Longtime presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin was a guest on the Monday edition of CBS's The Late Show, and liberal host Stephen Colbert peppered her with questions about former occupants of the White House, especially her favorites: Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson (whom she worked for in the White House). Of course, most of the discussion focused on using history to slam Donald Trump, with the host going so far as to ask his guest which of “her guys” she’d want to "take on" the current Republican president.
During the first installment of PBS's The Roosevelts: An Intimate History on Sunday, historian Clay Jenkinson and former Newsweek editor turned historian Evan Thomas slammed Theodore Roosevelt as a bloodthirsty "imperialist" who promoted the "glorification of war" and built up a "cult" of personality. [Listen to the audio]
Speaking on Roosevelt's command of the Rough Riders during the Spanish-American War, Jenkinson proclaimed: "There's no question that Roosevelt is an imperialist. Apologists like to try to play this down. But the fact is he's probably the most significant imperialist in American history." Jenkinson seemed troubled by Roosevelt's call for the United States to "take our place in the world's arena."
On Tuesday's CBS Early Show, White House correspondent Bill Plante hyped an upcoming speech by President Obama: "The President is going to Osawatomie, Kansas....where former President Teddy Roosevelt made a famous speech more than a century ago...it was a call for economic fairness, not unlike the President's own argument for taxing millionaires to extend the payroll tax cuts." [Audio available here]
As Plante quoted Roosevelt's call for a "square deal" in 1910, the headline on screen read: "Channeling Teddy: Obama To Echo Historic Roosevelt Speech." A sound bite was included from liberal historian Douglas Brinkley declaring: "[Obama's] trying to paint the Republicans as sort of being anti-American, of being Grinch-like, being misers....He's got to reclaim the great American center right now, and the figure who speaks for the center is Theodore Roosevelt." [View video after the jump]
A Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer on Sunday responded to a query from "Face the Nation" host Bob Schieffer by saying, "As the immortal Marisa Tomei said in 'My Cousin Vinny,' that's a bulls--t question."
Edmund Morris, who won a Pulitzer Prize in 1980 for "The Rise of Teddy Roosevelt," apparently felt Schieffer was being too "presentist" with his questions that were trying to "pluck people out of the past and expect them to comment on what's happening today" (video follows with transcript and commentary):