H. W. Brands has written a compelling biography of Teddy Roosevelt, “T. R. The Last Romantic.” Published by BasicBooks in 1997, Brands biographical depiction of Roosevelt is as intriguing as any novel. But I cannot help making a comparison to Barack Obama of 2008.
From page 420:
“Roosevelt held the romantic view that wrongs exist to be righted. He was sophisticated enough to recognize that, in a modern society at least, evil was not simply the deliberate work of bad men but of banal and pernicious institutional arrangements as well. Yet even so, he was naive enough to believe that for each of society’s ills there was a solution. Intelligence could find that solution, and courage could effect it.
Courage combined with intelligence: For Roosevelt this was the formula for leadership.”
So I ask simply – does this not describe Barack Obama?
Even Obama’s staunchest opponents do not question his intelligence. This is a man of tremendous oratory gifts, but those gifts of presentation are rooted in a message derived from intellect.
Then we might reasonably ask, Does Obama have courage? This man has been attacked from every direction imaginable and has stood the test – his responses to flagrant lies has been assertive but forceful, calm and collected, thoughtful and deliberate.
But I would add another trait to the qualities of intellect and courage – I would add honor and integrity. Teddy Roosevelt angered Republican Party Bosses because he had the intellect to see wrong, the courage to act, and the consistency of integrity.
Barack Obama is a man of intellect, courage, honor, and integrity. And he has angered many of the Democratic Party regulars. Obama possesses that romantic ideal of hope. Obama genuinely believes there are solutions to world problems. And Obama has demonstrated his willingness to tackle those problems.
Barack Obama is the new Romantic.