Wednesday, January 24, 2007
We owed them our loyalty, as Americans, and we gave it. But they owed us - sound judgment, clear thinking, concern for our welfare, a guarantee that the threat to our country was equal to the price we might be called upon to pay in defending it.
--Senator Jim Webb, D-VA, Democratic Response to the 6th Bush SOTU
Did Jim Webb, intentionally or not, declare his existential candidacy for president last evening?
I say this because the conclusion to Mr. Webb’s scene stealing speech made reference to President Theodore Roosevelt’s standoff with the robber barons in the years following 1900.
The so-called robber barons were unapologetically raking in a huge percentage of the national wealth. The dispossessed workers at the bottom were threatening revolt.
Roosevelt spoke strongly against these divisions. He told his fellow Republicans that they must set themselves "as resolutely against improper corporate influence on the one hand as against demagogy and mob rule on the other." And he did something about it.
Roosevelt came to the Presidency via an indirect path when William McKinley’s weak-hearted Veep, Garrett A. Hobart, died unexpectedly on November 21, 1899.
The former Assistant Secretary for the Navy, war hero and anti-corruption Governor of New York was then forced upon the seemingly imperial McKinley by Republican Party bosses and against the wishes of McKinley’s political and fund-raising Svengali Mark Hanna.
Hanna, the strategist, influence peddler and product of the political and business corruption growing out of the wealth produced by the industrial revolution, had guided McKinley’s first election in 1896 and wanted to insure a Republican majority for decades into the new 20th century.
Hanna’s plans were dashed when McKinley was assassinated on September 6, 1901 and died on September 14, 1901.
While the McKinley/Hanna and Bush/Rove parallels are, obviously, not a perfect fit those that come close still tantalize a flabby brain's brain and myself.
Now after all the dizzying time contortions and recasting I’m wondering if Senator Jim Webb of Virginia will ascend to the moderate but firm center and the role of President Roosevelt?
Stranger things have happened.
Images: Reuters, Wikipedia