Why Wilson matters

September 16th, 2013
Last week President Obama, in addressing the issue of Syria, talked about America's unique role in the world.  Russian President Putin would go on to criticize the idea of American exceptionalism.  The fact is that Obama's commitment to and Putin's criticism of America's place in the world, has its roots in the ideas of our 28th President, Woodrow Wilson.  Inaugurated 100 years ago. 

In urging Congress to enter WWI, Wilson talked about the need to make the world "safe for democracy."  In so doing, he perhaps inadvertently laid the predicate for the next century of US foreign policy and an idealism that often went beyond America's direct national interests.

He would come to define the modern activist Presidency, and would lay the groundwork for a broader role for the federal government.

He did it all coming to office with a minimum of political experience, accusations of elitism, racism and a disregard for civil liberties.  Still, he ranks as one of our great Presidents. The how and why of this is embedded in A. Scott Berg's sweeping biography Wilson, thirteen years in the making.

A Scott Berg is a best selling biographer, a winner of the NationalBook Award and the Pulitzer Prize.

My conversation with Scott Berg: