Thursday, August 28, 2008

An Important Speech in Denver

This afternoon, the nation awaits both Senator Obama’s acceptance speech and the announcement of Senator John McCain’s GOP running mate. Much will be made of tonight’s climactic speech in Denver, Colorado, and commentators are noting that today, August 28th, is the 45th anniversary of the Reverend Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream Speech.”

August 29th will be the anniversary of another famous speech, this one made in Denver in 1910 by former President Theodore Roosevelt. After spending a year in Africa and Europe, giving Taft time to grow into the Presidency, TR returned to the United States loaded for political bear. He was greatly disappointed by Taft’s reversal of TR’s conservation agenda and a very different approach to anti-trust litigation. TR toured the nation on behalf of Republican candidates for Congress and state offices. In Denver, he reiterated his balanced approach to the conservation of our natural resources.

“Conservation, as I use the term, does not mean nonuse or nondevelopment. It does not mean tying up the natural resources of the states. It means the utilization of these resources under such regulation and control as will prevent waste, extravagance, and monopoly; but at the same time, not merely promoting, but encouraging such use and development as will serve the interests of the people generally.” The New Nationalism, (Outlook, New York, 1910) p50

The two months ahead will be full of important speeches by the presidential nominees, by their running mates and supporters. Important debates will be held. America will decide on a new president. As Jenny and I head to the Minnesota State Fair and the Republican National Convention that follows, I am encouraged that both Senator Obama and Senator McCain mention Theodore Roosevelt as a model to follow.

Senator McCain has gone further in this regard, acknowledging TR as his hero. The New York Times, not surprisingly, writes that McCain falls short of the mark. I disagree and find much in Senator McCain’s record that recommends him as a Theodore Roosevelt Republican. I’ll follow up on these thoughts from the GOP Convention next week.

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