Tag Archives: President Woodrow Wilson

William Howard Taft: He who never wanted to be president, had sleep apnea and would have hated Herr Adolph Frump . . . yes!

We loathe Herr Adolph Frump.Yet William Howard Taft, who never wanted to be president and yearned instead to serve as chief justice of the United States, would have despised him even more.  Taft was the anti-Frump. He approached every decision as president in constitutional terms and believed the president could only do what the constitution explicitly allowed. He criticized Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson for ruling by executive orders and circumventing Congress on issues
ranging from the environment to economic policy. He criticized Roosevelt and Wilson for endorsing populism, criticizing judges by name, and arguing that the people had the right to overturn judicial decisions. He is a model of a pro-free trade, anti-protectionist, pro-environment, pro-immigration Republican–the opposite of Frump.

William Howard Taft

God bless the man who Taft had sleep apnea; he weighed more 300 pounds as president and, unable to sleep through the night, he would fall asleep in public
throughout the day, prompting his wife to prod him awake with a kindly prod. But after he lost 75 pounds on his paleo diet, he was alert and productive for the rest
of his happy life.

In the provocative assessment William Howard Taft (Times Books, $26), Jeffrey Rosen reveals Taft’s crucial role in shaping how America balances populism against the rule of law. Taft approached each decision as president by asking whether it comported with the Constitution, seeking to put Roosevelt’s activist executive orders on firm legal grounds. But unlike Roosevelt, who thought the president could do anything the Constitution didn’t forbid, Taft insisted he could do only what the Constitution explicitly allowed. This led to a dramatic breach with Roosevelt in the historic election of 1912, which Taft viewed as a crusade to defend the Constitution against the demagogic populism of Roosevelt and Wilson.

President William Howard Taft throws out the first pitch to start the season for the Washington Senators in 1912. | AP Photo
President William Howard Taft throws out the first pitch to start the season for the Washington Senators in 1912.

Nine years later, Taft achieved his lifelong dream when President Warren Harding appointed him chief justice, and during his years on the Court he promoted consensus among the justices and transformed the judiciary into a modern, fully equal branch. Though he had chafed in the White House as a judicial president, he thrived as a presidential chief justice.

The book is filled with wonderful detail, a feast for those who loathe the Herr.

“American Experience: The Great War” offers promises made that have been long forgotten

It was a war whose participants were to “make the safe for democracy”. That has been largely forgotten.

Drawing on the latest scholarship, including unpublished diaries, memoirs and letters, American Experience: The Great War (PBS Distribution) tells the rich and complex story of World War I through the voices of nurses, journalists, aviators and the American troops who came to be known as “doughboys.”

The three-disc set, featuring the voices of Campbell Scott, Blythe Danne and Courtney Vance, will be available on DVD May 16; the program will also be available for digital download.

Can’t wait? The Great War premieres Monday, April 10, through Wednesday, April 12, 9:00-11:00 p.m. ET (check local listings) on PBS.

The series explores the experiences of African-American and Latino soldiers, suffragists, Native-American “code talkers” and others whose participation in the war to “make the world safe for democracy” has been largely forgotten. The program also explores how a brilliant PR man bolstered support for the war in a country hesitant to put lives on the line for a foreign conflict; how President Woodrow Wilson steered the nation through three-and-a-half years of neutrality, only to reluctantly lead America into the bloodiest conflict the world had ever seen, thereby transforming the United States into a dominant player on the international stage; and how the ardent patriotism and determination to support America’s crusade for liberty abroad led to one of the most oppressive crackdowns on civil liberties at home in American history.

It is also a story of little known heroism and sacrifice (including the deadliest battle in American history) that would leave more than 53,000 men dead on the battlefield and more than 60,000 dead from disease. American fatalities would come at a critical time in the war, but they would be dwarfed by a cataclysm of violence that would ultimately claim 15 million lives.