Remembering Woodrow Wilson: Now With Visceralness!

Little Professor wilson-man-of-the-hour.jpg

Presidential Memorializing continues spinning backwards in time, with the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library the latest fatuous exercise.

Wilson was born in Staunton Virginia, but his parents left town when he was four. From these slender roots the town has metastasized a Presidential Library, now to receive federal funding.

The Library represents double or triple dipping for Wilson. The Wilson Center was created four decades ago as a “living memorial” to Wilson. South of Washington lies a Wilson Bridge. wilson-bridge.jpg It’s opening happened to fall during his centennial year, so he got the slot, despite having no known ties to the region or river.

Staunton needs the money, ’cause they got nothing. He spent more of his childhood elsewhere, his papers are elsewhere [“The archives microfilm collection includes the Wilson holdings at the Library of Congress and the National Archives. “]

What’s the answer? Showmanship!

Rather than a timeline of facts and dates, the museum aims to turn history into a visceral experience.

wilson-page-black-people.jpg The magic begins on their web page, where a lovely photo of black children is adorned with a lofty Wilson quote. His real feelings about black people were rather different, as reflected in his plug for “Birth of a Nation”. wilson-b-of-nation-graphic.jpg

Prettier Past Presidents

Telling Tales wilson-steering-clear.jpg


Having done his part to continue the Clinton era celebration of Harry Truman’s muscular liberalism, Peter Beinart is casting his eyes back further, to the glories of Wilsonian foreign policy.

It’s somehow to be different from George W. Bush Wilsonism. wilson-paperweight.jpg

Beinart presents a highly selective version of Wilson, what he might call “coherent.” It’s heavy on Wilson’s doomed world vision for after that messy war he joined. Wilson without tears – no unhappy interventions in Russia, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Nicaragua [inherited], no teaching the Mexicans to elect good men.

It’s gonna be great.

“McCain’s singular focus may be more easily grasped; Obama’s broader catalogue could end up sounding less like a vision than a list. Collective security offers a way of linking these disparate concerns and telling a coherent story about today’s problems and how to solve them…In 1916, Woodrow Wilson talked of “a common order, a common justice and a common peace.” In the 2007 Foreign Affairs article in which he set out his foreign policy views, Barack Obama wrote about “common threats,” “common security,” and a “common humanity.” America’s fate and the world’s fate, both men were trying to say, are ultimately indivisible. We rise together or fall together. Never has the world so badly needed to hear these words from an American president, and never have the American people been so prepared to embrace them. Wilson’s dream has been too long deferred. The time to revive it is now.”

Top Ten Presidential Holiday Gifts



Christmas is a special season at the White House. Won’t you join the search for America’s best Presidential gifts?






Most Wonderful Time!














For only $150.00 you can get this handsome Baccarat paperweight. It features Woodrow Wilson looking for all the world like the President-For-Life of a former Soviet republic.





Often mocked, never bettered, the Nixon birthplace birdhouse. A classic at $45.00




Vice Presidents before Dick Cheney often felt slighted and ignored, and were forced to find themselves something to do. In tribute to those dark days, the United States Vice Presidential Museum offers this Dan Quayle shot glass. $3.77.


lincoln-nightlight.jpg He may belong now to the ages, but he can still help tuck you in at night. The Lincoln Nightlight, $27.50.


reagan-first-lady-pill-box.jpg A sly dig at Betty Ford’s addictions? On offer for $24.95 in the Reagan Library’s “Nancy Reagan’s favorites” gift section, the First Lady Purse Pill Box. It can be a headache to be first lady. This silver pill box helps you find the right remedy ever-so-elegantly


davis-confederate-christmamas.jpg Because repeating “um, you lost,” won’t silence Confederate apologists, $12.00 gets you ten Christmas cards and envelopes with this touching Christmas scene of the Jeff Davis family from the “Confederate White House.”


harding-wide.jpg An undistinguished presidency yields endearingly odd sports apparel from Bridgeport Connecticut’s Warren Harding High School. $21.99 or multiple variations at similar prices.



nixon-2doll.JPG For $40.00, a talking Nixon doll with some explaining to do.


taft-patch-no-nickname.jpg “No Nickname”? Because “America’s Fattest President” couldn’t fit on a patch? Yours for only $4.27.

bush-pillow.jpg You’ll accept no substitute for victory over sleeplessness with this 18″ square Commander in Chief throw pillow! President Bush has never looked so butch, and you’ll never feel more comfortable. For $18.99 you can take your pillow with you on trips like El Jefe does!


Holding Action Until President Colbert?

“Woodrow Wilson’s former home, located at 1705 Hampton Street enjoys the dual distinction of being the only house his parents ever owned and South Carolina’s only presidential site.”

Wilson lived in South Carolina for four years, and his home’s owners plan to spend two million dollars restoring the home.

colbert-flag.jpgMeanwhile South Carolina native Stephen Colbert continues to tease the nation with coy answers to self-generated questions about a presidential run. After putting off Jon Stewart on Tuesday’s Daily Show [“Hold on, mount rush me,”] he announced on his own show. Sort of – got to sell books.

China Hand Jobs

hayes-china.jpg“In his inaugural address of March 5, 1877, President Hayes attempted to reassure the nation that change was necessary. He called for “not merely a united North or a united South, but a united country.”3 The Hayes service translated this message to the president’s official table, with the nation united – if only symbolically – through polychrome representations of the diverse flora and fauna from the north, south, east, and west.4 Pictured is an Ice Cream Plate.”

No doubt presidential tableware communicates some message at the time and to posterity. It also demonstrates the limits of house museums, presidential or other. The Woodrow Wilson House [still Washington D.C.’s only “Presidential Museum”!] is opening yet another exhibit of White House china from various administrations.

What lessons do we learn? That plates can unite the [white] nation! Rutherford Hayes err, “complex” service was all about bring some of us together to forget the recent unpleasantness.

“The United States of the 1870s was experiencing vast immigration from Europe as well as continuing growing pains through western expansion. Added to these was the very potent aftermath of the Civil War; Hayes’s 1876 victory was secured through his promise to remove Federal troops from the South, bringing the Civil War to a full close twelve years after its text book ending.”

The Wilsonists claim “…most Americans think that museums and historic sites are the most trustworthy sources for exploring the past,” but many Americans might find the statement above a rather bloodless description of the end of reconstruction and acceleration of black disenfranchisement.