Good morning and welcome to Day 2 of Reason's annual Webathon! To reach our goal we need about 400 or so more donations–big ones, small ones, $666 ones (of which we've received one so far!). Our basic proposition is that opinion journalism doesn't pay for itself in subscriptions and advertising, so we're asking you to volunteer a premium, in exchange for the value you get out of the experience of consuming our work, watching us represent your views on TV and radio, and taunting us viciously in the comments. Speaking of which, did you hear we have a book out?…
Here's an example of what Reason gives you that few other journalistic outlets will:
So the president of the United States travels to Osawatomie, Kansas yesterday, in a naked attempt to seize the baton from Teddy Roosevelt's century-ago "New Nationalism" speech, which was one of the most famous wills to executive power in American history ("executive power," T.R. explained in his address, is "the steward of the public welfare"). Barack Obama used the opportunity to complain that ATMs haved replaced bank tellers, to declare that education is a "national mission," to dust off some "Made in America" economic nationalism, assert (falsely) that "unless you're a financial institution whose business model is built on breaking the law, cheating consumers, or making risky bets that could damage the entire economy, you have nothing to fear" from new banking regulations, and to sketch out a new model of corporate citizenship that "will require American business leaders to understand that their obligations don't just end with their shareholders." R-e-q-u-i-r-e.
Reason criticized various bits of the speech in posts by Mike Riggs, Tim Cavanaugh, me, Jacob Sullum, and Peter Suderman. What about our friends in the media, many of whom (like us) were harshly critical of George W. Bush's executive power-grabbing? What was their response to Obama's Doris Kearns Goodwin-inspired T.R. moment?
The New York Times editorial board:
[The president] has fought energetically for a realistic plan to put Americans back to work and has been stymied at every step by Republicans. That seems to have burned away his old urge to conciliate and compromise, and he is now fully engaged against the philosophy of his opponents.
Tuesday's speech, in fact, seemed expressly designed to counter Mitt Romney's argument that business, unfettered, will easily restore American jobs and prosperity. Teddy Roosevelt knew better 101 years ago, and it was gratifying to hear his fire reflected by President Obama.
It was "The Obama we've been waiting for," Robert Reich wrote in Salon. The proletarians at The New Yorker agreed: "Invoking Teddy Roosevelt," financial correspondent John Cassidy headlined his enthusiastic blog post, "Obama Finds His Voice."
And, predictably, it wasn't just out-and-proud left-of-center economists applauding. As mentioned here yesterday, Bull Moose is the go-to historical figure for "do-something third-party pundits" everywhere. So without missing a beat, "No Labels" enthusiast John Avlon let out a hearty huzzah:
Confession: I'm a Teddy Roosevelt nerd. And apparently President Obama is as well. [..]
The unapologetic Americanism and aggressive reforms advocated by an iconic rugged individualist like TR have broad appeal to Republicans, Democrats and especially independents. […]
Interestingly, however, in recent years representatives of the right-wing talk radio crowd have started to throw Teddy Roosevelt under the bus as part of their RINO (Republican in Name Only) hunting expeditions.
Avlon, like such T.R. enthusiasts as David Brooks, Thomas L. Friedman, John McCain, and Matt Miller, see "Teddy Roosevelt" in one corner and "ideological absolutism" in the other. But as Reason tirelessly points out, self-described post-ideology is often as ideological as it gets, inevitably ending up at the same conclusion of giving the federal government (and the executive branch in particular) more power.
For a fresh example, look no further than this morning's column by Senior Editor Jacob Sullum about "Obama's Indefinite Detention Powers." As Sullum in particular has spent 35 months chronicling, the constitutional lawyer-candidate who campaigned daily against the excesses of Bush-Cheney executive power has held tight to the stuff once it became him having to pragmatically solve the world's problems.
In times like these, where so much of journalism and commentary seems calibrated for or against the political party holding power, you need a watchdog and voice out there who is skeptical of authority, government, and executive power irrespective of who is wielding it. We didn't like the Cult of the Presidency when George W. Bush was the flyboy in chief, and we don't like it now. We didn't go from opposing war to taunting anti-interventionists just because Team Blue was ordering the drone strikes. Click on our "Executive Power" topic page, scroll down through the years, and see for yourself: We are equal opportunity critics who think those in power require scrutiny. Some issues–all of them?–are more important than tribal membership.
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