All the bullish talk by President George W. Bush conjures images of the United States’s strong-arm presidents – Reagan, Jackson – and most interestingly, Teddy Roosevelt. Consider the similarities: Both are running turn-of-the-century presidencies. Roosevelt dealt with anarchists, while Bush is dealing with terrorists. Both men seem to have an uncanny connection to the common man. But Bush is not Teddy Roosevelt. If anything, Bush is the complete antithesis of Teddy Roosevelt.
Roosevelt, a New Yorker, sought out the financially corrupt by attacking huge monopolies such as Standard Oil, United States Steel Corporation and the Northern Securities Company. Bush, a Texan, has a brotherly relationship with companies known for shady, if not illegal, dealings such as Halliburton, Harken Energy, Enron and others. Under Roosevelt’s supervision, trusts were busted. Yet, under Bush’s watch, large-scale mergers occur more frequently. Bush has not discouraged the affluent from building monopolies. The airline mergers, AOL Time Warner, Clear Channel, Waste Management and numerous others have continued to stunt competition and prove this point.
Roosevelt was a naturalist who loved horses that ate hay. Bush is an oilman who loves sport utility vehicles that eat fossil fuels.
Perhaps the largest chasm between the presidents exists in their respective environmental policies. Roosevelt led a movement against the dearth of environmental humanity by preserving and instituting the national parks system. Bush is leading a movement against the national parks system by trying to deregulate lands former President Clinton declared national parks. In fact, Bush has led an assault on the environmental policy through legislation advocating drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, cutting trees in national forests, allowing all-terrain vehicles in Yellowstone National Park, reducing emissions controls and allowing arsenic in water. According to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D.-Calif., the Bush administration is wreaking havoc on environmental laws that took 30 years to implement.
Roosevelt successfully hunted down wild animals. Bush failed to hunt down Osama bin Laden.
Additionally, in light of military exploits, as part of the Rough Riders, Roosevelt volunteered for and led an assault on San Juan Hill. Wait, isn’t Bush leading an assault against Yucca Mountain? But seriously, Bush avoided warfare in Vietnam because of a letter from his then-Texas senator father for a National Guard commission. The military comparisons end there.
Lastly, Bush is a slogan man; he is known for phrases such as “compassionate conservative” and “axis of evil.” Teddy’s slogan was “speak softly and carry a big stick.” Bush’s slogan should be “speak boldly and hope everyone forgets.” Bush has continually used the press pulpit to pledge reductions in the size of government, the punishment of corporate wrongdoers and the safety of Social Security. In contrast, Homeland Security has bloated the bureaucracy, Social Security surpluses have been raided and Ken Lay and friends enjoy ski trips in Colorado. These promises have been boldly expounded to the media and then quietly swept under the rug. Teddy had his muckrakers Upton Sinclair and Ida Tarbell dragging the filth of corruption into the open light. Meanwhile, President Bush uses his broomsmen – Karl Rove and Ari Fleischer.
All comparisons aside, this much is certain – if Bush continues breaking promises, he won’t be the fifth face on Mount Rushmore.
Karl Noyes is a University freshman and a member of the Minnesota Daily’s editorial board.
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