HUDSON, Wis. — Senator John McCain in a wide-ranging interview called for a government that is frugal but more active than many conservatives might prefer. He said government should play an important role in areas like addressing climate change, regulating campaign finance and taking care of “those in America who cannot take care of themselves.”Famous for his war exploits, Theodore Roosevelt was a progressive who championed government regulation of business, pro-union policies, and mucking around in other nations' internal affairs. A man of incredible vigor with a magnetic personality, he made the White House the center of America and the federal government the prime mover in society. Of course he did take on "special interests," but like all honest and naive reformers, he often just set up opposing special interests in their place.
“I count myself as a conservative Republican, yet I view it to a large degree in the Theodore Roosevelt mold**,” Mr. McCain said, referring to Roosevelt’s reputation for reform, environmentalism and tough foreign policy...
[McCain] expressed a willingness to deploy government power and influence where free-market purists might hesitate to do so and to consider unleashing military force for moral reasons.
Teddy's steady lurches to the left alienated conservatives in his own party and eventually split the GOP, resulting in the election of the single worst President in American history, Woodrow Wilson, when he ran as the standardbearer of the Progressive (Bull Moose) Party. The Progressive Party platform called for higher inflation, expanded welfare, imposition of income and inheritance taxes, agricultural price supports, and making it easier to amend the Constitution. It is no accident that hip liberals call themselves "progressives;" then as now it is the political polar opposite of "conservative."
McCain's idolization of TR is a clear view into what he sees for the GOP's future. But the problem with the GOP is not that it is no longer the party of Teddy Roosevelt, but that it is once again that party.
This time without the charisma.
* This post is a modified rerun; new story but illustrating something I said about a year and a half ago. So I swapped out the old story, removed a sentence about the likelihood of McCain being nominated, and added a few asterisks solely for the edification of Giraffe. If it sounds vaguely familiar, that means you've been here too long.
** like being a teatotaller in the Ted Kennedy mold.