Saturday, May 30, 2015

George Pataki's Bizarre Reference to TR & St. Ronnie In His "I Wanna B POTUS" Announcement

It's all part of a determined rewriting of history that casts any Republican president not named Coolidge or Reagan as a progressive and therefore a socialist determined to undermine the Constitution ~ Edmund Morris, author of the book The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt, the first volume of what would eventually become a trilogy on the life of the 26th president. It won the 1980 Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award for biography.

George Pataki, the 53rd Republican Governor of New York (from 1995 to 2006) who is fiscally conservative and socially liberal, recently announced he's launching a futile bid for the presidency.

The following is from his announcement speech.

George Pataki: We are here in Exeter, NH, birthplace of the Republican Party.

Abraham Lincoln's party, who saved the Union and brought the promise of freedom to all Americans.

Teddy Roosevelt's party, who fought for the Square Deal, to make sure the rich and powerful couldn't limit the freedom of working Americans.

And Ronald Reagan's party, who restored Americans' belief in ourselves and in the transcendent value of freedom; the freedom that has given us the greatest country the world has ever known; the freedom a man named Amos Tuck, declared as the foundation of that party right here in Exeter, NH.

The same freedom that I fear is at risk today from an ever more powerful, ever more intrusive government in Washington.

It is to preserve and protect that freedom for us that I stand here today. It is to preserve and protect that freedom for future generations that I rise. It is to preserve and protect that freedom that I am announcing I am a candidate for the Republican nomination for President of the United States. (Read the speech George Pataki gave in Exeter, N.H., the Buffalo News 5/28/2015).

Pataki's bid for the presidency is futile because it's mostly the Base that turns out to vote in primary elections, and the Republican Base is socially conservative. But that isn't what is most bizarre. What is even more bizarre is that Pataki mentions two past presidents who could not be farther apart ideologically in his announcement that he's going to run for prez.

Teddy Roosevelt (president from 1901 to 1909) fought for the Square Deal to make sure the rich and powerful couldn't limit the freedom of working Americans... because he was a Progressive Republican. Wikipedia notes that "by 1907, his agenda had worn thin his mandate with Congressional Republicans". Because the GOP had become more Conservative (moving away from it's Progressive roots) TR split with the Republicans to form his own party, the Progressive or "Bull Moose" party in 1912.

Teddy ran for POTUS again that same year but was defeated by the Progressive Democrat Woodrow Wilson. After this election TR's Progressive Party faded and died, and the Progressive banner thereafter has been largely born by Democrats.

Failing to make itself a believable third party, the Bull Moose Party ended up losing strength. Its candidates did poorly in 1914. It vanished in 1916 with most members following Roosevelt back into the Republican party. However, the Taft conservatives controlled the party and its platform from 1912 to 1928, and thus some Progressives like Harold L. Ickes joined the steadily more liberal Democratic party. (Wikipedia/United States presidential election, 1912/Consequences).

(Note: Harold L. Ickes was responsible for implementing much of President FDR's New Deal (as Secretary of the Interior) along with Labor Secretary Frances Perkins).

The Republican Party of today is the party of Reagan, a Conservative Republican - both fiscally and Socially [1+2] - which is why George Pataki mentioning two Progressive Republicans (Lincoln then TR) and thirdly Reagan is bizarre.

He of course mentions Lincoln because he freed the slaves, and Republicans like to bring that up to "refute" the fact that LBJ signed Civil Rights Legislation and the vast majority of African Americans vote Democratic. What they're saying is "hey, it was our guy who freed the slaves, Blacks, so why aren't you voting Republican?". Except that Lincoln was a Progressive Republican and Republicans aren't progressive anymore. But a lot of White voters are ignorant of history and do not know this (although African American voters obviously do).

By mentioning TR and his Square Deal, I'm guessing Pataki is attempting a run as a populist Republican, but it won't work. Not for him, anyway [3]. I mean, he knows the current Republican Party worships Reagan, which is why he mentions him, but Reagan stood in opposition to the Progressivism of TR.

Prior to the Reagan presidency, the concept of supply side economics—with its lower personal income tax rates for the wealthy, reduction in the capital gains rates and increased tax responsibilities for the middle and lower classes—was viewed with considerable suspicion by mainstream Republicans. For many, it was, as defined by the first President Bush, "voodoo economics". (The Numbers Don't Lie-Why Lowering Taxes For The Rich No Longer Works To Grow The Economy by Rick Ungar. Forbes, 9/16/2012).

And the modern Republican Party stand opposes the Progressivism of TR to an even greater degree than Reagan.

The GOP's War on Teddy Roosevelt: Here's how crazy our politics have become... Legendary Republican President Theodore Roosevelt is being called a socialist by conservatives like Glenn Beck. The man on Mount Rushmore, the Rough Rider president, is getting caught up in a party-purity dragnet 91 years after his death, an exaggerated symptom of the rabid hunting of RINOs...

If conservatives want to kick TR out, Obama seems ready to welcome him in. As if on cue, the president's press secretary, Robert Gibbs, announced yesterday that the president is now reading the classic The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt by Edmund Morris...

In [the] book, Glenn Beck's Common Sense, the author devoted a chapter to "the cancer of Progressivism" and lays the blame at TR's feet, in addition to Roosevelt's rival Woodrow Wilson. (Article from The Daily Beast by John Avlon, 3/8/2010).

So TR has been kicked out of the Party for his Socialist leanings and for being opposed to everything the modern Republican Party stands for.

...TR was an early apostle of health care reform - not to mention draconian regulation of banks and interstate corporations, inheritance taxes, and protection of the environment by executive order. These things are a matter of record, although TR's progressivism was actually much more radical after he left the presidency in 1909. He didn't call for national health insurance until he ran for a third White House term in the famous Bull Moose campaign of 1912. His platform was so radical that many of its proposals were not enacted until the New Deal administration of his fifth cousin, Franklin Delano Roosevelt. (Article from The Daily Beast by Edmund Morris, 3/9/2010).

Today's GOP loathes FDR and the New Deal because it "succeeded in doing something that Republicans detest from the bottom of their hearts, which is using government as a tool to better the lives of middle-class and poor Americans". With his Square Deal, TR called out the "the representatives of predatory wealth" as guilty of "all forms of iniquity from the oppression of wage workers to defrauding the public".

Huh. Sounds like TR's Square Deal bashed the "job creators". But the only deal Republicans are interested in extending to wage workers is a raw one [4], given their favoring of things like eliminating the minimum wage and union busting via Right-to-Work-for-less laws [5].

And Pataki, while he may be socially liberal, is not Progressive, but a believer in Reagan's Supply side Voodoo Economics.

Pataki has been a long-time advocate of tax cuts during his administration and his time in the state legislature. He signed and sponsored several tax cuts during his first term in office and in addition made spending cuts to the budgets he proposed. (Wikipedia/George Pataki/Fiscal Policy).

In regards to the ACA, Pataki said "ObamaCare is worst law of my lifetime" and that "he would repeal and then replace ObamaCare with a more market-based alternative". WTF? ObamaCare *is* market-based, in that it relies on for-profit insurers [6]. This is the ACA's huge flaw, BTW. We should have gone the TR route of national health insurance provided by the government on a not-for-profit basis [7].

Additionally, Pataki, as governor, strongly opposed spending the necessary monies to ensure the students of his state received a first rate education. According to Pataki "the state constitution only guaranteed a sound education until 8th grade". This despite the fact that High school encompases grades 9-12 [8].

This does not sound Progressive to me. So, was his mention of the Progressive TR is his "I'm running" announcement, suggesting he is a populist Republican, total BS? Was his mention of Reagan, given the fact that Reagan was a Social Conservative (and Pataki is not) transparent pandering? Yes and yes, I say [9].

Also bizarre, given the current GOP's rejection of TR and Progressivism and worship of St. Ronnie for his Voodoo Economic theories involving cutting taxes on the wealthy (the antithesis of Democratic Progressivism)...

[1] Real Clear Politics: Ronald Reagan... Social Conservative? (article excerpt) Abortion was not then an issue, but Ronald Reagan's strong stand for life came from this coherent core to his thought. Almost 25 years ago, a mother named Ruth Smith wrote to Reagan to thank him for standing strong for life and family... The fact that abortion was illegal saved her daughter's life, she said... "I just liked Ronald really well. He was put down for his stance for life, and since I had that experience - I had gotten pregnant and had the child and she such a blessing! and marriage... are core conservative issues... (by Maggie Gallagher, 2/9/2011).
[2] Wikipedia/Conservatism in the United States: President Ronald Reagan set the conservative standard in the 1980s; in the 2010s the Republican leaders typically claim fealty to it. For example most of the Republican candidates in 2012, "claimed to be standardbearers of Reagan's ideological legacy". Reagan solidified conservative Republican strength with tax cuts, a greatly increased military budget, continued deregulation, a policy of rollback of Communism... and appeals to family values and conservative morality.
[3] Even more bizarre than Pataki thinking he can appeal to both populist Republicans AND socially conservative ones, it appears that Rick Santorum - he whose prior campaign was financed by the billionaire Foster Friess - is running as a Republican populist. He'll
have better luck with this deception than Pataki, IMO.
[4] In the book by Joe Conason "The Raw Deal: How the Bush Republicans Plan to Destroy Social Security and the Legacy of the New Deal", the author examines how the New Deal is under attack by Republicans.
[5] Right-to-Work Laws, Explained (Mother Jones article excerpt): Jimmy Hoffa, the president of the Teamsters, has said that right-to-work proponents are waging a "war on workers," and Martin Luther King Jr. called right-to-work a "false slogan" and said the laws "rob us of our civil rights and job rights". Where does Pataki stand on busting public sector unions or on unionization in general? I admit I am not sure. I Googled for awhile but could not find any definitive answers. Although the NY Firefighters union apparently likes him, but then so do the unions that Scott Walker exempted from his changes in collective bargaining rights (police, firefighters and state troopers but not educators).
[6] A number of RW sites also advocate for "market-based" reforms. Heritages says "[The ACA] moves health care in the wrong direction. It puts government, not patients, in charge of individual health care decisions"... To which I say (again) WTF? How are people NOT in charge of their individual HC decisions under the ACA? Heritage also claims that people are "forced" "into government-run health insurance exchanges" but this is a LIE, as people are only required to purchase HC insurance. Buying from the exchange is an OPTION. HC insurance can be purchased outside the exchange if a person so desires. In any case, most Americans get HC insurance through their employers. So, most people aren't using the exchanges (or being "forced" into them, as Heritage claims).
[7] Wikipedia notes that "Under the Pataki Administration a number of new health care programs were created focusing on expanding care to the state's poorest citizens. ...Governor Pataki... provided health insurance coverage, under Family Health Plus, to lower income adults [and] children [and later offered] free insurance to families and single adults who had too much income to be covered by Medicaid but could not afford insurance... NY's EPIC program lowers fees and expands eligibility [in regards to medications for seniors]. [There is also] ban on smoking in public places... The NY Times ran an editorial praising his work on health care". So... in regards to HC it appears Pataki is a lot more progressive than your average GOPer. So why not do the same (be more progressive) in regards to education (see below)?
[8] From Wikipedia/George Pataki/Fiscal Policy: Pataki's tenure had been marked with the long-standing Campaign for Fiscal Equity suit regarding the state's funding of public education. The CFE sued in order to get more state money for the New York City public schools and to guarantee a sound education for all students. Pataki fought the lawsuit, saying that the state should not pay for the increased funding and that the state constitution only guaranteed a sound education until 8th grade.
[9] Pataki may not be a Progressive, but he (Wikipedia excerpt) "has long been regarded as an environmentalist and he has made the environment and open space preservation a top priority of his administration. He has long cited that Theodore Roosevelt is his political hero for his work as a conservationist". So his mention of TR may not have been as BS as I originally thought... although Pataki did specifically mention TR's Square Deal, and not his environmental work. Is there any evidence that Pataki is a Square Deal guy? My opinion is NO, and I stand by my conclusion. It seems a lot of presidents admired TR, including Reagan... and Edmund Morris (whom I quote at the top of this commentary) was commissioned by Reagan to write the Reagan bio "Dutch: A Memoir of Ronald Reagan". Does this mean Reagan was a Progressive? The evidence decisively says NO.

SWTD #284


  1. Nationalism sells. TR and RR both new how to sell it. That they had in common. Pataki is playing to that thread of commonality.

  2. Replies
    1. What about Les Carpenter? I keep hearing he might run.

    2. Sure you do. You wrote the article.

    3. How could I author a commentary on your blog? You never invited me to contribute on RNUSA.


Comment moderation has temporarily been suspended. Although I may be forced to reinstate it if the trolls take advantage.