Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

With Praise Like This...

A piece over at The New Republic asks why it is that more people don't love Woodrow Wilson. It's opening seems to answer that question pretty easily:
[W]hy aren’t contemporary liberals bestowing the same praise on Woodrow Wilson as they lavish on Franklin Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson? Granted, if he were running today, Woodrow Wilson wouldn’t win a single Democratic primary and would no doubt be heckled out of the race. Raised in the South, he smiled on Jim Crow and did not object when two of his cabinet appointees re-segregated their departments. A crusading Presbyterian, he vowed to “teach the Latin American republics to elect good men” and dispatched troops to Mexico and Haiti when they didn’t follow his advice. During World War I, he enforced new laws that effectively outlawed most dissent from government policy.
Though really, the reasons they list for lauding him seem a little suspect as well:
Yet Wilson, together with his allies on Capitol Hill, also laid the foundation for the 20th century liberal state. He signed bills that created the Federal Reserve and progressive income tax rates, secured humane working conditions for merchant seamen and railroad workers, restricted child labor and curbed the power of large corporations. After the U.S. entered the war in Europe, his administration began operating the railroads, lifting the hopes of leftists who had long advocated public ownership of what was then a rich and vital industry.

In 1916, Wilson accepted renomination with a speech that defined political conflict in terms that remain surprisingly fresh. Our programs, he told his fellow Democrats were “resisted at every step by the interests which the Republican Party … catered to and fostered at the expense of the country, and these same interests are now earnestly praying for a reaction which will save their privileges, for the restoration of their sworn friends to power before it is too late to recover what they have lost.”
How can anyone dislike someone who both nationalized the railroads and was hated by Republicans?

Actually, the rest of the piece is kind of a hoot too, since it then moves on to arguing that liberals should love Wilson more because FDR and LBJ really were pretty flawed too. Overall, I have to wonder if this is the sort of piece that conservatives are destined to enjoy much more than liberals. Which does nothing to answer the question of why TNR ran it.


Joseph Moore said...

Woodrow Wilson was despicable. This classic bit of dishonesty "Raised in the South, he smiled on Jim Crow and did not object when two of his cabinet appointees re-segregated their departments." is sort of like saying Al Capone allowed some people to get shot. Wilson was a racist anti-Catholic bigot who oversaw the resegregation of the federal government, whose elitist views of schooling included making sure that us little people didn't get our heads full of book learning and get all upity, since we were only good for manual labor anyway.

He got us into a war he said he wouldn't get us into, and then, his naive grasp of international politics and indifference to the fates of the people on the ground help set the stage for WWII.

Other than that, a great guy. Nationalizing the railroads might actually be a high point...

Joseph Moore said...

About FDR: "He also might have been more suspicious of Stalin’s postwar designs on Eastern Europe."

Ya think?

This essay is a scream.

Darwin said...

A friend recently observed of FDR's dealings with Stalin, "US foreign policy with regards to the Soviet Union after WW2 was so incompetent, you could almost think it was being run by communist spies." A sort of dry understatement I can't help cackling at.