Tuesday, February 08, 2005


Follow the leader?

When I first began reading this letter to the editor, I thought it was surely another piece of great satire without context. Sadly, it slowly dawned on me that the author was dead serious when he wrote the piece entitled Just trust and follow the president on Social Security in which he wrote, Listen to the president, he's our leader. We should follow him rather than backbiting him.

The opinion piece tells us that we should support the President's proposal for no merit of its own other than the personage of the its author. Given the author's purported leadership role in the party, I hope that he does not believe such obsequiousness is requisite for inclusion in the Republican Party. Regardless of the similarity of a leader's party affiliation to your own, blindly following an elected leader's proposals is a terrible idea. To quote a former president:

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.

Theodore Roosevelt

Also bothersome about the opinion piece is that it equates disagreeing with the President with attacking his person or character when it says that "We should follow him rather than backbiting him." The American Heritage Dictionary defines backbite as "To speak spitefully or slanderously about a person." The author seems to be saying that we can either agree with the President or we can call him names, but we cannot have a dispassionate, rational conversation in which we disagree while respecting each other. I understand how the author could've easily arrived at this conclusion by watching television pundits duke it out on a level which glorifies a playground bully's epithets.

That is a phenomenal quote by Roosevelt. Where did you find that??

I hope it's okay if I use that. I've got a little political conversation going on my blog and I'd like to post that tonight. Thanks, Leif!!


A friend of mine referred me to the TR quote when he read this post. You can find confirmation that the quote is from TR at the link on his name.
I would be willing to bet TR did not write that while in office.
You're right, djdb. TR wrote that in an editorial to the Kansas City Star which was published on May 7, 1918. TR was president from 1901-1909.
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