President Obama has at various times during his campaign and presidency been John F. Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy, Abraham Lincoln, Ronald Reagan and Harry S Truman.
Oh, and Herbert Hoover and Jimmy Carter. And, you know, with all the golf, Dwight Eisenhower.
But forget those people. Washington is abuzz about Obama’s latest incarnation. Now he knows who he is. He’s Teddy Roosevelt.
Obama is in Osawatomie, Kansas today reprising a the famous “New Nationalism” speech Roosevelt offered up in the same city, where he said stuff Obama loves, like this:
Now, this means that our government, National and State, must be freed from the sinister influence or control of special interests. Exactly as the special interests of cotton and slavery threatened our political integrity before the Civil War, the great special business interests too often control and corrupt the men and methods of government for their own profit. We must drive the special interests out of politics. That is one of our tasks to-day.
It’s almost touching to see the White House cast about for role models, catch phrases, and attack lines for the president. It’s certainly pathetic.
Obama’s aides have for months now been entirely focused on the right recipe for portraying their man – and his opponents – in order to achieve reelection. They’ve completely put aside the business of governing, deciding they’ll get to that in 2013.
There’s such irony in Obama’s sudden lunge for the Teddy Roosevelt mantle. I’m no TR scholar, but I do know something about him. I’d wager that Teddy Roosevelt would be striving at all costs to fix the economy – not sending Congress loaded proposals designed to show them up as uncaring bastards while buffing his own image as the true friend of the people.
The leader of the Rough Riders and the negotiator of the Treaty of Portsmouth – which ended the Russo-Japanese War in 1905 – would have sequestered members of the failed “special deficit committee” in some corner of the White House – perhaps what is today known as the “Roosevelt Room” – and cracked their heads together until they came up with a plan.
Obama let the panel fail and then seized the moment to castigate the GOP. Roosevelt would have put country above self preservation, something, of course, he’d done in battle.
What’s more, Obama’s senior advisers have failed to recognize the political juice in striking deals that help the country. No wonder people like David Plouffe, who ran the 2008 campaign, rule the roost in the West Wing, while Chief of Staff William Daley, a veteran Washington dealmaker, is undermined by his colleagues in the press and wanders the halls waiting either for his sacking or January 2013, whichever comes first.
Roosevelt won his Nobel Peace Prize for the Treaty of Portsmouth. It sits in the West Wing chamber that bears his name.
Obama won his Nobel Peace Prize for . . . nothing.