From Teddy to Trump: How two New Yorker presidents compare

From Teddy to Trump: How two New Yorker presidents compare
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Let us look at "President TR..." of the United States:

1. He was born in New York City;

2. In his teens he was sent away to a boarding school;


3. He graduated from a prestigious Ivy League college;

4. From his early days he was brash and outspoken;

5. He was also egotistical;

6. He was known for being extremely vain;

7. He wrote books;

8. Shooting big game animals was considered fun in his family;

9. When he decided to go into politics it was not something his family or friends thought he ought to do;


10. He decided to be a Republican — even though New York City was decidedly Democrat;

11. When he decided to run for public office the GOP Establishment was — at best — wary of him;

12. And, sure enough, that Establishment soon came to despise him;

13.They never accepted him;

14. He fancied himself as a “disrupter;”

15. He was indeed “high energy;”

16. He saw himself, as did his supporters, as “different” than the political class;

17. Although he came from a rich family and background, he talked the lingo of the Working Man and became their champion;

18. Coming from the Elite he had the credibility to take on and challenge the Elites;

19. Because he was rich, he was seen by his supporters as incorruptible;

20. The Common Man/Average Person/Forgotten Middle Class American viewed him as their “savior;”

21. Often unhappy with the Republican Establishment, he considered a third-party run for the presidency in the past;

22. He always lived in both NYC and the New York suburbs;

23. His presidency ushered in a new political era in American history;

24. The force of his personality changed American politics.

But who is this “President TR? Who are we talking about here? Is it President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump: McConnell 'helpless' to stop Biden from packing court Romney on NRSC awarding Trump: Not 'my preference' McConnell sidesteps Trump calling him 'dumb son of a b----' MORE? Or President T. R. – Teddy Roosevelt?

Because the two biographies loosely track each other – except for the underlying facts of character and personality – let’s examine the stark differences between these two New York POTUSes:

1. Where Trump often brags about his “incredible intelligence,” Teddy Roosevelt (TR) would not have been so immodest. He demonstrated his intellect through an ability to speak, read and write German and French; his pioneering mastery of the field of natural science; and his voluminous writings ranging from history to biographies;

2. He wrote every word of every book and article he authored — while Trump used either ghostwriters or co-authors;

3. TR abhorred the sleazy, unethical nature of his era’s seemingly corrupt “machine politics,” while Trump has purposely blurred ethical lines so that he can personally profit from the office he holds;

4. TR was uniquely prepared for the presidency: he had been a New York state assemblyman, NYC police commissioner, governor and vice president, as well as the leader of the infamous Rough Riders. In sum, perhaps the most experienced person since the Founders when he became the nation’s youngest president. Trump, by contrast, became the nation’s oldest president without having any experience in government whatsoever.


5. While Teddy loved and inhaled history, Trump appears to know almost nothing of anything other than his own personal history. He often speaks of long-dead historical figures as if they are currently alive;

6. TR had endured tremendous pain and suffering by the time he moved into the White House: he lost his first wife during a difficult childbirth and his mother at the same time in the same house; this pain tempered TR and helped develop his first-rate character; Trump, on the other hand, often bragged about his philandering, his Playboy-ish lifestyle, his multiple marriages and hook-ups with famous starlets — and he has always had a rocky relationship with the truth;

7. TR led his Rough Riders into Cuba and emerged victorious; that experience, too, changed him and prepared him to be commander-in-chief. Trump, on the other hand, avoided all public service during Vietnam — citing “heel spurs” — and instead boasted that avoiding STDs on the singles circuit in New York was “my personal Vietnam;

8. Teddy won the Nobel Peace Prize for personally brokering a peace between Japan and Russia; Trump’s dealings with Russia may spell his downfall;

9. As a political leader and a president, TR led the progressive movement that would ultimately result in women’s suffrage, increased civil rights for blacks (TR was the first POTUS to have a black man eat a meal with the president in the White House), the establishment of our National Parks, the creation of a Square Deal for American workers and consumers which recognized the abuse by monopolies or “too big to fail” trusts; Trump, instead, is leading a retrogressive populist nationalistic movement that has racist — i.e. Charlottesville’s “some very fine people on both sides” — tinges to it; his Justice Department so far has made no noises about “too big to fail” — nor has he spoken out against the widening income disparity that is a precursor of economic, political and social dysfunction;

10. If it is true that “character is destiny,” then Teddy Roosevelt deserves to be one of our four presidents on Mt. Rushmore, America’s greatest monument.

11. Donald Trump’s legacy is yet to be written, but he is on track to be a monumental failure.

John LeBoutillier is a former Republican congressman from New York and is co-host of "Revolution — The Podcast," available on Soundcloud and iTunes.