The Corner

TR Not Squeaky?

A number of readers have written me in agreement with Terry Teachout.  A few of them also included recordings (here for instance) & I’ve listened.  A tenor, definitely, but I wouldn’t say squeaky.  However, it may be that 1912 audio technology couldn’t capture squeakiness.

Gore Vidal got the thing about Theodore Roosevelt having a squeaky voice from the Washington insiders he grew up amongst, any of whom had known TR personally.  There are other sources, though.  A reader passed on this snippet from “Rough Rider in the White House: Theodore Roosevelt and the Politics of Desire,” by Sarah Watts: 

For an Easterner to cross the divide into essential manhood, he must somehow appropriate the amoral energy of the American West that Mark Twain had described. Roosevelt’s own cowboy-soldier life testified to that, but first he had to create a persona that he most surely was not born with. He entered the New York state assembly in 1881 at age twenty-three, having overcome poor health just like his idol Abraham Lincoln. He still appeared unmanly, and newspapers and his fellow assemblymen ridiculed his ‘high, squeaky’ voice and dandified clothing, referring to him as ‘Jane-Dandy,’ ‘Punkin-Lily,’ and ‘our own Oscar Wilde.’ The New York World proclaimed him ‘chief of the dudes.’ Duly insulted, he began to construct a new physical image around appropriately virile Western decorations and settings, foregrounding the bodily attributes of a robust outdoorsman that were becoming new features in the nation’s political iconography. 

Most Popular


Trump’s Disgraceful Press Conference in Helsinki

On Monday, President Trump gave a deeply disgraceful press conference with Russian dictator Vladimir Putin. The presser began with Trump announcing that although the Russia–U.S. relationship has “never been worse than it is now,” all of that “changed as of about four hours ago.” It was downhill from ... Read More

Questions for Al Franken

1)Al, as you were posting on social media a list of proposed questions for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, did it occur to you that your opinion on the matter is no more relevant than Harvey Weinstein’s? 2) Al, is it appropriate for a disgraced former U.S. senator to use the Twitter cognomen “U.S. ... Read More
National Security & Defense

Trump’s Helsinki Discord

Donald Trump is not, and never will be, the Moscow correspondent for The Nation magazine, and he shouldn’t sound like it. The left-wing publication is prone to extend sympathetic understanding to adversaries of the United States and find some reason, any reason, to blame ourselves for their external ... Read More