Trump and TR: Presidential Parallels
The corporate media has made a fundamental mistake in dealing with President Donald J Trump. Day after day Trump is attacked with made-up conspiracies and personal innuendo and when the president defends himself, they say he doesn't look "presidential." But the American people know he is defending their interests. President Trump is not the problem, Trump is the solution.
At his campaign rallies, President Trump has remarked that many compare his election in 2016 to that of Andrew Jackson in 1828.
President Trump prominently displays a painting of Andrew Jackson in the Oval office. Jackson, America’s seventh president, was a no-nonsense populist, one ranked high in leadership ability by U.S. historians. The selection of the Ralph E. W. Earl portrait by the president suggests the direction Trump wants to lead the country in and the chief executive he deems worthy of emulation.
Andrew Jackson, like Trump, was an outsider who advocated a populist agenda championing the common man over corrupt government institutions and private financiers and stock jobbers whose financial interests and profits took priority over any allegiance to country.
But a far more compelling historic parallel exists with another outspoken New Yorker and similarly ostracized Republican -- Theodore Roosevelt.
Roosevelt hailed from Manhattan while Trump was born in Queens. Like Trump, Roosevelt was utterly despised by a GOP Republican establishment that did everything to render him impotent. Roosevelt would be denied the Republican presidential nomination by party insiders in 1912.
Because of his forthright opinions, the GOP regulars relegated Roosevelt to dead-end positions first as U.S. Civil Service Commissioner 1889, then as Assistant Secretary of the Navy 1897. Undaunted, Roosevelt turned all those positions into springboards for further advancement.
Roosevelt resigned as assistant secretary at the start of the Spanish American War in 1898 and formed his own regiment of “Rough Riders.” A hero in that war, he became governor of New York. Barely a year into his term, the Republican establishment bosses wanted him out of New York and thought the safest place to put him was as VP on the GOP ballot with William McKinley.
But the unthinkable happened. McKinley was assassinated in 1901. Roosevelt became president. GOP party leader and US senator Mark Hanna despairingly exclaimed on behalf of the old guard, “now that damned cowboy is in the White House.” The GOP establishment was similarly apoplectic when Donald Trump, who humbly referred to himself as a “redneck from Fifth Ave,” won the 2016 presidential election.
Roosevelt, like Trump, was charged with not being a real conservative. As president, Roosevelt advocated ‘executive stewardship.’ He saw himself as a steward working on behalf of the people in an industrial age of huge corporate trusts in which their voice was diminished. Roosevelt championed free competition, what he called a ‘Square Deal.’ Trump too encourages what he calls free and fair trade for the American people.
A strong proponent of the nation-state, Roosevelt like Trump decidedly opposed the internationalism of the Republican big business, chamber of commerce establishment types. The Trump Doctrine battles against any global treaty that signs away U.S. sovereignty to unelected international bureaucrats.
Trump’s conservatism, like Roosevelt’s, is one based on commonsense and prudence. It is practical, not theoretical and looks disdainfully upon abstract neoconservative ideologies about ‘world community’, ‘nation building’ or ‘the end of history’.
Before the advent of television, Roosevelt used his office as a ‘bully pulpit’ to advocate his policies. Roosevelt, a master self-promoter, became the first president to invite the press into the White House. Previously they stood outside in inclement weather. Roosevelt was also the first President to publicly disparage the press as ‘muckrakers.’ Today Trump calls it ‘fake news’ and uses Twitter as his bully pulpit to communicate directly with the American people going over the heads of special interest of the corporate media.
Roosevelt, like Trump, did not shy away from the use of tough language which became instant sound bites. He once called the president of Venezuela, “an unspeakably villainous little monkey.” During the election of 1912, President Taft was labeled a ‘fat head.’
Long before Twitter, Roosevelt used the telegraph effectively. When U.S. citizen, Ion Perdicaris was captured in Morocco and the kidnapper, a Berber chief named Raisuli, sought ransom; President Roosevelt instructed Secretary of State John Hay to cable a message, which President Trump would be proud to own as a Tweet. The cable message read, “Perdicaris alive or Raisuli dead”. The hostage was immediately released.
Roosevelt's tough talk led to peaceful resolution of disputes like the United Mine Workers coal strike in 1902. He had a penchant for bringing warring parties together and making deals, as he did in ending the Russo-Japanese War, in 1905 for which he won the Nobel Peace Prize.
President Trump has also demonstrated great diplomatic skills. His peace initiative with North Korea was just the beginning. President Trump has been nominated for the Nobel Prize for his efforts for peace between Israel and the United Arab Emirates and between Serbia and Kosovo.
President Trump has been called every name in the book by the mass media except what he truly is which -- a great reformer. This too is a parallel to Theodore Roosevelt.
Despite all the manufactured polls and tumultuous disinformation employed by the carnival-barking media, President Trump appears to be Niagarously roaring toward re-election victory.
Perhaps for his second term, he might consider replacing the portrait of Andrew Jackson in the Oval office with one of his fellow New Yorker: rambunctious Theodore Roosevelt, who also spoke his mind and didn't back down in defense of his country.
Images: LoC, Gage Skidmore