I have recently completed a biography of Woodrow Wilson written by August Heckscher. There are many things that I could say about our 28th president from reading this somewhat lengthy tome, but I choose to confine my musings to just one topic.
Prior to reading this book I would have thought of probably three things when thinking of Wilson. They would be his efforts at establishing the League of Nations, his wartime presidency and his second wife, Edith Bolling Galt Wilson, whom he married on December 8, 1916.
The events surrounding Wilson’s stroke in 1919 and the subsequent effect on his life and his presidency have always been a fascination to me. For the first time I was able to read a detailed account of those events, by, I might add, a sympathetic biographer.
As most observers of presidential history know, Mr Wilson’s stroke occurred on October 1, 1919. This event took place shortly after his return from a grueling trip to the western US in a vain attempt to sell the League of Nations. The stroke probably was not a great surprise since warning signs had been clear both in the recent and more distant past.
Mrs Wilson was actually the person to find Wilson and from now to the end of his term, she and his physician Dr Cary Grayson were those most in the know. Grayson was generally responsible for issuing the concerned but generally unspecific health bulletins, as well as having the medical responsibility.
Although the cabinet, a few trusted advisers and the vice-president knew of his condition, no one was willing to certify as unable to perform his presidential duties, although he was. Thus began the most elaborate cover up in presidential history, at least to that point.
So, what of Mrs Wilson’s role? Throughout she had one overriding goal. Her husband’s life was above the effective functioning of the government. Mrs Wilson said of her activities, “the only decision that was mine, was what was important and what was not.” Now if that were true, she would be in effect acting as a modern chief of staff and serving as the gatekeeper for the president. For that alone she was not qualified, much less some of her other duties. She was intelligent but with very, very little formal education. She was of course affected by her own prejudices, preferences, likes and dislikes.
The author asks and answers this question, Was she running the country? He said no, that the country was not running at all. I realize that I am disagreeing with one far more informed and knowledgable than I about the events, but will proceed to do so.
Here is his reasoning. She only had power in determining who saw Wilson and what he would hear, as well as exercising control over what information went out. Even in that day, that was significant indeed. Among other things she pushed aside long serving advisers such as Col Edward House and Joseph Tumulty. On the signature issue of that time, the League, evaluate this. When she received a letter from Senator Hitchcock about a possible compromise, her response was no. Other questions submitted to him came back with a reply in Mrs Wilson’s handwriting. She often prevented letters he attempted to write from reaching the light of and thus embarrassing Wilson. She was even influential in forcing Sec of State Lansing to resign.And Joshua Alexander who was a sort of random pick as the new Sec of Commerce was actually interviewed by Mrs Wilson. Her influence was often felt in deciding where Wilson coud appear and for how long.
So on the two major issues that affected the entire course of the government, she had no effective opposition. The first, keeping hidden the true nature of Wilson’s illness ( already mentioned) and keeping Wilson from resigning. And what strikes me as perhaps the most intriguing of all is this. Prior to their marriage, Wilson was sending the widowed Mrs Galt state papers of which he expected her to read and comment. The future even then foreshadowed ? Seems so, does it not?
Events in Egypt are still unfolding. The anti-government protests are into day#14 and the final outcome is far from being determined.So, what can we say at this point? Therein lies a problem. What one says sort of “smells” like instant analysis. Although that is a staple of our culture, it often misses the boat completely. As an illustration, look at how the Obama administration has reacted or spoken at various times since events began to unfold.
Remember vice-president Biden saying that Mubarak was not a dictator and should not resign? Then we have Secretary Clinton saying that we are not advocating any specific outcome but then urging an orderly transition. The President has spoken to Mubarak, probably more than once and has reportedly urged him to go. He has stated that we hear you in referring to the demonstrators. Today he said that Egypt was not going back to the way it was, although I believe the Egyptian military will have a big say in that. He opined that the Muslim Brotherhood will have a role but not a significant one. He accurately said that we cannot dictate to Egypt but we want to see orderly change. By definition, that seems to be quite unlikely.
But what most grabbed my attention in the Associated Press article were the phrases “pro-democracy protests” and ”pro-democracy protesters.” I don’t know if those words came from Robert Burns or Kimberly Dozier who bylined the article. And I hesitate to comment to strongly but I firmly believe those characterizations are way off base. It would be wonderful to see a democracy in Egypt. But what ever form of government emerges, it will not be a democracy. If there were a way to ask a representative sample of those demonstrating if they were pro democracy you would get few if any takers. As an illustration walk backwards in egyptian history ans see what you discover.
So we watch and we wait and we wonder and some of us demonstrate in support of Egypt. Those of us who are so inclined would also do well to pray.
- Only Revolutions (dalyhistory.wordpress.com)
- Egypt: Book Banned by Mubarak Predicted Egyptian Revolution (prweb.com)
Never been to Gainesville,Fl before although I have been nearby. I also have never met Pastor Terry Jones who leads a small church of about 50 folks named the Dove Outreach Center. Remarkably, Jones has managed to make himself notorious on an international level, quite a feat in itself. He has received a number of death threats and has started carrying a gun himself. So, what has this heretofore unknown person done to draw attention from Gen David Petraeus, Hilary Clinton, Michael Bloomberg, Eric Holder , Rush Limbaugh, ( who appropriately calls him a lunatic) Robert Gates, Angelina Jolie and countless unnamed but now angry Muslims worldwide?
He has for some inexplicable reason announced a plan to burn many copies of the Koran on of all days, 9/11/2010. How many copies seems to depend on how many gullible people send them to him. That is by far the easier of the questions involved. Based on some earlier actions, Jones seems to think that Islam is evil. I will agree that there are followers of Islam have done some evil things and alas if his plan goes through they will probably do more of those things. ( Gen Petraeus is quite concerned about that.)
I have given a lot of thought about why Jones is doing this. Publicity, notoriety, name recognition ? He has gotten all of those to be sure. But , assuming he is a legitimate Christian minister, which I have no reason to doubt, what is doing for the furtherance of his ministry or for the “image” of Christianity or for that matter his native country. Oh, just a qualifier. He actually has the right to do this but for me it’s one of those “rights” that just because one has it, one does not need to exercise it.
Cannot imagine the potential damage he can carry out, unless by some miracle he chooses to call a halt to the event. At this point, that looks unlikely.
Some words from a song came to mind today that at least from a Christian perspective define my feelings quite well. The artist is Wayne Watson and the song came from his 1988 album The Fine Line. The title is “That’s Not Jesus.” I will just relate a line or two that seems to fit what is happening with pastor Terry Jones.
- That’s not Jesus, he doesn’t carry on that way,
- Just some flesh and blood like you and me
- Somehow gone astray
- That’s not Jesus, no matter what they say
- He doesn’t need us to defend him
- He just wants us to obey
Shalom and amen
Related Articles :
- Petraeus: Quran Burning Threatens Troops, Afghan Effort (israelnationalnews.com)
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