tv [untitled] February 26, 2012 7:30pm-8:00pm EST
he allowed people to have a weekend pass in prison. one was willie horton. >> randomly shot at civilians. >> we can all point to an outrageous commercial or two or three or four. but on average, negative commercials are more likely to be factually correct and negative commercials are more likely to talk about issues. a new foundation discussion looks at current political and past campaign and their impact on american culture. look at this and past panels at political lives on line at the cspan political library. search, watch, clip and share. it's what you want when you want. next a discussion which compares and contrasts the political philosophy of theodore
roosevelt and barack obama. in 1910, shtheodore roosevelt delivered his speech. last year, president obama went to the same town in which roosevelt made his speech and spoke about the economy. this two-hour speech was filmed by the hudson institute in washington, d.c. >> is c-span ready? good. get underway.
good afternoon. aim bill shambra, director of hudson institute's bradley center for philanthropy and civic renewal. christie mcintire and i welcome you to today's panel discussion called osowatamie then and now. the title of today's panel osawatamie then and now, i confess, may be a bit misleading. if you're expecting a pageant with our panel reenacting scenes, you'll be sorely disappointed. i tried to talk them into it but it was a no go. just a little over 100 years ago on august 1st, 1910, former president theodore roosevelt mounted a kitchen table on the grounds of the 2 22-acre state
park. he was helping to dedicate john brown state park and delivered what has gone down in history as his new nationalism speech. it certainly wouldn't have gone down in history as the john brown speech since slavery was in that spot. much to the relief of his advisers, i should add, who knew that tr was one of those politicians who also regarded himself as something of a histori historian, although the corporations to this day were not about to pay him for his historical advice. the new nationalism speech would be described by one of tr's many biographers, george mowry, as, quote, the most radical speech ever given. the power to which the extent of
a powerful federal government could regulate and use private property in the interest of the hall and his declaration to that labor, and viewed with the eyes of 1910 were nothing short of revolutionary. on december 6, 2011, president barack obama returned to osawatamie, and standing on a platform somewhat more secure than a kitchen table explicitly embraced the underlying philosophy of tr's new internationals. a democrat member of the party would customarily recur to the other roosevelt especially in hard times should in this instance embrace the republican roosevelt will no doubt be explored today under the other issues in this discussion we're about to hear. and we have a terrific panel for that discussion composed of prominent political analysts who know a great deal about both the progressive era as well as contemporary politics. i'll introduce her as my
co-moderator for the day, e.j.dion, "washington post" columnist who will later make some introductory remarks and comment on the presentations after they've been made. then we'll hear from a couple university of virginia professors, sid milkus, author of a book called "theodore roosevelt progressive party and transformation of american policy." next we'll hear from john houseman, and finally matt spalding, vice president for american studies at heritage foundation. so, e.j., first, it's great to see so many people here. happy holidays and to those who celebrate the merry christmas and happy hanukkah. i want to thank my friend bill ch
chambra for putting together what is a genuinely fairly unbalanced event. bill and i have agreed on the importance of community and disagreeing on what progresses make of the community for about that long. it's just great. i was remembering the series of books. some of you may be able to remember them. they were history books for kids called landmark books that i think random house. for some reason a blurb on the back stated, anyone who has not feasted upon them has been cheated. anyone who has not feasted upon sid's book about the 1911 election is cheated. jim caesar is absolutely brilliant and i find myself disagreeing with jim, but it is
highly risky because he's so damn smart. forgive the damn on cspan. and yet i try to live dangerously but it's a real honor to be with sid. john halpin has done exceptional work at cap. liberals not surprisingly are not nearly as good as conservatives are in remembering, honoring and thinking about their own tradition. i think by very nature conservatives are more inclined to think of what a tradition means. what john has done at cap, i think is truly important and i want to salute him and also his colleague. finally, matt spalding and i have also had a running argument for many years over the social gospel movement back in the turn of the century. so i feel -- and he has done some great work on that even though we don't always agree. and so what you have here are a whole lot of people obsessed with america in the 1912, and we
will try to show how that is entirely related to america in 2012. it is the centennial of that great election, and this election may be as important as that one was. and so i just want to thank everyone, and they know what the order is. i think sid is going next. >> good afternoon, everybody. thanks so much for coming. thanks for having me. it's an honor to be here. god bless you for shouting out about my book. it might be a little hyperbole, but i'll take the compliment. i was not surprised to see president obama channelling theodore roosevelt in osawatamie, kansas. in the last chapter of my book that was published on the
crusade, he suggested that the election of the first african-american president revealed that the principles and practices championed by the bull moose campaign had become a powerful and enduring force in american light. i went so far as to claim that obama and his campaign marked the apotheosis of american democracy. i must confess i'm not quite sure what i meant by that, but it sort of sounded right. it seemed after three decadesin ronald reagan's restrain, the government was no longer the solution, but now the problem obama brought back into full release the promise and the peril of a powerful strain of progressionism launched by t.r. in kansas. like t.r., obama identified with lincoln's measured but radical
pursuit of emancipation. like t.r., too, obama presented himself as a transcendent leader. as roosevelt famously put it in osawatanie, as the steward of polar warfare who could rise above conflict of his time, wokd rise above special interests. and justice t.r. thought to navigate a purposeful third way between socialism and capitalism, so obama became a leader who struggled over the welfare and national security stakes. of course, many hopes of obama's campaign has been bitterly disappointing. he has often -- he has embodied a hollowed out form of
progressionism that ran in his brilliant essay in 1970. he celebrated an executive center administrative state that exalted means over end, that taught to support the truth of first principles, the truth of the declaration. indeed, all doctrines in partisan dispute, democratic experimentation, as fdr later would put it, the bold persistent experimentation, disappointed with wilson's war to make the world safe of democracy. he argued it did not live up to its promise abroad and was badly betrayed at home and attacked by intellectuals like crowley who was the godfather of
internationalism. he attacked of pragmatic dissertation that made him totally unprepared for the idealistic focus on end. had he been around in 1929, he might have lacked the similar criticism against president obama's dogget in a fight of health reform, a battle he rightfully pointed out began with the progressive party campaign. he tended to eschew exalted moral principals, the claim that t.r. said health care was a human right, not a privilege, with dubious promises of greater efficiency and cost cutting. the highest rhetorical and programmatic aspiration of the health care fight was the public option.
you couldn't come up with a worst term. it testifies, i think, to contemporary, progressive, rhetorical challenge. can you imagine caesar and i calling the university of virginia the public option? that sort of has its ideal with the problem. although serious, and i think in some respects, very impressive effort to revive the calling of progressive democracy, obama's speech also reflects the life of reform in some ways. most effective parts of these through roosevelt's claim that massive disruptions in society and economy, the unleashing of powerful forces embody bid a giant corporation require that the national government roosevelt had the audacity to call it the national state had new responsibility to correct
the quality of opportunity. roosevelt believed that the free market is the greatest source for economic progress in human history. it led to a prosperity and a standard of living unmatched by the rest of the world. but roosevelt also knew, he continued, that the free market has never been a free license to take whatever you can from whomever you can. our country, he quoted from pr's address, means nothing unless it means the triumph of an economic system under which each man shall be guaranteed the opportunity to show the best that is in him. for this, obama continued, and if you watch the video, at this point he made a knowing gesture. for this, he said, roosevelt was called a radical, a socialist and even a communist. but today we are a richer nation and a stronger democracy because of what he fought for in his last campaign. and then the president listed roosevelt's leading proposals that have become an important
part of american politics. an eight-hour workday and a minimum wage for women, insurance for the unemployed, the elderly and those with disabilities, political reform and a progressive income. obama claimed that his reform program aspired to deploy a more specht active national government in the service of fair play that is neither social list nor catholic, that is neither democratic nor republican, that serves neither the tea party nor occupy wall street. that serve, he summed up, the progressive principles that were now interwoven through the fabric of life. that's all good enough, but i'm not sure obama's aspirations live up to that billing.
they seemed sort of cheap. they call for the extension in the sort tax and more generally in the tax code. these are important measures, to be sure, but he did not offer a strategic vision for a new political order, as pr did. nor did he explain how the landmark health care and financial reform legislation enacted in 2010, real important pieces of legislation, were the building blocks of a new foundation. the new foundation was a term tried out early in the presidency, but he did not revisit it, strangely. it is i and one of my more sober colleagues astonishing but perhaps telling that the president did not even mention health care reform. and it's particularly odd and astonishing because this is the signature achievement of his first term. this is the holy grail, or it had been the holy grail of
progressive democracy since t.r.'s bull moose campaign. true to his ruthless practicing -- pragmatish, as one put it, obama states more of guard than progressiveness. in contrast, roosevelt politica. t.r.'s speech was much more comprehensive, not just economic but also to citizenship, conservation and america's role in the world. furthermore, whereas obama's speech avoided what jim caesar calls foundational concept, t.r. framed his call for ambitious reform as all consequential fundamental principles of the declaration, the constitution and the progression between them. the 1910 speech was delivered at
the dedication, as bill mentioned, of the john brown battlefield. t.r. condemned the violent tactics of brown's plight in bloody kansas. he compared that plight to his own plight. he said in name we had the decoration of independent unde independence in 1776. but we didn't give the word acts until 1865, until the of the 13th amendment.rial revo price no greater than the civil war, showed alignment. a more f definition of the social contract, especially a rethinking of the right to property. as he put it in his new nationalism speech, the men who
wrongly hold that every newman plight is secondary to his process must now give way to the advocate of human welfare who now say that they hold a subject to every general right of the property, to regulate its use to whatever degree the public welfare may require. this suin to human welfare was not just defense of the welfare state or the regulatory state or attack on big business. aault on prope an awakening where americans might be emancipated for their obsession with the slavish pursuit of selfish materialism and becomes more committed to a sense of responsibility.
championing things like conservaon righteous useespecially. because t.r. believed these objectives would strengthen the fap rick of american society. it would help americans transend themselves in the way that would make for a great nation. righteousness, roosevelt proclaimed -- e.j. told me to pound the podium. i'm not going to. in new nationalism speech was the outlook. not required reading for this thing. in that longer speech he said, righteousness exhaltith the nation. this invocation of proverb in the king james version of the bible reveals how progressivism at its founding was infused with the social gospel.
a relij yosty that for better or worse obama and cop tentemporar progressives usually avoid. let me go back to a point that goes back to the beginning of my remarks. perhaps was born here the hollowing out of progressivism was the logical outcome of its fate -- the creed that human rights must take precedence over property rights was to rest on the shoulders of the steward of the public welfare. that is a real beguiling phrase that i still struggle to understand. matt suggested that this commitment to a presidency centered, executive centered democracy, showed a commitment to expertise. i'm not so sure of that. knowing that such a modern executive presupposed, as crowley put it, administrative
gran dizment, a kind of statism americans had not shunned and feared, t.r. insisted paradoxically the new state had to be connected vitally to public opinion. roosevelt's new nationalism, his dedication to state building, this distinguished him from his counterparts in western europe and great britain, he believed that state building had to go hand in hand, as he put it in the new nationalism speech, with more direct action by the people in their own affairs. the direct primary, he said, in kansas, would be a positive step in this directive. and during the 1912 campaign what he would engage the incumbent president, william howard taft in the first presidential primary campaign, roosevelt defended a full throated, pure democracy, as he called it. an easier method to amend the
constitution. and the opportunity for the people to recall all public officials. including the president. as bill schambra has pointed out, the stand of taft and -- combined with ruthless steam roller machine politics, deprived t.r. of the republican nomination. and most likely a third term in the white house during which he might have enacted his constitutional program. but roosevelt's third party crusade for the right of the people to be the ultimate makers of their constitution, as he put it, aroused considerable enthusiasm. he won nearly 30% of the vote. and it is echoed throughout the 20th and 21st century. most of the aspirations that underlay that program have been firmly rooted in custom. an unwritten law that presidents derive their authority directly from the people. directly from public opinion.
and i would argue -- i'll let jim make this argument more fully than i. i would argue this is a strain of progressivism. this notion that the president must be a steward of the public welfare that embodies the will of the people in programatic efforts, i would argue this has been embraced since fdr by democrat and republican presidents. by liberals and conservatives. so having said that, let me finish with this. although the legacy of progressive democracy transcends the id logical battles of the moment in an important way, its pervasiveness raises profound questions. can an executive senate administrative state be compatible with an active and competent citizenry. can the modern presidency, even with the tools of instant communication and social media, function as a truly democratic institution with meaningful links to the public? these were the -- the fundamental questions that troubled the critics of t.r.'s
new nationalism. and they still haunt american democracy. for all the important differences. i'll name these three. this is a prediction. between president obama, newt gingrich and mitt romney, those are the three i think are still standing. all three are committed. i would say to presidential leadership in the t.r. mold. they all champion national administrative power, although for very different objectives. and they all claim that this power must be used in the name of the whole people. thank you. [ applause ] >> thank you for the kind introduction. barack obama's most notable achievement before being elected president was a literary one. authorship of his fine personal memoir, "dreams from my father."
which recounts his agonizing search as a youth for a stable identity. a quest that concludes in his embrace of his absent father's grace and his adoption of an african-american persona. like his effort to secure a firm anchor in his private life, his public career seems to have followed a parallel search for stable political identity. recall the launch of his presidential campaign in 2007. in a speech before the old state capitol in springfield, illinois. his speech was all about chaneling abraham lincoln. whom obama described as a tall, gangly self-made springfield lawyer. i think the tall and gangly was a reference to himself. following his successful 2008 campaign, obama was likened to, and he never rejected the comparison, he was likened to the greatest democratic leader, franklin roosevelt. as fdr had led his party out of
the political wilderness and fashioned a political realignment for liberalism, so barack obama seemed destined to do the same for the democrats of our day. that and even more. now in the latest stop on his modern political journey, barack obama has lit on his ultimate model. in the unlikely figure of the wealthy, stocky and pugnacious teddy roosevelt. not the teddy roosevelt of his earlier rough rider phase, leading from ahead the charge up san juan hill. nor the teddy roosevelt in his last phase as a champion of nationalist -- but the teddy roosevelt of the middle period. as the budding leader of the progressive. which, of course, is the label that barack obama and other democrats on the left have chosen for themselves today. all of which brought barack obama to his roots in the small town of osawatame.
answering his political dream by rediscovering its paternity in that very place. in the very place where teddy roosevelt had pronounced one of his most famous speeches. obama's speech has been touted as the document that represents his program or vision for the nation today. it is the platform for the 1912 campaign. and what a difference in tone from 2008. when obama preached unity and slightly stretching lincoln a bit, he spoke of a figure who called on a house divided on itself to stand together. that wasn't quite the lincoln i remember. but now, in any case, with teddy roosevelt looking over his shoulder, obama has made the line of division bright and clear. with malice towards the 1% and charity for the 99%. obama's theme deliberately echoes the message or the more confrontational occupy wall
street movement. and the effort of obama's speech is to burnish that movement's recently tarnished reputation. by, of all things, likening it to the democratic and populous spirit of the tea party. a movement that president obama once despaired. and that the white house asked the minones and its press to vilify. now the president seeks to leverage the tea party's legitimacy to buoy up occupy wall street. i guesspopu lists now. president obama's speech in osawatme invites compare with roosevelt's address. roosevelt's address on a quick reading -- i know you were all required to read it so i did as well -- seems to me moreiden obama's. it certainly in teddy roosevelt's style is more energetic. given the advantage to, in this judgment that i suppose teddy roosevelt is almost fixed in the ca