Saturday, September 15, 2012

Today -100: September 15, 1912: Of outworn academic doctrine and splits


Oh dear, Roosevelt is playing the egg-head card against Woodrow Wilson. A few days ago, Wilson criticized the Bull Moosers and TR’s plans to increase the power and size of government to match the increase in power and size of corporations. Wilson said that the “history of liberty is a history of the limitation of governmental power” and “As to the monopolies, which Mr. Roosevelt proposes to legalize and to welcome... I do not look forward with pleasure to the time when the juggernauts are licensed and driven by commissioners of the United States.” [I may have quotes from 2 different recent speeches there.] TR calls this “a bit of outworn academic doctrine which was kept in the school room and the professorial study for a generation after it had been abandoned by all who had had experience of actual life.” Also, liberty equaled limitation of government power when there were kings, not when power is held (ha!) by the people.

I suppose it’s inevitable that the anti-intellectual card would be played against the former president of Princeton, but by Roosevelt? TR wrote more books and articles than Wilson ever did, on a wider variety of subjects, including history, zoology, ornithology, literature (here he is on Dante), and certainly read more (Wilson was a slow reader) and in more languages (he was a big fan of German poetry). TR was no great thinker, but if you compare him to recent “smart” presidents like Clinton and Obama, his range of intellectual interests was much greater.

California holds county party conventions. At many of the Republican ones, Taft supporters bolt to hold separate conventions, including Los Angeles, Bakersfield, Riverside, etc.

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