Much has been made of Obama’s speech in Osawatomie, Kansas last week, where the President attempts to outline his prescription for healing the country’s current economic woes. For the most part, media outlets have contented themselves to drawing general parallels between Obama and Teddy Roosevelt, the owner of the very large and very Progressive shoes Obama seems eager to fill. Some however — like Democracy 21 President Fred Wertheimer — see a very specific correlation: campaign finance reform. From HuffPo:
For more than a century, the Roosevelt position prevailed in our country. Corporate money was barred from being used in federal elections. Our national policy was based on a simple proposition: only individuals and groups of individuals were allowed to contribute or spend money to influence federal elections.
You can’t blame Wertheimer for trying. Everyone wants to capitalize on the speech that Obama supporters say casts him as the lightbearer of Roosevelt’s legacy. And it wouldn’t be far-fetched to assume that Obama was fully aware that Roosevelt mentioned in his 1910 speech there that the potential for corruption through corporate expenditures was one of the building blocks of his progressive plan.
And so Wertheimer has set the stage for future articles about how Roosevelt was a rabid campaign finance “reformer” and that Obama is only carrying on in the great man’s footsteps.
Never mind that, as Ken Walsh at US News & World Report put it, “[Roosevelt] lost amid charges that he was a demagogue who favored a vast over-reach in federal power.” One wonders if Wertheimer is aware that for all Roosevelt’s rhetoric about giving the average American a “square deal,” he was a strong advocate for big government. So, too, is his progressive inheritor. Which begs the question: Just what is Wertheimer advocating when he asks to “end secret money in federal elections by passing new disclosure legislation”?