A review Of Theodore The Great: Conservative Crusader By Daniel Ruddy
Is Donald Trump the 21st Century Teddy Roosevelt?
A new book by historian Daniel Ruddy makes one stop and think.
“While astute observers saw the seeds of greatness [in him] years before he reached the White House, others saw a quick-tempered, impetuous and potentially dangerous man who could not be trusted to wield presidential power. He never shook off his reputation for rash behavior but he did…use it to his advantage especially in foreign affairs.”
Ruddy is describing Theodore Roosevelt in his new book, Theodore The Great: Conservative Crusader, but the 2016 reader could be forgiven if his mind wanders to another “potentially dangerous man” — Donald Trump. (Especially this close to Election Day.)
In fact, although Ruddy believes that Teddy “wouldn’t approve” of Trump, he provides a compelling picture of their similarities.
The Roosevelt that Ruddy describes was — as Trump is today — a conservative who derided socialism and felt that it led to a societal degeneration in values and work ethic. But both men donned the armor of pragmatism as they went to battle for their conservative ideology. In language that evokes the Donald as well as TR, Ruddy writes that “At his core, Roosevelt was a conservative who used progressive language to inspire a spirit of nationalism in the American people…He had not a smidgen of ambivalence about American power or his country’s place in the world.”
Theodore worked to convert capitalism into nationalism even as Trump seeks to replace globalism with national fervor.
The men were a lot alike personally. Both incredibly focused on achieving their objectives, they brushed aside those who stood in their way. The two men pushed the envelope of acceptable discourse, making politics a personal crusade against those they saw as evil.
Ruddy notes that House Speaker Thomas (Czar) Reed called Roosevelt a “man of blood and iron,” evoking comparisons with German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck. Similar worries about Trump’s ruthlessness dot today’s landscape. He is a man who doesn’t really fit in any more than Theodore fit in among the grey figures that populated American politics after Lincoln’s death.
Theodore’s reputation for shooting from the hip earned him the tag “that damned cowboy” from Republican boss Mark Hanna, a sobriquet that could as easily describe the loose-lipped Donald Trump.
Ruddy’s book is a wonderful portrait of Teddy Roosevelt and the start of the Progressive Era.
But there’s a bonus: it is also relevant to understanding Trump. To find out how an outsider who is committed to shaking up the system comes to grips with it as President, read Ruddy’s book on Theodore Roosevelt, but apply the lessons to Donald Trump. They were cut from the same cloth.
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