The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt

How many people do you meet who’ve been pretty much anything on planet that you can be? In The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt  by Edmund Morris, book one of a trilogy, we meet one.

The Roosevelts were a Dutch family that had been here since Amsterdam was New and more than a horrifically gentrified avenue. So by the time Teddy was looking to enter the game, daddy could’ve given him a boost to higher office, much like Joe Kennedy did for his little sex machine. And daddy offered to. However, Teddy, from a scraggly, asthmatic day one, wanted to make his own. He started as a hand pumping state assemblyman, just the kind of bombastic, dominant, bespectacled, animal loving legend in the making you’d expect. Interrupting the speaker whenever he chose, cruising down the isle yelling “Mister speaker!” over and over! To quote the great Thulsa Doom, “That is strength, boy! That is power!” The kind of bad alpha Akita dominance and crime into comedy charisma that is not often felt in this world. And when it is, Ukrainians starve and Jews die, but corruption is certainly not stomped out of local politics and an impassioned push toward natural conservation is miles off the map . . . or is it?

While the big toothed, corporate smashing knight of the Order of Antitrust came to surface predominantly during the presidency, we’re walked through Roosevelt’s overwhelming push towards pure meritocracy in every venue he touched. And there were many! And not only as a state assemblyman. The Ted was also an NYC police commissioner! Blasting nepotism and favor dealing out of the force like the Dakota bison he hunted in his off time. The posts continue: governor of New York State, commandeering the Navy when he was assistant secretary of that armed wing, vice president! If this man walked into a crash of rhinos, they would no doubt nuzzle his belly, horns hung low, and meekly follow him to Cuba.

And of course, the elephant not allowed on the sofa in Teddy Roosevelt’s house, the Rough Riders in Cuba. Some people would call a man stupid who stood up and yelled in the midst of Spanish gunfire. I would call a man stupid who stood up and yelled in the midst of Spanish gunfire. But, it was exactly this boyish sense of invincibility—accountable for more drag racing deaths than presidencies—that makes even the prelude to his presidency such a spectacular joy.

Having an adamantium laced soul leads to heading out west on your own, meeting a couple of Scotsmen out there who own a cattle ranch, having them take you to buddies of theirs even further out west so you can have a story to tell about being bum rushed by a raging grizzly that you had to shoot three times before it managed to not kill you. I forgot whether it was Obama, Reagan or Bush Sr. who also did that. Suffice it to say, at the end of this little tome you’ll have your TR jersey, cap and foam rubber finger out and ready to go, ashamed to almost cheer at the death of President McKinley.