Thursday, July 5, 2018

From TR: The Musical - SECOND TERM BLUR

One thing that was so fun about creating this libretto is the subject himself!

               Theodore Roosevelt was never supposed to be President.  A crusading reformer as governor of New York, he had been nominated for the Vice Presidency in a move to politically neuter him!  But President McKinley's assassination elevated him to the White House, and he was so effective (and so popular!) that the GOP had no choice but to nominate him for a term of his own in 1904.  The Party's Old Guard didn't like him, but the Progressive wing of the party found in him a tireless champion.  Having voluntarily limited himself to two terms (the 22nd Amendment would not pass for another fifty years), Roosevelt knew he had to hit the ground running in his second term - and that is exactly what he did!

                       SECOND TERM BLUR


TR:  (Standing on a balcony, hand on the Bible, facing the Chief Justice)

I will faithfully execute the office of the Presidency of the United States, so help me God!

Are we done?  Thanks! For now I must needs walk where giants before me trod!

(turns to face audience)

My fellow Americans, it is a thrill to stand before you all today!

A second term, a term of my own – you gave me this thing for which I prayed.

Four years is an eternity if you spend it waiting for something that you dream of –

But it passes in an instant when the dream is real and you are doing what you love!

So forgive me on this fine March day if I cut my inaugural speech short –

So much to do, so little time!  You can read the papers for a full report!


(He turns and enters the White House, striding down the hall to the Oval Office)


Gentlemen of my cabinet, the clear cutting of our woodlands makes me nervous,

So I propose to Congress that we create a Federal Forestry service.

Let’s set aside a few million acres of our proud and ancient trees,

In National Forests, to be enjoyed by our grandchildren in future centuries.

Next, it’s been brought to my attention that Standard Oil is up to its old tricks;

Undercutting competition, bribing legislators, and making customers feel the prick!

So let’s shake the dust off of the good old Sherman Anti-Trust Act,

Slap them with an indictment, and watch J.D. Rockefeller react!

Nothing warms my heart more than to see the fat cats squirming

With their hands caught in the cookie jar, and public anger burning!
Remember, folks, that I have nothing against good, honest business –

But when companies turn all predatory, I’ll act with vengeful swiftness!

Railroads, bankers, oil men, all these industries serve their purpose –

They keep the country going and provide the public valuable service.

But why can’t these men just be content to earn a decent profit?

How can they gouge the hardworking poor and not see the evil of it?

So government must be the watchdog, protector, and defender of the public –

And the President must always speak justice from this magnificent bully pulpit!


Alice:  Speaking justice was what my father did, even when too few would listen –

Later generations who never knew him had no idea what they were missin’!

That second term was full of problems, and one tragic loss to boot –

Secretary John Hay finally died, and Dad replaced him with Elihu Root.

Things were also getting much tenser on the international scene –

The Far East had erupted in the bloodiest war that region had ever seen!

The Russian fleet got caught by surprise in a Japanese sneak attack –

And the Tsar sent his Baltic ships around the world on a voyage to strike back.

The Japanese were waiting for them at the Battle of Tsushima Straits –

And the Russian fleet went down in total defeat on that infamous date!

Then the war ground down to a bloody stalemate, neither side could win –

That was the point at which they asked “President Teddy” to step in!


TR: (seated at a conference table with the Japanese and Russian emissaries)

Gentlemen, thank you for agreeing to meet me here in Portsmouth, Maine –

I think that we can agree that this awful war has caused you both sufficient pain!

So since you have both asked me in good faith if I would arbitrate,

I ask you now to sit together, and put aside your mutual hate.

What does Japan seek to gain? On the sea you have the upper hand,

But Russia’s armies are hard to beat, and you’ve reached a stalemate on the land.


Sec. Root: The two adversaries wrangled and argued for a several days more;

Each hoping to gain enough to claim they’d got what they were fighting for!

But when all was said and done and the negotiations were completed,

The Treaty of Portsmouth was signed, and the Russians were defeated!

The Tsar was forced to reform his monarchy and give the people more power –

But President Roosevelt now became the hero of the hour!

When the peace conference ended, the whole world was surprised

That the Nobel Committee gave Roosevelt its coveted Peace Prize!


TR: That was certainly a great honor, but I dared not stop to relax –

Time was ticking , ticking, ticking and I still had more proposed acts!

My friend Upton Sinclair had gone undercover at great risk to expose

Just how dreadful our food industry had become, and now the public knows

The nastiness of slaughterhouses and unsanitary meat packing –

What better time to give our food supply the cleanliness it’s lacking!

Not to mention patent medicines, bottled up by snake oil salesmen

Although snake oil would be healthier for those who were seriously ailing!

All manner of trash and poison, sugar water and addictive drugs

Were packed up and sold without control, like they were Persian rugs!

So off to Congress I’ll now send my latest presentation –

To create a brand new Federal Food and Drug Administration!

And I’ll sign a law to protect our country’s sacred antiquities

From looters and commercial dealers who are stealing with great ease.

More national parks and monuments!  More beautiful places set aside

For future generations to behold with great wonder and pride!
I cannot rest upon my laurels, nor waste too much time on debate –

Next week will be time to admit Oklahoma as America’s forty-sixth state!

I need to regulate railroads better, and create Employer’s Liability laws

Four years will be gone in a flash!  I simply can’t afford to pause!

Once the mid-term elections have come and gone, I know what will happen –

Congress will sit on its arse and wait, unless I give them a good slapping!
They know my time is limited, they think all action can be deferred –

To counter that what I have to do is make my second term a blur!


Sec. Root:  Mister President, ‘tis nine o’clock! Your cabinet is drooping!

Don’t you think we should adjourn, and spend tomorrow regrouping?

You can’t do everything in a single day, no matter how hard you try –

And the finished product will surely be better if it’s not all done on the fly!


TR:  What say you, you old layabout?  You’re already getting tired?

Fine then, but be here at six AM or the lot of you are fired!

As for me I think I’ll change and practice some Japanese judo –

Anyone want to wrestle me now, and earn Presidential kudos?

What? No?  Fine then, I’ll practice all alone, and try not to make noise;

But wait! Perhaps my sons will wrestle me!  Let me call them!  BOYS!!!!


(Ted Jr, Quentin, Archie, and Kermit emerge from the residence and tackle their father, who rolls around on the floor with them, shouting “Bully!!”)



No comments:

Post a Comment