power.
I sympathize with many of the crimes you speak about & acknowledge their severity. I don’t acknowledge yr remedy as being either possible or desirable.
“People like you remind me of the Robbespierres of the world. Seeking to attain universal justice through shedding buckets of blood.”
But I’m not the one who wrote up and enacted an item of United States legislation known as the War Crimes Act which mandates the death penalty for precisely the sort of crimes we are talking about. That was done by the “Robbespierres” of the U.S. Congress. I’m merely advocating the application of existing law.
If you think the War Crimes Act is a lousy piece of legislation, I’m happy to hear your arguments. If on the other hand, the point is that United States officials, (you know, the people who actually HAVE shed “buckets of blood” in this world) ought to be immune from the law, that’s also your prerogative. Obviously, many disagree, particularly the survivors of My Lai, Haditha, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Fallujah, Abu Ghraib and all the other U.S. torture chambers, the Iraq war overall (a stupendous war crime), and so forth.
Famous author and Charles Manson prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi has just released a book calling for Bush to be tried for murder. He says the case is exceptionally strong and as prosecutor, he would seek the death penalty. (Bugliosi has never lost a murder case.)
Former Reagan admin Assistant Secretary of the Treasury Paul Craig Roberts happens to have a fine article today speaking to the topic of American hypocrisy concerning war crimes:
Peter Barker says
Granted, Roosevelt believed in strengthening the welfare state, as did Bismarck, and he loved animals, was a keen conservationist, an inspiring speaker etc. etc. (the parallels are obvious – at least he wasn`t a vegetarian); but surely in the minus column is his clear advocacy for teutonic (his word) domination of North America. The excerpts of his books I have read are toe-curlingly embarrassing – lots of talk about the superior Anglo-Saxon race and inferior Indians and how the strong races should dominate the weaker ones. Somehow, all this chilling justification for mass murder is shrugged off because an American President wrote it.