Talking heads on TV – news, analysis, political and economic commentary; in almost all cases, individuals selected in these positions fall into one of three categories:
1) There are the zealots – state-propagandists posing as deep thinking intellectuals. These are typically found on the Sunday morning talk shows or public television.
2) Then there are the bombasts – loud, obnoxious, certain of their views and certain that anyone who disagrees is an idiot.
3) Finally, the pretty faces. Stick to the script; free-flowing dialogue offers the risk of exposure.
There are only a few who do not fit in any of these categories (frankly, so few that I have found no reason to watch any of it since I saw the light). One of these few has recently written a book: “Theodore and Woodrow: How Two American Presidents Destroyed Constitutional Freedom,” by Judge Andrew Napolitano. (Thank goodness for YouTube!)
One thought regularly and often went through my mind while reading the book: Judge Napolitano has within him a breadth and depth not found in many, and virtually non-existent within those whom I will hesitantly label his peers.
Through the actions of Teddy Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson, Napolitano lays bare the foundation of the disaster that is today’s US government. He exposes the roots of the ruination as manifest in every avenue of government and political life – legal, financial, monetary, foreign policy, regulatory, propaganda, etc.
From the Author’s Note:
You can see where we are going in this book. This is not a biography of either Wilson or Roosevelt. It does not purport to present them fairly. This is, quite simply, a case against them.
I laughed out loud when I first read this; how many hagiographers of politicians and war criminals (but I repeat myself) readily admit their bias? I only take one exception with Napolitano in this statement, and it is a significant exception: any fair presentation of virtually any president would also be “a case against them.”
But I will easily forgive him this error.
It is clear when reading the book that Napolitano is not a talking head – in him is a mind that has explored and considered the entire expanse of issues on this topic; he has connected these to very specific actions of the two subject presidents.
For this reason, my review will take a somewhat different approach; I will offer cites from the book with little if any further comment. My intent is to make evident Judge Napolitano’s depth and breadth of knowledge: his words will suffice; mine will only get in the way.
Your Vote Counts?
Regarding the 1912 Republican Presidential nomination, ultimately won by Taft:
When the [direct-election] primaries were said and done, Roosevelt won 278 delegates, Taft won 48 delegates, and La Follette won 36…. But Taft controlled the boss-controlled primaries, so when the convention came around, neither man had the necessary 540 delegates to secure the nomination.
…the Republican National Committee was firmly behind its man, Taft. The members awarded 235 of the remaining delegates to Taft and only 19 to Roosevelt, putting Taft far over the threshold of 540 needed to secure the nomination. (p. 10)
Roosevelt went on to run under a third-party – the Progressive Party. He lost, but split enough of the Republican vote to ensure Wilson’s victory. Napolitano outlines the Progressive Party platform. It includes national health service, social insurance for the elderly, various workers’ rights, a federal securities commission, an inheritance tax, a federal income tax, women’s suffrage, and direct election of senators. (p. 13) I probably don’t have to mention that every plank of this platform has since been enacted.
Roosevelt actually played spoiler to the candidate he would least want to be president: The Republican incumbent and his former close friend, William Howard Taft. (p. 17)