Claim: List presents similarities between Theodore Roosevelt and Sarah Palin.
Status: Multiple — see below.
Example: [Collected via e-mail, September 2008]
This is from the Wall Street Journal:
Who Am I?
I am under 45 years old,
Did you guess?
I am Teddy Roosevelt in 1900.
Origins: This item is an example of the common “blind comparison” feature in which the reader is presented with a list of qualities that seemingly describe a contemporary figure, only to be informed at the end of the
piece that the person referenced is actually a well-known historical personage — the point being to create a favorable (or unfavorable, as the case may be) comparison between the contemporary figure and the historical one.
In this case the obvious comparison is between former U.S. president Theodore Roosevelt and Alaskan governor Sarah Palin, the 2008 Republican nominee for vice-president. (The mention of the Wall Street Journal appears to be a reference to a reader’s comment submitted in response to an editorial in that publication about John McCain’s selection of Governor Palin as his running mate.) But is it an accurate comparison? That question has been answered two different ways.
In a strict literal sense, the comparison could fairly be considered accurate. Both Theodore Roosevelt and Sarah Palin were in their second years as governors of states (New York and Alaska, respectively) when they were nominated as Republican candidates for the vice-presidency. Both Roosevelt (41) and Palin (44) were under
The opposite train of thought is that this comparison belongs in the “technically true but intentionally misleading” category, simply presenting a few superficial similarities between the two figures while ignoring their substantial differences, particularly in the areas of background and experience:
As is often the case, which answer is considered the more “correct” is likely to be the one most aligned with the reader’s political ideology.
Last updated: 14 September 2008