You don’t hear that much expression anymore. Now if you say you did something exciting you might get a dry “good for you.” Or more modern, “awesome.”
Of course, only girls get a “you go, girl.” Or some women, I’d guess. But I’ve always liked “bully for you,” probably because I’m old and I like familiar things.
A few weeks ago Danusia and I were watching the six o’clock news when the commentator mentioned that Trump was going to use the “Bully Pulpit.” Danusia looked at me and asked, “What does bully pulpit mean?”
“It means using your platform to push a particular agenda,” I said.
Then I got all professorial and explained to her how it had originated with Theodore Roosevelt, who was fond of describing anything he liked as “bully.” Actually it wasn’t just him, bully was a common expression in the 19th century, meaning cool or awesome. Or boss, if you want to get 1960s about it.
When I was 11 or 12 I discovered a Classic Comics issue all about Theodore Roosevelt, and devoured it. Liked it so much I read it over and over again, and it gave me a lot of inspiration.
It depicted him as a weak child who went out west to get tough. He had to work at it, and he had the gumption to overcome physical weakness. It made me want to go out west and hunt rustlers and go big game hunting. Made me want to have weak eyes so I could wear a pince-nez. I did eventually get to grow a mustache.
As I got older I kind of lost track of all of the idealistic stuff, especially after I started reading some real history and realizing that despite his heart of gold T.R. could be a real bully at times. He ostracized his younger brother for being a drunk, and the brother eventually committed suicide.
He was really gung ho about the Spanish American war; a newspaper manufactured war if there ever was one, and formed his own private army when he couldn’t get into the U.S. Army. He certainly didn’t lack for bloodlust. Here I could talk about all the animals he killed because he loved killing, but he was also a conservationist, and under his administration established the National Parks Service, as well as setting aside federal land for National Parks. That was all very “bully.”
But let’s not forget his “Corollary to the Monroe Doctrine,” and his help to Japan in their annexation of Korea in the early part of the last century, definite big bully stuff.
Which brings us to President Trump’s bully pulpit. The last couple of days I’d say it’s more of a brow-beating pulpit, where he’s tried to harangue his own party into passing his half-assed health care bill, which should be called Trumpdon’tcare. Now that’s more of a mouthful than Obamacare, but we can make it work. The Trumpdon’tcare act. You heard it here first. Remember, he doesn’t even like Trumpcare.
So they decided not to have the vote yesterday, and who knows what will happen later today, except either gloating or finger pointing (It was Paul Ryan’s fault!) but it will most certainly be more of the same.
I wonder if there is any way we could dig up old T.R. and have him cloned? At least he believed in saving the land. He’d kill that pipeline right quick.
And besides, he famously said of the Russians in 1905:
“No human beings, black, yellow, or white could be quite as untruthful, as insincere, as arrogant- in short as untrustworthy in every way as the Russians.”
He said that while he was helping the Japanese annex Korea in secret. Hey, he won the Nobel Peace prize for that one. Go, Teddy.
All images from the Classic Comics issue were downloaded from the internet.