McCain Compares Himself To Progressive Icon Teddy Roosevelt

[Our guest blogger is Robert Gordon, a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress.]

In a trippy new web video, John McCain includes a long excerpt from a fiery speech by Theodore Roosevelt. Watch it:

According to the Library of Congress, that speech was given at the Progressive Party convention in August 1912. John McCain is clearly no Teddy Roosevelt progressive.


The Progressive Party was formed after Roosevelt bolted a Republican Party that had rejected him and nominated the far more conservative William Howard Taft. After McCain’s own rejection by Republicans in 2000, he too considered leaving the Republican party. But McCain instead chose to remain a Republican, to endorse his former opponent George W. Bush, and to abandon his previous progressive positions on issues like tax cuts.

Roosevelt’s platform in 1912 was far more progressive than the Republican Party’s agenda 96 years later. Here are a few excerpts from the 1912 document:

We pledge ourselves to work unceasingly in State and Nation for:…

Minimum wage standards for working women, to provide a “living wage” in all industrial occupations;

The protection of home life against the hazards of sickness, irregular employment and old age through the adoption of a system of social insurance adapted to American use;

We favor the organization of the workers, men and women, as a means of protecting their interests and of promoting their progress…

We believe in a graduated inheritance tax as a National means of equalizing the obligations of holders of property to Government…

The movement that John McCain now leads, of course, opposes a meaningful minimum wage (much less a living wage), works to dismantle social insurance programs like Social Security, fights against workers’ right to organize, and seeks to repeal the estate tax.

But other than that, John McCain and Teddy Roosevelt are a perfect fit.

Robert GordonUPDATE: TP commenter Attaturk writes, “Funny, you’d think they would have worked Ronald Reagan in there.”