4:01 PM, Apr 30, 2015 • By JONATHAN V. LAST
David Catanese has a long profile of Jeb Bush in U.S. News & World Report. It’s well worth reading. But this line really stuck out:
“If you’re looking for the current equivalent of Huey Long, he’s not that man. If you’re looking for Woodrow Wilson, that might be Jeb,” says Mac Stipanovich, a longtime Tallahassee, Florida-based Republican operative who has advised Bush.
This might be the worst endorsement in the history of American politics.
Last year, Christopher Caldwell wrote a long essay about Wilson for the Claremont Review of Books. It was titled, in CRB’s typically witty way, “Schoolmaster to the World.” Some highlights:
In his new biography, Wilson, A. Scott Berg, whose earlier Lindbergh (1998) won the Pulitzer Prize, notes a bizarre compulsion that Wilson acquired in his teens and kept till the end of his life. Any time he became part of a group or organization—from the Eumeneans at Davidson College to the Princeton baseball club to the Johns Hopkins Literary Society—he would dig up and then rewrite its constitution, usually seizing on some neglected provision which, in an emergency, could be wielded to make the system more efficient, hierarchical, and subject to his own wishes. . . .
His main thought about his own country's Constitution was that it was inadequate to the challenges of the day. (That was the meaning of the word "New" in the New Freedom he preached in his 1912 presidential run.) He preferred England's constitution, as Walter Bagehot described it—a combination of dignified pomp and efficient power exercised unapologetically in loco regis. At 19 he wished America had "England's form of government instead of the miserable delusion of a republic" and confided to his diary that "universal suffrage is the foundation of every evil in this country.”
But it wasn’t just Wilson’s contempt for constitutionalism as a concept that marked him. It was his temperament:
An intimate biography can be a useful window on a personalized presidency. The problem is, no one ever remained intimate with Wilson unless he showed he worshipped the ground Wilson walked on. Wilson wielded against all those who disagreed with him a vindictive, grudge-holding, lifelong hatred. He had fantasies of revenge and would go to great lengths to satisfy them in the smallest measure. During a visit to Princeton, he sent for his former best friend, Jack Hibben, his replacement as university president, only to tell him he did not wish to see him. (Berg takes a more neutral view of this incident.) His second wife, Edith, brought out his nastiness like a highlighting solution in an X-ray. After getting a note from her in which she wished for the death of Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan, Wilson replied, "What a dear partisan you are...and how you can hate, too!" Like many petty people, he was obsessed with the "bigness" and "smallness" of various human actions. On Armistice Day in 1922, addressing a crowd of true believers in the League of Nations, he said: "Puny persons who are now standing in the way will presently find that their weakness is no match for the strength of a moving Providence."
Sigmund Freud, who late in life co-authored a controversial study of Wilson, found one such episode bizarre and significant. On the night of Wilson's presidential election victory in 1912, the chairman of his campaign committee visited his house in Princeton. "Before we proceed," Wilson greeted him, "I wish it clearly understood that I owe you nothing. God ordained that I should be the next president of the United States. Neither you nor any other mortal could have prevented that.”
As a matter of policy, Caldwell notes that Wilson engineered the creation of what we think of as the modern administrative state:
Christopher Caldwell meets Ignominous IgnácMar 23, 2015, Vol. 20, No. 27 • By CHRISTOPHER CALDWELL
On a bright, zero-degree morning last month, as I was happily making my bed in the attic of friends in Brooklyn, I thought with a shudder of Ignác Hrubý. Being a houseguest is one of my joys. It combines security and adventure, familiarity and independence. Having houseguests used to be a joy, too. Until Iggy’s visit.
Bob Dylan’s ‘Basement Tapes’Mar 16, 2015, Vol. 20, No. 26 • By CHRISTOPHER CALDWELL
In the mid-1960s the most celebrated folk musician of his era bought a house for his growing family at the southern edge of the Catskills, in the nineteenth-century painters’ retreat of Woodstock. He was a “protest singer,” to use a term that was then new. His lyrics—profound, tender, garrulous—sounded like they were indicting the country for racism (“where black is the color where none is the number”), or prophesying civil war (“you don’t need a weatherman to know the way the wind blows”), or inviting young people to smoke dope (“everybody must get stoned”).
Christopher Caldwell, Hydrox hypochondriac Nov 3, 2014, Vol. 20, No. 08 • By CHRISTOPHER CALDWELL
A lot of people worry about Ebola these days. Not me. I’m calm, relatively speaking. That is, I’m calm, relative to the shuddering, sobbing basket case that the mere thought of infectious disease once reduced me to.
Christopher Caldwell's near-miss with destinyJul 14, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 41 • By CHRISTOPHER CALDWELL
A few weeks ago the Times Literary Supplement ran a photograph of the grisliest act of violence in Italy since World War II—Italy’s equivalent of our own September 11 attacks. In 1980 a shadowy group of homegrown terrorists planted a time bomb in the waiting room of the Bologna Central station. When it went off at 10:25 a.m., the roof collapsed on bystanders. The blast cut through people standing on the platform and blew apart much of a nearby train. Eighty-five dead, hundreds wounded.
Bad omens.9:30 AM, Jun 1, 2010 • By MATTHEW CONTINETTI
The most ominous aspect of the flotilla incident is Turkey's involvement. The flotilla bound for Gaza, in violation of the blockade, was allowed to leave a Turkish port. The main sponsor was a Turkish charity known for ties to jihadist groups. The Turkish diplomatic and governmental apparatus sprung into action at the first sign of trouble -- which of course there was, since the "peace activists" onboard the flotilla were masked and armed with lead pipes and knives.
The issue that won't go away.3:36 PM, May 6, 2010 • By MATTHEW CONTINETTI
When I first heard about Arizona law SB 1070, I was taken aback. Press coverage suggested the law authorized state and local police to go around demanding someone's papers on the slightest suspicion that he or she is an illegal immigrant. The clear implication was that Hispanic communities would be targeted. And since this seemed to violate constitutional protections against unreasonable search and seizure and equality before the law, my inclination was to oppose the bill.
Final reflections on Communism’s failure.Mar 1, 2010, Vol. 15, No. 23 • By CHRISTOPHER CALDWELL
Last Exit to Utopia
The Survival of Socialism
in a Post-Soviet Era
by Jean-François Revel
The German magazine interviews Weekly Standard senior editor Christopher Caldwell about Muslims in Europe.2:00 PM, Jan 9, 2010 • By VICTORINO MATUS
On a few occasions and much to its credit, Der Spiegel has gone out in search of that odd species (to most Germans, at least) known as the conservative—and in particular, conservative intellectuals who make powerful arguments. (Some Germans with whom I've spoken could not admit to being persuaded by the likes of, say, Robert Kagan. What they normally say is, "He is provocative.") Last October the magazine interviewed Weekly Standard contributing editor Charles Krauthammer who must have surely left readers mystified by his opinions. When asked about President Obama receiving the Nobel Peace Prize, Krauthammer replied, "It is so comical. Absurd. Any prize that goes to Kellogg and Briand, Le Duc Tho and Arafat, and Rigoberta Menchú, and ends up with Obama, tells you all you need to know. For Obama it's not very good because it reaffirms the stereotypes about him as the empty celebrity." Wahnsinn!
And just last month my colleague Christopher Caldwell was interviewed about Europe's efforts to integrate the Muslim population.
From the January 19, 2004 issue: Can French secularism survive Islam?Jan 19, 2004, Vol. 9, No. 18 • By CHRISTOPHER CALDWELL
IN LATE DECEMBER, Mohamed Hussein Fadlallah, spiritual leader of the Lebanese radical organization Hezbollah, released to the Western media a letter in which he complained of a "stripping of liberties from Muslims, even when they have not disobeyed the law," and warned of an emerging climate "hostile to religion and to Muslim citizens." The tone was not unusual for a Hezbollah letter. What was unusual was the addressee.