Tuesday, June 19, 2018

TR: THE MUSICAL - "The Election of 1904"

  It started as a joke, early this year - one of my friends sent me a few couplets of an imaginary, HAMILTON-style musical about Theodore Roosevelt.  That's when it hit me:
  Why SHOULDN'T the most fascinating, audacious, brave, and innovative President in American history have his own musical?  Of course, I can't write music - but I can rhyme with the best of them!  So I started stringing together one song after another, and eventually I came up with a full, two act musical.  This is a song from early in the second act, when the "accidental President" Theodore Roosevelt decides to run for a full term in his own right - and makes an unfortunate pledge in the process!  I hope you enjoy it, and don't forget to check out my new author page: 

                    THE ELECTION OF 1904


Alice Roosevelt:  My Daddy’s accidental Presidency sparked a strong reaction;

By the end of his first term the Republicans divided into factions –

You still had all the Old Guard, the pawns of banks and railroads,

What a bunch of fat cats! Dad called them “obsequious toads!”

Then you had the Progressives, the men my father inspired greatly –

Ready to change things for the better, reforming everything immediately!

The Democrats, especially the ones down South, thought my Dad an awful sinner –

They blew their tops when he dared invite a black man to a White House dinner!

But their party was divided too, between Bryan and his populist progressives

And the Wall Street, gold standard crew of bosses, crooks, and social regressives!

The only competition my Daddy had was old Senator Mark Hanna –

Who had spent four years promoting McKinley and playing second banana.

But wouldn’t you know it, in February Senator Hanna started feeling badly,

Then he died and left the GOP with no choice but to renominate my Daddy!

On the other side, the Democrats over Bryan and Cleveland had to climb –

For twenty years those two men had been nominated every single time!

But the bosses won this round, while the Progressives were divided –

Judge Alton Parker got the nod, and the Old Guard was delighted!

So now let’s join my Presidential father as he hits the campaign trail –

Life is always fun when the Democrats are guaranteed to fail!


TR:  Well, gentlemen, I’ve spoken my piece at length and fully –

In one word, our country’s condition may be summed up as “Bully!”

Reforms are underway, corruption is punished; our economy is thriving, 

It’s always a smooth ride when the Republicans do the driving!

America is now respected and looked up to, our flag flies high around the world –

Why should we change course and flee the field with our banners tightly furled?

If you like what you have seen me do, since the year that I stepped up,

Then vote me a term I can call my own, and I’ll be even harder to stop!

There’s still a lot that I can do, to make this country a better place to live in –

Step up and vote!  Persuade your friends, and we’ll see the Democrats give in!

I am your President Theodore!  I’m still young and tough, so hear me roar!

I’ve got all kinds of progressive plans, now that my foot’s through the door.

Slam it all you want and I will grin and ask for more –

Now the whole world surely knows the name of Theodore!


Reporter:  Mister Roosevelt – you were the youngest President ever at forty-two

And even if you are re-elected, you’ll be just fifty when you bid us all adieu!

Have you given any thought to breaking with George Washington’s tradition –

And run for President again in ’08, and keep yourself in your current position?

It’s not against the law, you know, to run for a third term in office,

So why not see if the voters then, prefer you to some political novice?


TR: (looking thoughtful)

   That’s a most excellent question, sire, and I am glad that you inquired.

For you see, my political opponents have often said that I’m inspired

By a lust for power that’s no different from some brutal medieval despot!

So now let me set their fears to rest, and give their minds a respite.

I succeeded President McKinley when his term was only six months old;

I tried to be true to his legacy, and still provide leadership strong and bold.

Now I ask for a term of my own, something no accidental President has ever had.

If the voters grant my wish, then I promise not to run again, for it would be bad

To break the precedent so wisely set, by George Washington himself.

So once four years have passed us by, I’ll return to the political shelf,

And leave the White House open to whoever the voters decide to elect –

I’ll return to civilian life, travel, write books, hunt, explore, and reflect

On this remarkable nation that will have given me its highest honor,

And hope my humble efforts will enrich and reflect glory on her.


Reporter:  (rushes to the telephone)

Hold the presses, boss, I’ve got a story that will dominate the front page –

Roosevelt just totally ruled out a third term, despite his youthful age!

Progressives will rue the day he made this pledge, make no mistake –

And the bosses now will realize that they have finally caught a decent break!

No president has ever served at such an early age as this one,

Now he’s gone and pledged that this second term will end his mission!


(Scene shifts to White House)


John Hay:  It’s official, Mister President!  You have my congratulations!

You’ve been re-elected by a landslide, by a majority of our nation.

It’s the biggest win since James Monroe, who ran without any opposition –

You won every state except the South, and crushed the Democrats’ ambitions.

It’s been an honor serving you, but now I think I shall retire,

Enjoy my grandchildren, and wish you well, whoever you may hire!


TR:  Thank you, Mister Secretary; it’s been an honor to be served by you –

Your expertise has helped me often, as I pondered what else I should do.

I am elated that I have won; the nation’s people have been most kind –

And yet I confess that I am troubled by one thought in the back of my mind.

I feel guilty to even mention it, on this blissful election day –

But confound it all, thanks to my pledge – I only have four more years to play!


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