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Ed Driscoll

Getting Woody And Teddy

March 15th, 2010 - 12:34 am

At the Corner, Jonah Goldberg writes, “As anyone who’s read my book knows, I am a member in good standing of the Woodrow Wilson Haters Club:”

The exciting news is that almost everyone wants to be a member these days. Glenn Beck — partly influenced by my book — has been on a jihad against Wilson for a while now. At CPAC, he pretty much opened with “I hate Woodrow Wilson with everything in me.” (If you want to read a pretty unpersuasive rejoinder to Beck’s Wilson hatred, see Thomas Frank’s latest weird column.)This is a fascinating (to me) turn of events, because it’s been a long time in coming. If you go back and look through the archives of National Review, there really isn’t all that much anti-Wilson sentiment outside the topic of Versailles. This, I think, can be partly explained by the prism of  Cold War anti-Communism (we can discuss that more later if you want!). Ditto if you search through WFB’s columns for stuff about Wilson. Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn was no fan of Wilson’s and the Rothbardian libertarians had him, and the progressive era, pegged better than most.

* * *

I should have seen some of this coming when my book came out. I had expected my Wilson chapter to attract some very pointed and defensive attacks from his defenders and from liberals generally. But most reviewers simply ignored or conceded the bulk of my anti-Wilsonism. If memory serves, Matt Yglesias tried to disown Wilson, going so far as to whine that you can’t even call Wilson a liberal (tell that to TNR). Meanwhile, even as this was going on, the Left was proving itself much more eager to fully embrace the Progressive Era. During the Democratic primaries, both Obama and Hillary Clinton explicitly, boldly, and proudly associated themselves with Wilson-era Progressivism.

This is all very exciting because it suggests that after a very, very, long postponement a real argument about the Progressive Revolution might actually commence.

Meanwhile, in an article at Commentary titled “Smearing Theodore Roosevelt,” Jonathan Tobin notes that Wilson’s predecessor Progressive, who has long been second only to Abraham Lincoln as every liberal’s favorite Republican, has recently been the subject of curious revisionist attacks from the “modern” left.

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