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Once Trumpians finish rejoicing, Hillaryites walk away from the ledge, and McMullin’s wake up to reality, we all will wonder what kind of president will Trump be. Soothsaying without a history book is vain, so, in examining past presidents one president stands out as awfully similar to Donald Trump and predicting what he’ll do as president can reasonably be achieved by examining the difference and similarities.
Here are 21 similarities that provide a possible glimpse into a Trump administration:
- Outspoken New Yorkers. The New York Sun once described Theodore Roosevelt as “irrepressible, belligerent, and enthusiastic.” In the early 1900s those were NOT compliments. Both DT and TR rubbed people raw.
- From wealth.Teddy was far wealthier although we really don’t know the extent of Trump’s wealth. But he’s wealthy although he just took a pay cut.
- Aggressive.Both fit the profile of the bull in the china shop. Teddy called himself a Bull Moose proudly.
- Socially liberal/ progressive and Conservative. Teddy used big government to secure the first national parks, backed universal suffrage, busted Wall Street trusts and favored the rights of workers over big corporations. Trump won’t say too much on that but it’s well established that he’s pragmatic and fully ready to use big government to encourage or rebuild airports, roadways, etc. Neither are ideologues.
- Ignored establishment– each did his own thing and really rankled the Republican elite. Both thought the system was rigged and said so vociferously. Teddy bolted the party and created his own party. Donald threatened to do so.
- Very populace driven.Their wealth belied their popularity with the masses and they played to the common man. Amazingly, both seemed like ordinary guys and had or have the common touch. Teddy grew up so pampered and as a parent took his family on a year’s trip to Europe with all his servants. Trump relishes the golden touch life, yet the “folks” found them approachable and real.
- Abhor big corporations.Some find them to be anti-free market in their approaches. Teddy became known as a Trust (big biz) buster and Trump a Corp antagonist. Real departures from their parties. But don’t be fooled into thinking their Democratic opponents were somehow against business. Hillary’s made a living off big corporations as did as did Alton Brooks who lost in a landslide to Roosevelt. The problem is in thinking big corporations are all about free enterprise. Both were right to fear big corporations. They are countries unto themselves.
- Both consider big government as a tool for healing social ails and thus growing the government — fix monopolies, bully big business without fear. Trump actual has LESS of a penchant for big government. He doesn’t like getting involved in gay marriage, bathroom discussions, and abortion – he wants to send the social problems to the states or Supreme Court to fix the problems. While Nixon, Carter and Obama loved using their office to tinker with social problems, Trump and Teddy set sights on business and foreign issues figuring the little people in the states can clean up the social messes.
- Fight corruption in the federal government– both abhor political patronage and crony capitalism and any spoil system. Teddy fought from a sense of a Square Deal – justice for all. Trump says about the same things but has a penchant for wanting the free market and entrepreneurship to let the cream rise to the top.
- Very pro “America First.” Teddy conducted a massive buildup of the Navy and Trump wants to build up all military sectors after the gutting by President Obama. Teddy was the master of gunship diplomacy and Trump is flying the flag of “Peace through Strength.”
- Believe in strict immigration quotas and tough border security. Both are tough on unskilled workers wanting a very careful increase in such immigrants. Neither can abide illegal immigration and open borders. Teddy was actually far tougher than Trump’s rhetoric and stated categorically, “We must Americanize in every way, in speech, in political ideas and principles, and in their way of looking at relations between church and state. We welcome the German and the Irishman who becomes an American. We have no use for the German or Irishman who remains such… He must revere only our flag, not only must it come first, but no other flag should even come second.”.
- Tough on crime.A true blue blood, TR was NYC police commissioner and fought gross police corruption as well as organized and disorganized crime. A real Frank Reagan. Trump sends the same message, but who knows what he’ll actually do but he’ll likely mirror TR on this one too.
- Both well-educated but neither were eggheads. Trump graduated from Wharton and TR from Harvard. It’s a mistake to think either lacked significant intelligence. Teddy was the prolific writer of books. Trump is well read but now doesn’t read much…so he says.
- Strong family men devoted to their children– Teddy raised 6 and Donald 5. Teddy’s first wife Alice died after giving birth and he was survived by his second wife Edith who was none too happy with Teddy’s political jobs. Trump cheated on Ivana who divorced him. He then married Marla Maples but divorced her and then he married Melania. It’s notable that all three of Trump’s wives are strongly supportive of him now. He obviously knows something about PR.
- Rigorous lives– in youth Trump was an athlete 6’3”, 236 lbs. Teddy was weakened by asthma but became a self-styled athlete through hard work and built himself into a robust outdoors man – nearly getting himself killed in the Amazon.
- Big smilers and big frowners.Flashing the right smile or frown seemed second nature and attracted the press big time.
- Working the press.Both had the skills. TR gave twice-daily press conferences. He loved the banter and loved antagonizing them in such a way they give him constant coverage. He sucked up all the oxygen in the campaigns. Sounds just like Trump. When Donald speaks, the press spells his name right and he uses them shamelessly. Their egos are so big that they get sucked in every time. Trump talks excessively. So did TR.
- TR had the Square Deal– Trump says Make America Great for everyone.
- TR believed in fair trade and threatened foreign governments with protective tariffs to get what he wanted. TR also believed growth came from lowering taxes, renegotiating bad trade deals – looks like we’re seeing a repeat.
- Deal makers.Neither lacked self-confidence and the total belief that if they were in the negotiating room, they’d win. TR actually got Russia and Japan to sit down with him and work things out in New Hampshire to end their potential war. For that he got Noble Peace Prize. Don’t hold your breath on DT getting any such recognition from today’s Noble panel who gave that award to President Obama before he’d actually done anything.
- Foreign Affairs Mavericks that scared the establishment. TR could have cared less what other countries thought of him. He antagonized everyone. Evoked quickly the Monroe Doctrine and had his gunboats backing him up. Trump’s recent compliments to Russia’s Putin and Trump’s foray into Mexico to parlay with its president were far more conciliatory moves than anything TR did.
Similarities do NOT mean we’ll see a statue of The Donald on Mt. Rushmore unless he builds it. But it does make one wonder about the intelligence and educational breadth of Trump’s critics who say he’s a warmonger and a potential disaster. He may be, but they said the same thing about Teddy Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan. Of course they’ve had the great advantage of historical perspective on their actual presidential record.
Mr. Bombastic now has a chance to prove his chops. Stay tuned and involved.