Sunday, March 21, 2010

Barack Obama Channeling Theodore Roosevelt to Retroactively Endorse Obamacare

Something else in President Obama's speech on Friday...

This isn't the first time this point of drivel has come up in the current debate on healthcare, but here's another item President Obama has used in the past and repeated again at George Mason University to buttress his case:



THE PRESIDENT: A few miles from here, Congress is in the final stages of a fateful debate about the future of health insurance in America. (Applause.) It's a debate that's raged not just for the past year but for the past century. One thing when you're in the White House, you've got a lot of history books around you. (Laughter.) And so I've been reading up on the history here. Teddy Roosevelt, Republican, was the first to advocate that everybody get health care in this country. (Applause.) Every decade since, we've had Presidents, Republicans and Democrats, from Harry Truman to Richard Nixon to JFK to Lyndon Johnson to -- every single President has said we need to fix this system.

~~~


So here's my bottom line. I know this has been a difficult journey. I know this will be a tough vote. ["Present"] I know that everybody is counting votes right now in Washington. But I also remember a quote I saw on a plaque in the White House the other day. It's hanging in the same room where I demanded answers from insurance executives and just received a bunch of excuses. And it was a quote from Teddy Roosevelt, the person who first called for health care reform -- that Republican -- all those years ago. And it said, "Aggressively fighting for the right is the noblest sport the world affords."


Well I'm sure that quote's taken into complete context, ain't it? Here's something else he said:

If an American is to amount to anything he must rely upon himself, and not upon the State; he must take pride in his own work, instead of sitting idle to envy the luck of others. He must face life with resolute courage, win victory if he can, and accept defeat if he must, without seeking to place on his fellow man a responsibility which is not theirs


Now, I don't know how passing health care will play politically -- but I know it's right. (Applause.) Teddy Roosevelt knew it was right.


Didn't Teddy Roosevelt come to regret that decision? Or was it just his decision to go third party fringie in 1912, which he later regretted?

In any event, I am seeing different articles come up that are distorting and failing to make the distinction that Theodore Roosevelt wasn't the GOP president at the time he was supporting a platform of universal healthcare (in an era 100 yrs removed from our own, present day reality of 305 million + illegals), but the Progressive candidate, to the left of the GOP.


Politifact has it that President Obama's use of Teddy Roosevelt as a supporter of national healthcare coverage puts him on "solid ground", and his claim to be true.

In some cases (such as the delivery of his George Mason speech) I believe President Obama oversteps the bounds when he blurs the distinction that Theodore Roosevelt was not a Republican president at the time, but the Progressive candidate when he ran on a platform that included nationalized healthcare.

Even Politifact includes in its piece the following information (emphases, mine):


We wondered whether Roosevelt really proposed reform on the scale of the near-universal health care Obama advocates, or if the new president was pushing the whole bipartisan-appeal thing a bit far.

We consulted two well-regarded biographers of Roosevelt, H.W. Brands and Kathleen Dalton. Both confirmed that in 1912, when the former Republican president was running as a Progressive Party candidate for what would have been his third term (after a four-year break), the party advocated national health insurance in its platform.

Health care was the 11th issue listed under "Social and Industrial Justice," after occupational safety, a child labor prohibition, a minimum wage, "one day's rest in seven" and other progressive ideas.

"The supreme duty of the Nation is the conservation of human resources through an enlightened measure of social and industrial justice," the platform said. "We pledge ourselves to work unceasingly in State and Nation for ... the protection of home life against the hazards of sickness, irregular employment and old age through the adoption of a system of social insurance adapted to American use."

"What this envisioned was pretty much what FDR accomplished with Social Security, but with health insurance added," said Brand, author of TR: The Last Romantic (1998).

"We don’t know the specifics of the plan," said Dalton, author of Theodore Roosevelt: A Strenuous Life (2002). "The roots were probably British, though he knew about German health insurance."

Dalton said unequivocally Obama was on solid ground evoking Roosevelt. Brands more or less agreed, though he cautioned that health care was "not the priority that trust-busting or conservation was" for Roosevelt. "It's worth remembering that health care was a far smaller concern in those days," Brands said. "Doctors had few medicines, and most people died or got better on their own. The biggest issues were public health — eradicating malaria, cleaning up water supplies, and so on."

In Healthcare Reform in America: A Reference Handbook (2004), Jennie Kronenfeld, a sociology professor at Arizona State University, writes that "this was the first inclusion of a health insurance plank in any national platform with a major candidate, although the Socialist Party had endorsed a compulsory system as early as 1904."

Roosevelt and the Progressives, nicknamed the Bull Moose Party, lost the election to Woodrow Wilson, the Democratic Party candidate. Republican William Taft finished third.



Roosevelt as a Progressive. Not as Republican.

Apparently, aside from Lincoln, President Obama has been reading a biography of Teddy Roosevelt, these days.



So here we have another one of those deceits that President Obama uses: The illusion of bipartisan support for his brand of healthcare reform. He does this when he claims his proposal has taken "the best ideas from both Republicans and Democrats (paraphrase)"; and he does this when he reaches back 100 years, to something a former Republican president supported as a third party Progressive candidate.

Every single Republican in the House and Senate stand in opposition to Obamacare. The bipartisanship is happening in opposition to the president's healthcare proposal.

Cross-posted at Flopping Aces

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2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The other point that seems to totally escape Obama is that we don't live in Theodore Roosevelt's era. 85% of Americans have health insurance now which makes the level of need far different from what it was in TR's time.

TR also never got a chance to see the inefficiency and fraud that plague both Medicare and Social Security. Given the poor management under which they operate, I'm not sure that, as president, he would deem the government competent to run another large-scale entitlement program. In fact, he might be the one asking Congress to start from scratch.

Sunday, March 21, 2010 11:57:00 AM  
Blogger jferguson said...

Thank you for stating a TRUE view of Theodore Roosevelt's. He believed in an independent, hardworking, and ACCOUNTABLE man. Ironically, Obama is doing exactly what TR accused politicians of doing in his own time--of using virtuous ideas and "words" to cloak the dirty motives of politicians. Virtuous ideals are not punchlines or sound bites. Shame on Obama for abusing the theoretical ideas of one of our most virtuous presidents.
And good point about keeping in mind the context of the times. The issues of sheer population numbers and immigrant influx would surely have altered TR's thoughts on healthcare.
Every time a good man's words are abused by Obama a whole generation of people are led astray. I never studied TR in school. But we spent 2 weeks on Carter--now liberals are degrading the few good presidents left to discover. Is America reaching its end?

Monday, March 22, 2010 8:19:00 PM  

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