Edmund Morris: Theodore Roosevelt, Pundit





[Edmund Morris is working on the third and final volume of his biography of Theodore Roosevelt.]

THE former president, born 150 years ago today, was interviewed in his childhood home at 28 East 20th Street. He has long been a ghostly presence there. The house is now the Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace National Historic Site. Due to Roosevelt’s great age, it is difficult to tell how well he hears contemporary questions. But he is as forceful as ever in expressing himself. His statements below are drawn from the historic record and are uncut except when interrupted by his interviewer.

... Q. He doesn’t have Mr. McCain’s foreign policy experience. As president, how would he personify us around the world?

A. It always pays for a nation to be a gentleman.

Q. There’ll be Joe Biden to counsel him, of course. Assuming Mr. Obama can keep track of what he’s saying.

A. (laughing) You can’t nail marmalade against a wall.

Q. Talking of foreign policy, what do you think of Mr. McCain’s choice of a female running mate?

A. Times have changed (sigh). It is entirely inexcusable, however, to try to combine the unready hand with the unbridled tongue.

Q. How will you feel if Sarah Palin is elected?

A. I shall feel exactly the way a very small frog looks when it swallows a beetle the size of itself, with extremely stiff legs.

Q. What’s your impression of President Bush these days?

A. (suddenly serious) He looks like Judas, but unlike that gentleman has no capacity for remorse.

Q. Is that the best you can say of him?

A. I wish him well, but I wish him well at a good distance from me.

Q. One last question, Colonel. If you were campaigning now, would you still call yourself a Republican?

A. (after a long pause) No.


comments powered by Disqus