Anxious to put the bitter taste of a losing presidential campaign behind him, Former President Theodore Roosevelt decided to discover a new, 1,000-foot long tributary of the Amazon River. The year was 1914 and T.R. was 54 years of age.
To put things in perspective, 54 was not the new 34 in 1914. Rather, it was very close to the end for the average male, who lived to be about 60.
But, T.R. thrived on the new and different. So, along with his son, Kermit, a few specialists and about 20 local Brazilian soldiers, he set forth on what was then called the “River of Doubt.”
Three months and 55-pounds later, T.R. emerged from the wilderness. He’d contracted malaria, re-injured an old leg that became infected and watched as one of his men drowned and another was murdered. But he emerged victorious and returned to New York as a conquering hero.
I mention the T.R. story because a) it appealed to my sense of adventure and b) it struck me that none, repeat none, of our current leaders would ever contemplate such a risky trip.
T.R. lived his life in an all-out attempt to squeeze every second from it. He never walked around an obstacle but, rather, charged through it. There was no obfuscation. No flip-flopping.
What would T.R. do if he were alive today? Impossible to say, of course. But, based upon his image and reputation, he wouldn’t let things linger in Iraq. Nor would he allow gas prices to edge ever higher. The old trust buster wouldn’t take kindly to the endless downsizings, either.
We need a T.R. in the worst way. Sadly, the lightweights we’re stuck with couldn’t find the River of Doubt, much less navigate its treacherous path. And, the River of Doubt itself? Well, it’s now known as Rio Roosevelt in honor of the first man to chart its entire course.