Political Buzz December 6, 2011: President Barack Obama’s Populist Speech on the Middle Class & the Economy at Osawatomie High School, Kansas Channels President Theodore Roosevelt’s New Nationalism


By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University. Ms. Goodman has also contributed the overviews, and chronologies in History of American Presidential Elections, 1789-2008, 4th edition, edited by Gil Troy, Fred L. Israel, and Arthur Meier Schlesinger to be published by Facts on File, Inc. in late 2011.


Barack Obama and Teddy Roosevelt are pictured. | AP Photos

President Obama is conjuring the legacy of a president who took on Wall Street. | AP Photos


“It’s not a view that we should somehow turn back technology or put up walls around America. It’s not a view that says we should punish profit or success or pretend that government knows how to fix all society’s problems. It’s a view that says in America, we are greater together — when everyone engages in fair play, everyone gets a fair shot, everyone does their fair share.” — President Barack Obama

“I believe that this country succeeds when everyone gets a fair shot, when everyone does their fair share, and when everyone plays by the same rules. Those aren’t Democratic or Republican values; 1 percent values or 99 percent values. They’re American values, and we have to reclaim them.” — President Barack Obama

Obama sees ‘make or break’ time for middle class: President Barack Obama delivered a sweeping indictment of economic inequality in the US on Tuesday as he summoned the memory of President Theodore Roosevelt and pledged to fight for fairness at a “make or break moment for the middle class…. – WaPo, 12-6-11


  • Obama pledges to fight for middle class: President Barack Obama took aim at Republicans and delivered a sweeping indictment of economic inequality in the US on Tuesday as he pledged to fight for fairness for the middle class. Only a month before Republican voters … – AP, 12-6-11
  • Obama compares current economy to Great Depression: President Barack Obama said Tuesday that economic inequality in America is at “a level we haven’t seen since the Great Depression” and “hurts us all.” “When middle-class families can no longer afford to buy the goods and services that … – CNN, 12-6-11
  • Obama hits Republicans in starkly populist speech: President Barack Obama turned up the heat on his Republican foes on Tuesday as he portrayed himself as a champion of the middle class and laid out in the starkest terms yet the populist themes of his 2012 … – Reuters, 12-6-11
  • Barack Obama channels Teddy Roosevelt: Barack Obama spent the first three years of his presidency invoking Abraham Lincoln, Harry Truman, John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan.
    Just over a hundred years after the Bull Moose delivered his “New Nationalism” speech in Osawatomie, Kan., Obama touted his own square deal there on Tuesday. The president described a “make or break moment for the middle class,” calling for broader consumer protections and for the Senate to confirm his nominee to lead the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau…. – Politico, 12-6-11
  • Obama channels Roosevelt’s ‘New Nationalism’:
    • President Obama calls for shared national investment in growth and opportunity
    • Obama goes to the same place where Roosevelt made a famous 1910 speech
    • The major theme is making the good of the country the top priority
    • Democrats and Republicans are divided over how to pay for the payroll tax measure

    More than a century after Teddy Roosevelt’s famous “New Nationalism” speech, President Barack Obama sounded similar themes Tuesday in the same town in the Republican heartland of Kansas, delivering a populist speech that called for extending the payroll tax cut set to expire at the end of the year.
    Obama described stark differences between a Republican ideology he described as leaving people to fend for themselves and his vision of government helping provide equal opportunity for all Americans regardless of where they begin in life…. – CNN, 12-6-11

  • In Kansas, Obama says middle class faces ‘make or break moment’: With a nod to Theodore Roosevelt, President Obama positioned himself as the champion of the middle class while blasting the “you’re-on-your-own economics” of the modern Republican Party, a message likely to form … – LAT, 12-6-11
  • Obama: This is ‘make or break moment’ for middle class: Calling it “the defining issue of our time,” President Obama said today that the United States faces “a make or break moment for the middle class,” and for all Americans who are fighting to get there. … – USA Today, 12-6-11
  • Obama tells banks, businesses to help middle class: President Barack Obama on Tuesday laid out his economic philosophy, saying that banks, businesses and government must help the middle class get back on its feet. “This is the defining issue of our … MarketWatch, 12-6-11
  • Obama’s day: Channeling Teddy Roosevelt in Kansas: Good morning from The Oval. This day in 1923 saw the first radio broadcast of a presidential speech as Calvin Coolidge addressed a joint session of Congress. Today, President Obama seeks to emulate predecessor Theodore Roosevelt…. – USA Today, 12-6-11
  • Obama channels Teddy Roosevelt in populist re-election speech: US President Barack Obama speaks about the economy and a payroll tax cut compromise during a visit to Osawatomie High School in Kansas December 6, 2011. More than a 100 years ago, President Teddy Roosevelt delivered a speech in Osawatomie in which he … – National Post, 12-6-11
  • President Obama channels Teddy Roosevelt in calling for a ‘fair chance’ for Americans: President Obama carried his GOP-bashing populist message to the heartland Tuesday, embracing Theodore Roosevelt as a Republican who rose above partisan orthodoxy to create a “fair chance” for all Americans, … – NY Daily News, 12-6-11
  • President Obama makes economic speech at the site of famous Theodore Roosevelt Address: President Obama is scheduled to deliver a speech at 1:55 pm ET Tuesday in Osawatomie, Kan. where his advisers say he will attempt to frame a conversation about the “economic future in this country.” Osawatomie is the town where … – WaPo, 12-6-11
  • Gov. Brownback will not attend Obama speech in Osawatomie: Instead, Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer and his family will attend the event, which is expected to draw as many as 20000 visitors to the Kansas town of 4447 residents. “It is always an honor to have the president in Kansas,” Brownback said in a statement. … – Kansas City Business Journal, 12-6-11
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