Over a month ago, I asked "Where is Teddy Roosevelt When We Need Him". It looks like Obama has been thinking the same thing. He just gave a speech in Osawatomie, Kansas, the same place TDR gave a defining speech 101 years ago. Like TDR, Obama laid out a progressive message, which is at its essence that capitalism today has been stolen by the super powerful, just as it had back in TDR's day, who have eliminated the essence of capitalism itself - competition and the growing of the economy.
Roosevelt was famously the "Trust Buster", who restored competition to the capitalist system. But, Teddy Roosevelt was temperamentally suited to take on the oligarchy of his time. He wasn't called the "Bull Moose" by accident.
Obama seems to understand that the country is in the grips of a new anti-capitalist oligarchy today. He seems to have the right ideas about what is wrong. I'm not sure he has the right ideas about what the solutions are, and I am even less sure that he has the temperament to confront and defeat today's oligarchy.
TDR wanted to give the people of America a "Square Deal", FDR wanted to give the people of America a "New Deal", Obama just said he wants to give the American people "Fair Play, a Fair Shot, and a Fair Share". I expect this will morph into a campaign slogan of giving the American people a "Fair Deal".
I have been wondering how Obama could run for re-election. He certainly can't run as a post-partisan, reach-across-the-isle president because he has proven that he is incapable of pulling that off. The only thing left is for him to run as the president who can force the Republicans to buckle under to his will and leadership. As a result, we have this excellent kick-off speech.
He will have to follow up with actual, strong willed, confrontational executive action opposing the Republicans in 2012 to prove to the people that he is up to that job. And he will have to convince more than just a slim majority to re-elect him. He will have to win a substantial victory in November and create substantial increases in the House and the Senate.
Of course, he may have an ally in this impossible task - the Republican Party - who may accommodate the president by running an un-electable nominee like Gingrich.