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https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/theodore-roosevelt-on-criticizing-the-president/

 

Colonel Roosevelt’s criticisms of the Administration were not widely popular. The Star never had any idea they would be popular, but it believed they were right and for the real good of the country. As he had foreseen when the connection was made, “Many of your subscribers will be perfectly furious at The Star for printing my editorials.” They were. They wrote to The Star to denounce the Colonel for writing the articles and The Star for printing them. In popular discussion in the Middle West forms of disapproval ranged from “He should stand by the President” to “He should be stood before a stone wall and shot.”

It was comments like these, exacerbated by suggestions from elements within the Wilson administration that Roosevelt’s views ought somehow to be suppressed, that prompted him to craft this high-minded rebuttal:

The President is merely the most important among a large number of public servants. He should be supported or opposed exactly to the degree which is warranted by his good conduct or bad conduct, his efficiency or inefficiency in rendering loyal, able, and disinterested service to the Nation as a whole. Therefore it is absolutely necessary that there should be full liberty to tell the truth about his acts, and this means that it is exactly necessary to blame him when he does wrong as to praise him when he does right. Any other attitude in an American citizen is both base and servile. To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public. Nothing but the truth should be spoken about him or any one else. But it is even more important to tell the truth, pleasant or unpleasant, about him than about any one else.

 The Kansas City Star, 7 May 1918

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