via NRO: New Nationalism, Old Liberalism
It is strange that Pres. Barack Obama has chosen to channel the spirit of Pres. Theodore Roosevelt, the president he least resembles. Teddy Roosevelt was a rough-riding, safari-loving, war-adoring imperialist (ask the Panamanians), the man who sent the “Great White Fleet” on a round-the-world tour to make it clear to American rivals hither and yon that they had better mind their own business or face the wrath of a budding world power. Barack Obama was an undistinguished law professor and legislative back-bencher who once gave a very good speech. Roosevelt wrote 18 books on subjects ranging from naval warfare to naturalism, and not one soft-focus psychological self-examination about his tender feelings about his estranged father. Like President Obama, President Roosevelt was the recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. Unlike President Obama, he earned it, having successfully negotiated the end of the Russo-Japanese War.
Not exactly mirror images.
And yet Barack Obama, the great indoorsman and man of inaction, whose only instinct when faced with a national crisis is to deliver yet another speech, has trundled himself down to Osawatomie, Kan., where TR, by that point an ex-president, made his famous “New Nationalism” address, to try to get a little of that Bull Moose magic to rub off on himself. Color us skeptical, but we can see why TR’s New Nationalism might appeal to Barack Obama: It was an early instantiation of what our National Review colleague Jonah Goldberg has called, after H. G. Wells, “liberal fascism,” the central-planning, top-down, intrusively managerial approach to national government that has been the Left’s model for generations.
President Obama’s speech, like President Roosevelt’s, was economically illiterate. Like TR, he juxtaposed the tycoons and the middle class, and committed the classic blunder of conflating the success of the former with the difficulties of the latter. The Democrat carried into office on a wave of Wall Street money called for a crackdown on Wall Street shenanigans even as he packs his administration with Wall Street veterans, while the Washington establishment’s perverse relations with Wall Street, and, especially, with the mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, mighty contributors to the housing bubble, go unchallenged. It’s only greed when somebody else is making the money.