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The Contrarian: Teddy Roosevelt Laid Bare

Barack Obama’s admiration for the progressive Republicanism of Theodore Roosevelt ignores the true nature of both early 20th-century America and the president who embodied it, argues Tim Stanley.

'An Eruption of Mount Teddy', an illustration from the US magazine 'Puck', May 1906Barack Obama has started his fight for a second term as President of the United States. Part of his strategy is to paint the contemporary Republican Party as an extremist departure from its historical roots. In December 2011 he gave a speech in which he allied himself with the older, gentler Republican tradition of Progressivism – the political movement that dominated America in the early 20th century. Obama invoked the memory of President Theodore ‘Teddy’ Roosevelt (‘the Republican son of a wealthy family’) who believed that: ‘Our country means nothing unless it means the triumph of a real democracy … of an economic system under which each man shall be guaranteed the opportunity to show the best that there is in him.’

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