Jeffrey Rosen: Obama Behaving Like Woodrow WilsonRoundup: Media's Take
tags: Barack Obama, The New Republic, Woodrow Wilson, Jeffrey Rosen
...Obama’s rediscovery of the 1917 Espionage Act is grimly appropriate, since the president whose behavior on civil liberties he is most directly channeling isn’t, in fact, Richard Nixon or George W. Bush. It’s Woodrow Wilson. An enthusiastic supporter of Espionage Act prosecutions, the progressive, detached, technocratic Wilson was so convinced of his own virtue that he was willing to jail the Socialist candidate for president, Eugene V. Debs, for his mild criticism of the war, even as he championed progressive reforms such as the Federal Reserve and the Federal Trade Commission, both of them designed with the help of his economic advisor, Louis Brandeis.
Wilson had a sorry record on civil liberties, and once Brandeis was on the Supreme Court, he eloquently criticized the Wilson administration for its betrayal of progressive values such as free speech and transparency, declaring that “sunlight is the best disinfectant,” and unforgettably extolling the necessity of protecting political dissent.
Let’s hope today’s progressives teach the Wilsonian Obama a similar lesson.
comments powered by Disqus
- Rise of Donald Trump Tracks Growing Debate Over Global Fascism
- Tales of African-American History Found in DNA
- History Celebrates New Show Roots With Project to Digitize Post-Slavery Documents
- In 1453, this Ottoman sultan ended Christian rule in Constantinople. But was he a good Muslim?
- Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation among documents sold for $6.2m in New York
- History Relevance Campaign meets at the Smithsonian
- Bernard Lewis Turns 100
- David Lowenthal, author of "The Past Is a Foreign Country,” says it’s folly to scratch the names of slaveholders off buildings
- Jean Edward Smith, biographer of FDR and Ike, has a new biography coming out … of George W. Bush
- Flora Fraser, biographer of George and Martha Washington, wins $50,000 George Washington Prize