Jonah Goldberg responding to the president’s citation of TR as a campaign tactic:
Obama cherry-picks TR’s “new nationalism” as a justification for his own agenda and proof that today’s Republicans are extreme… TR left the Republican party to promote his “new nationalism” philosophy and run as a Progressive — a “super socialist,” in the words of the New York Times in 1913.
As a Republican president, Roosevelt had been a “trust buster.” As Progressive gadfly, Roosevelt believed in making the trusts bigger, stronger, and more entwined with the federal government, orchestrated by an all-powerful “Federal Bureau of Corporations.”
“Concentration, cooperation, and control,” he explained in his acceptance speech at the 1912 Progressive convention, “are the key words for a scientific solution of the mighty industrial problem which now confronts this nation.”
It’s no surprise Obama would find the Progressive Teddy so reasonable.
Obviously, there’s more to be said about Obama’s Kansas speech. An excellent place to start is NR’s editorial. You might also want to see my column today. But here are a few more points in rapid fire:
1. Nationalism = socialism. I’ve been saying for years that the presumption that nationalism and socialism are opposites — an idea ingrained in many Marxist minds — is nonsense. Nationalism, in terms of public policy if not necessarily culture, is socialism. When we nationalize health care, we socialize medicine. Teddy Roosevelt’s “new nationalism” was a call for a “new socialism” — a point his advisers, Charles van Hise, Richard Ely et al., would have happily conceded.
2. President Obama has been shockingly nationalistic. Sputnik moments, “Beat China!” “We owe it to the troops to support green energy,” “Kneel Before Zod!” And now he disinters Teddy Roosevelt’s “new nationalism.” In actual policy terms, he’s been vastly more nationalistic than George W. Bush was. The difference is that liberals hate cultural nationalism. They hate it so much they even see overt displays of patriotism as scarily nationalistic. But they love programmatic nationalism — Everyone shut up and build things liberal like! The danger is when you get cultural nationalists joining forces with socialists. In fact, that’s called national-socialism. Maybe you’ve heard of it?
3. Where the hell are the “new ideas”? Perhaps because I wrote a book arguing that liberalism remains loyal to the progressive philosophy first laid out over a century ago, or maybe because my next book is in no small part about how they try to hide this fact, I’m particularly vexed by the fact that conservatives are supposedly in thrall to “old ideas” but liberals are all about new ones. In his Kansas speech, Obama kept insisting that conservatives are beholden to the failed ideas of the past. Er, okay. And that’s why you dusted off a 101-year-old speech by a failed third-party candidate? Got it. Obama talks as if raising taxes on rich people so they can pay their “fair share” is a new idea when “let’s take more from that guy to pay for stuff I want” was an old idea when proto-humans were drawing stick figures on cave walls with saber-tooth-tiger scat. And yet somehow Republican politicians never turn the tables on this incandescently stupid argument. It vexes me. I am exceedingly vexed.