TEDDY,BOOKER T. AND BARACK: JOHN 8:32,By Louise Annarino,September 16, 2012

16 Sep

TEDDY, BOOKER T. AND BARACK: JOHN 8:32,By Louise Annarino, September 16,2012


Republican Teddy Roosevelt has always been one of my favorite presidents. His Rough Riders embodied his personality when he charged up San Juan Hill on his way to the presidency. He was a man of action, admired by most, resented by party bosses in New York who tried to derail his political influence. They failed. Recently, I have been reading about his dinner with Booker T. Washington in the private quarters of the White House. Mr. Washington had been advising President Roosevelt on government appointments in the South,both men trying to find a common ground for the benefit of African-Americans facing horrific back-lash after initial political successes. Washington hoped to ease into place judges and other government administrators who would chart a fair and just path through institutional racism which was openly being laid through every governmental body. Roosevelt hoped to turn around the animosity of the Southern electorate toward Republicans, whose first president,Abraham Lincoln, had ended slavery and in the southern mind destroyed the south. These two men were fighting the nascent southern strategy. It is the same strategy put in play against efforts to elect,and re-elect, President Obama.


One evening, Roosevelt invited Washington to family dinner where he intended to discuss such issues. The two men had engaged in this endeavor secretly, to avoid the anticipated antipathy to such cooperation. The outcry to this dinner throughout the country was not because of what the two discussed; but, that Washington was allowed to share the table of white man and his family, with his wife present, in the White House no less. The sin committed was the sin of social equality. White America could not accept the right of a Black man to enter the white house except as a servant to the white man.


Today, I listened to the Sunday morning talk shows, to talking heads discussing the insult to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu because The Black Man did not invite the white man to the White House, the insult to Israel because the Black man did not follow the white man’s advice regarding handling Iran’s uranium enrichment activities. To be fair to Mr. Netanyahu, he is being used by the NeoCons to attack the Black man,and further their own agenda; but they are no friend to Israel,nor to Prime Minister Netanyahu. Using Israel and Iran as a political football is diplomatically dangerous. However, the need to dispossess the uppity Black man with the audacity (of hope) to dine (not set the table for others) in the White House, and invite whom he chooses to dine with him is just too easy a target for the right-wing ideologues, among which Netanyahu claims alliances.


This was not all which was discussed today. Megan McCain has joined Mr. Romney, Mr. Ryan et al in continuing the lie that President Obama apologized for and sympathized with those who attacked our embassies and killed our ambassador. Said a Romney Advisor: No Attacks If He Was Prez. Richard Williamson is a top foreign policy aide to Mr. Romney. Implying there would be no protests if Romney were in charge, he further stated  “There’s a pretty compelling story that if you had a President Romney, you’d be in a different situation…In Egypt and Libya and Yemen, again demonstrations — the respect for America has gone down, there’s not a sense of American resolve and we can’t even protect sovereign American property.”


This is hypocritical grandstanding considering that Mr. Williamson was an official in the Bush administration when embassies were engulfed by protesters offended by a Danish cartoon. President Bush rightly condemned the cartoon as “unacceptable” while repeating America’s dedication to free speech. Williamson was  a diplomat serving in the U.N. in 2003 when U.N. Headquarters in Iraq was savagely attacked which killed 22 people including its top envoy,causing with-drawl from Iraq for several years. Mr. Williamson applies a different test for President Obama than for himself or his party. This is the latest effort to paint Obama as un-American. It is the latest set of lies and distortions.


One hopes there is room for disagreements on foreign policy. One expects political attacks. One also expects some circumspection while our security apparatus hunts for American victims, and our embassies continue to go up in flames. Insight and wisdom must also be expected. Fairness and support toward our leaders in the field making the tough decisions moment-by-moment through a crisis is the least we should expect. Politics should never trump national security.


Attacks will soon enough be acceptable within the public discourse. However the political attacks must be truthful.Teddy Roosevelt would have agreed. The Kansas City Star reported his remarks on this subject on May 7,1918:

To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand  by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public. Nothing but the truth should bespoken about him or any one else. But it is even more important to tell the truth, pleasant or unpleasant, about him than about any one else.”

Teddy Roosevelt learned much by listening to Booker T. Washington. In a letter to a friend he explained “I have always been fond of the West African proverb: “Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far.” THEODORE ROOSEVELT,A LIFE,Nathan Miller, page 337. President Roosevelt’s speech “Citizenship In a Republic”,delivered at the Sorbonne in Paris on April 23,1910 could describe both men:

“It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.

President Teddy Roosevelt could have been describing  Sean Smith, Glen Doherty, Tyrone Woods, and Ambassador Christopher Stevens. He could also be describing the embassy staff in Egypt who tried to prevent an escalation of anger by issuing a statement,American diplomatic staff throughout  the world, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. President Roosevelt could also have been describing President Barack Obama, who speaks softly but carries the big stick of Commander-in-Chief who brought to justice Al Quaeda’s leaders including Osama bin Laden.

Will America face difficulties in this rapidly changing,inter-connected world? Of course. At its helm I prefer a person who leads with dignity,wisdom,and a big stick while speaking softly. For a soft voice calms a room to quiet for those wanting to listen and willing to learn the TRUTH about America. Those who lie lose the attention of truth seekers, the peace-makers of the world. Those who love freedom love truth: “For you shall know the truth, and the Truth shall set you free” John 8:32.

President Obama has avoided the trap of putting politics above national interest. He follows a long line of presidents, Republican- like Teddy Roosevelt, and Democratic-like Teddy’s cousin Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who did likewise. Romney would be wise to follow their lead,but Teapublicans will never allow it.


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