Why F. Scott Fitzgerald and Theodore Roosevelt Would Support a Second Run for President by Donald J. Trump
Something Nick Carraway, in The Great Gatsby, says about Tom and Daisy Buchanan seems to apply, these days, to our totalitarian-minded leftists. What Carraway, the narrator in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic novel, says is that the Buchanan's are "careless people" who "let other people clean up the mess they had made." Behold Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and her bunch.
Earlier in the novel, Carraway indicates to Gatsby that he is better than the Buchanans and their crowd all put together. These observations come to mind in the context of the ongoing putdowns of former President Trump by the deep staters, the NeverTrump people -- and also by the semi-NeverTrump crowd that might be willing to go along with his economic and social agenda, but shrink from the notion that he should get another chance at the White House.
Shifting from Fitzgerald to Theodore Roosevelt, in a Trump context, the folks who admit that the former president did wonders for the economy (and with coming up with Covid-19 vaccines, by the way), should be interested to know that good old T.R. might have slapped Mr. Trump on the back in enthusiastic concord with his way of going about the presidency. I say this based on my reading of a speech that T.R. gave at the Sorbonne, in Paris, April 23, 1910, a speech he called "Citizenship In a Republic." Later it became famous, known as "The Man In The Arena" speech because T.R. lauded the person who gets into the arena, as opposed to the sneering critic who "never tries to perform," and carries "an intellectual aloofness" indicating weakness, not superiority. The conservatives who would favor the Trump agenda but not the man might give him some credit for having been willing to get down into the dust of the arena, and battle for them.
T.R. indicated that he had little use for "the man who sneers alike at both criticism and performance." And Donald J. Trump had a horde of leftist critics who denounced him, simply for being president; his success in performance was irrelevant to their carping.
Here is the best-known paragraph from the speech, the paragraph that gave this address its popular name:
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.
Photo by Charles Mace, Library of Congress Collection
But there is more in T.R.'s speech, more than a century past, of current relevance. How can one read this observation and not think of Biden: the man who would gain power by promising what cannot be performed is "not merely useless but noxious."
So many of the shrill attacks on former President Trump denounced his America First policy, castigating him for isolating the United States from its allies. The Republicans anxious to throw Mr. Trump overboard the SS GOP should be interested to learn that T.R. would not only approve the Trumpian approach to foreign policy, he actually stated that such an American First foreign policy, based on patriotism, was essential for positive international relations. There can be no denying that T.R. would be proud of Donald J. Trump. The following passage is self-explanatory in this regard:
Let me say at once that I am no advocate of foolish cosmopolitanism. I believe that a man must be a good patriot before he can be, and as the only possible way of being, a good citizen of the world. Experience teaches us that the average man who protests that his international feeling swamp his national feeling, that he does not care for his country because he cares so much for mankind, in actual practice proves himself the foe of mankind; that the man who says that he does not care to be a citizen of any one country because he is a citizen of the world, is in fact usually and exceedingly undesirable citizen of whatever corner of the world that he happens at the moment to be in.... [I]f a man can view his own country and all other countries for the same level with tepid indifference, it is wise to distrust him, just as it is wise to distrust the man who can take the same dispassionate view of his wife and mother....
T.R continued, stating his notion of "a strong "patriotic nation" and "the true patriot":
[S]o I think that the most useful member of the family of nations is normally a strong patriotic nation. So far from patriotism being inconsistent with a proper regard for the rights of other nations, I hold that the true patriot, who is as jealous of the national honor as a gentleman of his own honor, will be careful to see that the nation neither inflicts nor suffers wrong....
For T.R., as the foregoing passage makes clear, a patriotic America first policy leads to useful membership in "the family of nations." For T.R., the so-called "citizen of the world" is both an "undesirable citizen" and "the foe of mankind."
During his four years as president, the torrent of abuse from the Obama/Clinton mob, from the deep state-aligned bureaucracy, from the leftists backed by their NeverTrump fellow-travelers, seemed to leave President Trump isolated -- without an ally in the American political world. Yet, to his credit, he never caved in to his enemies. Is he, in 2024, to be faulted for having stood up to his enemies to the best of his ability?
Another quotation from T.R.'s address at the Sorbonne is also quite relevant in providing an accurate description of the true character of Donald J. Trump, an observation well-suited for our MAGA president:
"We seriously and earnestly believe in peace; but if peace and justice conflict, we scorn the man who would not stand for justice though the whole world came in arms against him."
Clearly, this statement applies to Donald J. Trump who stands for the justice of Americanism, though the whole leftist world stands against him. Donald J. Trump should not face the enemies of democracy alone.
Those Republicans who, although not strong NeverTrump politicos, but susceptible to the massive media campaign against Mr. Trump, would do well to consider, with a nod to F. Scott Fitzgerald, that he is much better than the whole lot of the Biden crowd, a crowd who makes messes for others to clean up. And those queasy Republicans should, by way of T.R.'s teaching, realize, at long last, that Donald J. Trump does not bow and scrape before his enemies but stands tall and valiant, and, as current exemplar of T.R.'s emphasis on the need of patriotism as the keystone of foreign policy, merits serious consideration for another run for the White House.
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