tv QA Patricia O Toole CSPAN June 3, 2018 11:00pm-12:01am EDT
♪ >> next, "q&a," with patricia o'toole talking about her latest book on woodrow wilson. >> this week on "q&a," biographer patricia o'toole discusses her book "the moralist: woodrow wilson and the world he made." brian: patricia o'toole, your book about woodrow wilson, the review in the new york times leads with a paragraph, "instead of the moralist, woodrow wilson and the world he made, patricia o'toole could have titled her book the hypocrite." what was your reaction? patricia: i thought it was a bit harsh.
my book is critical of wilson, but for me anyway, i end with a lot of admiration for him. the help caucus he is a lot of it, that's what happens when you set yourself up as a moral kind of leader and when you depart from that, your open to charges of hypocrisy could she ran with that but i think it is a harsher take than mine. brian: how did he set himself up as a moralist? patricia: he used the word moral and morals all the time in public rhetoric. this was quite striking to me, at the time he became president of united states, it was proud
of itself for finally being the richest nation in the world and most americans were thinking on those terms. he thought the greatness of america was not in wealth but what he called its moral force, whh he saws rior formocracy, of government because it rested on the consent of the governed and the united states was the world's most successful democracy and we were there for a superior nation and democracy is a fundamentally moral idea. brian: when he ran in 1912 and took over in 1913, what was going on in the united states and the world? patricia: in the united states, a growing in patients with plutocrats, kind of like the attacks we hear on the 1% right now. he came in with a reform agenda and managed to get it through
quickly, created the federal trade commission, federal reserve board, and an antitrust law. that scope of important legislation was unprecedented, no president had done it in such a quick amount of time before, and only fdr and lbj surpassed him. people felt the deck was stacked people felt the deck was stacked against them and he said some of that straight. brian: he had to run against the president and a former president, theodore roosevelt and taft? would he have won if it was one against one? patricia: i think so. taftof people voted against
people who voted for roosevelt were voting for progressive ideals that were similar to wilson. even iwilson received only one out of four of the progressive votes, he would have been elected and beaten taft. brian: why woodrow wilson? patricia: i did a book about theodore roosevelt after he was president, there is a lot of world war i in it and i got fascinated about world war i. to write about wilson in world war i was a natural sequel. brian: the other books you read about woodrow wilson for research, what were they? patricia: i started with a major one, written by a person who knew him, a famous journalist of his time. he admires woodrow wilson almost unflaggingly. he's not entirely uncritical, but it is full of anecdotes of people around at the time. i have read just about all of the books of john milton cooper. his wilson biography came out a few years into my work on this book. 2009. i started back in 2006. i think his judgment is very
sound on just about everything. he is a wonderful biographer, a wonderful historian, a wonderful political historian and diplomatic histo. i would do my take and then i would look and see what john cooper said about it. we are not always on the same page but i admire his scholarship. brian: what about berg? patricia: i read that, i think it was 2013. the atmospheric, you cannot eat that book for atmospherics. it paints a wonderful picture of the man in his time. he chose to focus on the
religious side of wilson, he thinks wilson is the most religious president. for me, that was a bit too narrow a view. i partpany oth wh m, th i whale oa booko read for anyone who wants an introduction to wilson. brian: when did you find yourself becoming critical of wilson? patricia: i had read a lot of history of this time while working on the roosevelt book, and wilson, growing up i had always admired his internationalism, i was born in 1946. the u.n. was chartered just before that and my parents thought there was going to be peace in the world for all time. internationalism was a big influence in my young education. when you get closer to wilson, i chose to focus on his morality because i thought that was central to his character and i
don't think of myself so much as a student of the presidency as a student of character. if you are going to set yourself up as a moral leader, it is colicated. as many people know now, in the last years there has been a discussion of his racism, and st at princeton where he was the president a long time, want his name removed them various things at princeton and i think they got their way on some of the things. it was over his segregation of the civil service, which have been integrated for quite some time with the blacks and whites working harmoniously. that is a very touchy subject in our time. it was not touching at the time he did this except among -- blacks objected, of course, and northern white progressives who had supported wilson were unhappy. he felt he had to do it to get southern votes for economic reform. because southerners understood the economic reform would expand federal authority and they saw as an incursion on states rights
and segregationist laws. this wheeal they were willing to make. the most interesting to me, whenever wilson would discuss this with people in his office, he could not think of a solution to it. i think he knew he did not have the moral high ground on this issue. it actually made him sick. he was a person who internalized
a a lot of stress from being a president and he fell ill at crucial moments. a this is an issue, the first time there was a big showdown at his office, he went to bed for a his office, he went to bed for days. because he could not think how to solve the problem. a couple of years later, he met with a group of black leaders and told them, he did not think you could legislate changes in social attitudes. we have heard that many times since. he said he thought the situation in the south would not change until southern politicians needed black votes. that was quite prophetic.
if night until we get lbj and the civil rights act we begin to see major change. brian: i have to tell you what i wrote down at the top when i started reading your book. how often did he take to his bed because of tension? it seems like i read it so often in here. give us some other examples where he would go to bed for days. patricia: it would be announced the president had the flu. there were other -- i should have done a count, i did not do a count. when he was in a very serious situation, it was a common response. it doesn't happen every time. curiously, in the summer of 1915, right after the lusitania was sunk, he was madly in love with the woman who would become his second wife, and they were terrible things happening, american neutrality, people are wondering how long can we keep
this up in the face of these submarine attacks, and he is fine because he is swept up in love. it is not that he is not paying attention to what is happening in the world. it depends also on what is going on. the hardest decision he ever had to make was to take the united states into the war. often he made big decisions alone in his study. he liked to think things through, and he had a lot of criticism for not being very collaborative or seeking a lot of advice. in the situation, he had a lot of people comes to him, and most of them left accounts of their visit with him, so you get a close-up picture of their visit with him. he was stressed but very cool and deliberate. after he made the decision, he
did not fall apart. brian: you brought up some video of malcolm gladwell, he made this speech and 2016 and it reflects what you just said. [video clip] >> john have a book on the post-world war i peace process and he had a riff on wilson, he evicerates him. that he was bumbling. that is another reason to not call your school after him. he was terrible at international affairs. brian: is he right? patricia: i don't think so. wilson is justly criticized for his performance at the paris peace conference. he was not able to get the
french and british to back off some harsh demands. in a few ways, he was. they were all for -- europeans wanted to try the kaiser and have a big trial wilson thought that would make a martyr of the kaiser and it would be something for germans to rally around. i'm not sure that john turned out to be right. he is also critical of the lloyd george, even more than wilson in that book. he referred to wilson as something like he was the baoozled presbyterian, and it was impossible to un-bamboozle him. one of wilson's great flaws in international affairs and dealing with republicans, he was not a good negotiator. he diknegotiation. he thought that a leader should figure out the right thing to
do, the moral thing that would also serve the american people's more material interest in to fight for it. he thought if you negotiated, you would compromise and what you ended up with would be less good than the pure version he came up on his own after looking at things from different angles. i never could find that he understood that in a negotiation when you gave something up, you could ask for something in return, that is the basic thing. his second secretary of state
complained about this in his diary, that wilson did not understand the give and take of negotiations. but wilson went to the peace and conference saying he did not want any material things for the united states. what he wanted was the league of nations, he wanted world order to be based on an international organization of governments committed to peace, and not on the old great power alliances, if one country attacks another country in the alliance, everybody is immediately at war. that's what happened at the beginning of world war i. a worldwide conflagration almost from the start. he thought he had a better idea and that was the thing he went to fight for and he got it. the other things were secondary. i've read about the discussions between the big four. he does not fare as badly in the discussions as he fares in the hands of critics. he is knowledgeable and in there trying, but they are saying no to him all the time. he does not propose any
bargains. like, how about if you give up this, you can afford to say yes to this over here? ly in a couple of cases was he able to broker that. brian: let's catch up for those who have not paid attention to woodrow wilson. he was born where, how long did he live there, where did he moved to and what did he do in his life before he became president? patricia: he is a son of the south, born in stanton, virginia in 1856. when he was about to, his family
moved to augusta, georgia and then they moved to columbia, south carolina and then his a father took a post in wilmington, north carolina. at age 19, he went to princeton. that was his first time to live in the north. it certainly did not take all of the southern out of him by any means but it made a nationalist out of him. nationalist in those days meant somebody who was not re-fighting the civil war. he thought is over and we need to unify the country. he became an academic, taught at princeton, bryn-mawr and wesleyan. he felt he had to resign eventually from princeton. while he was thinking what to do next, he had a career on the side of his princeton activities as a writer and public lecturer. he was very popular, the greatest speaker of his time. he was a progressive. he was a progressive. so the democrats looking ahead, this is 1910 when they asked him to run for governor, looking ahead to 1912, they are thinking, we can get him in as governor and if he does a good
job, he will be a strong, clean-cut, progressive candidate in 1912. brian: how long was he governor of new jersey? patricia: one term. brian: how can he be called a progressive after his opinion toward african americans? patricia: he was a big free trader. at that time, the government raised most of its revenue through protective tariffs. that raise revenue and made a handful of people really rich. by modernizing the economy and getting rid of the protective tariff into switching revenue from the tariff to income tax, that leveled the playing field considerably, at least for white males.
he was not so hot on women's issues, gender -- he was very slow to support a constitutional amendment for women's suffrage. he believed that should happen state-by-state, and it was happening. i believe in 1912, there were 12 states where women voted. but it was happening very slowly. it wasn't until 1918 that he became a supporter of a constitutional amendment and by then he up in the president for six years. very slow on that one. the racism, i think the most important thing to understand about it is that it is not just african-americans. it is the japanese who were living in california, a lot of anti-asian prejudice on the west coast. i think of this as his first international crisis. the california legislature wants to pass a law to prevent
japanese farmers from owning land. they had learned to farm in very small spaces and work really good at making the land productive and it irritated the other farmers in california. this law was very prejudicial against the japanese, it comes up, and wilson sent his first secretary of state out to california to deal with this. it gets resolved in terms of states rights, the state of california has the right to do this under our constitution. it caused a huge uproar in japan. people wanted japan to go to war against the united states over this indignity. and the japanese prejudice comes up again at the paris peace conference, and the japanese wanted to introduce a clause affirming racial equality in the league of nations covenant and wilson will not hear of it.
the europeans did not want it either because of their colonies. there were a lot of interventions in central america and the caribbean. those are always against governments that are not run by whites. it is a pervasive mindset with him. brian: on the personal side, how often was he married and what were the circumstances? patricia: he got married when he was young. he got engaged about the time he was starting graduate school. he was 26 at the time, gets married a couple of years later. he was married 31 years to ellen wilson, another southerner. they were very happy. will she got a fatal disease and died. it was one of the most touching moment of his life. world war i was just beginning in august of 1914 and there is a scene where he is at her bedside, and with one hand holding her hand and in the
other drafting a note to the belligerence and the war offering his services as a mediator. that is quite a lot to handle in one moment. his second wife, edith galt was a widow who was 16 years younger than he was. she lived in washington and they met in the spring of 1916, not quite a year after the first mrs. wilson died, and they got married at the end of 1915. brian: one of the things that interest me in your book was mary peck hobert. you say you found 200 letters. patricia: i did not found them, they had been collected by others over the years. brian: who was she?
patricia: she was a divorcee. when he first met her, she was in the process of a separation from a guy who owned textile mills in new england. they met in bermuda, where she went for the winter, and when wilson was president of princeton, he took a winter vacation as well as a summer vacation, and the family liked bermuda. so they went to bermuda, he went mostly by himself and he met her there. she was quite a bit more interesting to talk to than the first mrs. wilson. she had a larger range of interests in the world. she also had the gift of making men feel like they were 10 feet tall, you know? i think he was attracted to that. i think every biographer wants
to be the one who discovers that this is a full-fledged romantic affair. i could not prove that, to my own satisfaction. i think it was an infatuation. he liked her as a confidant after his after his wife dies, he is writing about his grief. there never was a move -- you would think she would be his go to person after his wife dies and he is thinking about another relationship, but there have been so many rumors about a real romance between them that the people around him would not apparently, according to mrs. peck, would not hear of any kind of liaison. brian: are her letters all in
one place? patricia: i think they are mostly at princeton. if you want to read them, they are in the papers of woodrow wilson, a 69 volume thing edited byrieton university press. it is hard to find unless you can go to a big research library, but they are all there. bria are they altogether? patricia: they are not all together, they are in chronological order. brian: from your experience, has anybody used the letters as much as you did? patricia: that is a good question and i don't know the answer. they certainly do not get ignored. i was interested in them for what they showed us, not about the relationship between him and her, but that was the place where he could pour out his grief in writing. he felt safe. brian: you havea footnote in the back, it is complicated.
according to matthew, watson spoke with mary in 1923. when did wilson die? patricia: 1923. brian: after he was shown the correspondence between her and wilson, which they tried unsuccessfully to publish, bragdon did not use them but preserved them in his interview files. what could they not get published? patricia: people were scared of it. they invoked the principal of the letters of someone are the property of that person. that has stood in the way of other attempts to do this.
it was a famous aspect of the biography of salinger. someone wanted to publish the letters, this guy had collected them from hither and yon. it was very soon after wilson had died. i don'kn how many publishers she showed it to. i believe harper and brothers was one of them, but it was turned down. it was thought not dignified. even other was nothing inflammatory. brian: have you thought about putting out a little book of them? patricia: someone could probably do that, princeton could do that. that is probably t logical person to do it. brian: let me read some of this and you can explain it. he wrote to one of his friends, mary peck. sometimes my whole life seems to be rooted in dreams. i do not want the root of it to dry up. what is he getting out there? patricia: i think he is looking bah fondness to his childhood. he may include his princeton days, which were important to
him and unfurling. he was very shy all hilife, and he managed to be folded into a circle of friends in princeton and ey were only friend he had his whole life, very important to him. he felt challenged in a very good way by princeton. he got to be in the oratory and debate societies and he did very well at those things. that was quite a happy time for him. as a boy, there is a huge psychological literature about wilson, and i have read it, but i have the sense that it just reduced him to oedipal tangles that i did not feel like i could deal with on the strength of my own knowledge of the theory. some people have said his stubbornness in later life was a reaction to his father's
strictness, and they can point to a story where his father made him revise a little thing he wrote a bunch of times. the divisions are that wilson resented this but he was a good boy and put up with it. you read every mention in his letters of his father, they are worshipful. he never had an unkind word about his father. a presbyterian minister. brian: this is a letter to mary. just between you and me, i have not the least idea of the nominated because the outcome is in the hands of the professional case hardened politicians who serve only their own interests and know i will not serve them except as i might serve the party in general. i am well and in the best of spirits.
i have no deep stakes involved in this game. do you believe that? patricia: no, i don't. i think he was trying to talk himself and feeling that way so that if you lost he would still feel all right about it. i think he wanted to win. brian: he was governor of new jersey, but how did he even get to the point where they were thinking of nominating him? patricia: he was one of -- he did not do very well, primaries were a big deal for the first time in the election of 1912 and he did not do very well. they were going to favorite sons in the region. he still hung in there after that, and he had a couple of very good handlers at the convention. his chief competitor by the time the convention opens is this
bigger of the house, and he came to the convention with more pre-decided delegate votes than wilson, but his handlers went to the delegations and is said who is your second choice if the voting goes in a different direction? wilson was everyone's second choice, so they just worked that a young worked that -- and worked that and worked that until they could get past the other option. brian: more from mary, when she was granted a divorce, the new york tribune put the news on the front page and identified her as "a friend of governor and mrs. woodrow wilson." patricia: yes. the front page treatment is interesting, right? because it is kind of like alluding to the rumors without saying it. but she was a friend of both of
them. she had been invited by both of them to visit. the governor had a summer place at the shore in new jersey and she had visited them there on a couple of occasions. brian: he is a democrat, and you "at the end of septber, he learned republicans were whispering about his relationship with mary, and the account he sent her might be the most panicked and jumbled letter he ever wrote. at one passage, he seemed to choke on his thoughts -- 'this might be an attempt to set gossip afloat, if nothing more, which would no matter how completely discredited later, abundantly suffice to ruin me utterly and all connected with me.'" patricia: yes, and he minded because the gossip was unfounded as far as we know. there was no sexual relationship between them or romance. brian: why did people push on
that at the time? patricia: they pushed on it pretty hard and theodore roosevelt deserves credit for blowing it away. someone taught him the news that the rumor had come up, and roosevelt burst out laughing because he thought of wilson as very premise and prudish. he said something like, the idea of this man who looks like an apothecary clerk as a romeo is ridiculous. he was made aware of this because people in his campaign wanted him to take the rumor and run with it. he would not do it. brian: by the way, after she ends up divorcing again, and you write that he helps her financially when she had no money. patricia: they made a transaction. she owned a couple of mortgages that produced income and she wanted to have the cash value of those assets rather than the
income from them, so he bought them from her. i think it was a transaction for $15,000. brian: let's look at the atmosphere in 1913. this is short. during the inauguration when he took the president. i just want to show the video. [video clip] >> the nation's newspapers gave wideere to his battle against graft and corruption. wilson was nominated by the democratic presidential commission in 1912 and easily defeated a split republican ticket, the year that teddy roosevelt divided the republican vote by organizing the bull moose party. [[end video clip] brian: so, in that election, did he campaign nationwide? patricia: not really nationwide. i think he went as far west as illinois, maybe.
he did not travel in the south, because he assumed, the democrats were the biggest party by far, he assumed he would win. he had vited the west before during his governorship so he was kind of introducing himself to the people that way. i think he made 70 campaign speeches altogether. i think he did not understand why he had to do that. why he had to keep saying the same thing over and over again. i think something like 100,000 people heard him's the where he was, basically in the northeast. brian: you mentioned about the newspaper covering him, and we can move on to the war and the creation of the committee run by george creel. what was that? patricia: the committee on public information?
brian: yes. how friendly was woodrow wilson toward the media and those days? patricia: he had a spiky lationship with them. he was often misquoted and that bothered him a lot. i think everyone was, but other people had a thicker skin about it or were willing to work more closely with reporters. there is a volume of papers of woodrow wilson given over to his press conferences. he is so not forthcoming. there was an incident where american troops landed in mexico and there were casualties, and there was a press conference and someone said, are we at war? his answer was, i don't know, are we? it was that kind of thing. he was very tightlipped and not good at it. he was not good at the give-and-take of a press conference. he was better in a one-on-one interview. he would've done very well with you. [laughter] brian: when did he say he wanted to make the world safe for democracy the first time?
patricia: in his 14-point speech in january 1918. no, i have that wrong. it was in his war message in april of 1970. make thet say, we must world safe for democracy, he said "the world must be made safe for democracy." brian: i know you spent a lot of time studying world war i. what started it? patricia: arms race, hyper nationalism and great power alliances, as we talked about before. if one country went in, the other side had to and before you knew it, the entire world was aflame. not unconnected to
commercial rivalries. wilson would say of lack of democracy, as well. the german empire run by an autocrat. the russian empire, he was very happy when the czar was kicked out in november 1917 and had high hopes for becoming a democracy in russia. there were all the states in the habsburg empire that will always at war. wanting to betes liberated. so, he wanted to give them their wish and have more of the world be able to elect their own leaders. brian: when did the american people -- he won in 1912 and again in 1916. the war started -- patricia: april 1917.
2.5 years before, in august 1914. brian: when he ran in 1916, what did he tell the american people and what did they think of the future of america and of the war? patricia: the campaign slogan was he kept us out of war. that was not his idea, but someone said at the democratic convention and it got a by his campaign people and repeated. he worried it would backfire, that he would not be able to keep the country out of war. he said something like any german submarine can upset our peace at any moment by making an attack on a ship or the united states in some way. when the war breaks out, he takes the country into war because he feels he has no choice anymore. germany is not keeping its
promises not to be aggressive. also, the submarine attacks on british shipping in the spring of 1917 suggests britain is about to lose. if britain is knocked out of the war, then france cannot hold out. so he is facing the possibility of a german conquest with europe. the kaiser has expressed a wish to convert the world. so, wilson feels he has to go to war. if the americans had not gotten into the war, what would've happened in your opinion? patricia: i think germany would have conquered europe and there would have been a second world war to undo that. it would not have been started by hitler, but by france and england. i don't know what a provocation would've been, but i don't know how they could have lived with that.
brian: how many americans fought? patricia: on the ground in france, 2 million americans and 2 million more in training camps. the war ended faster than anyone thought it would. the joke wast callhe american expeditionary force, and the buttons on the uniform said aef, and the british would say that means after everything is finished. and they yank supposedly said, no, it is after england failed. so the united states is very but the arrival of 2 million man just as the spring citing -- fighting is beginning. it was in year before they were really fighting but they were there in force in the spring of 1919, when all of the offensive onehe war except the first began. they stopped fighting basically in the winter.
finally, there was just enough manpower to beat back the germans all the way to germany. brian: when did it end and how long was it before the 2 million men, mostly men i assume, came back to the united states? patricia: the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month, november 11, 1818. the troops thought they would come home immediately, but the french insisted on an occupation of germany for some time. wilson committed to that, but he was drawing down troops very quickly. i do not know when the last of them came home. probably they were mostly all home by the end of 1919. brian: there were a series of presidents over the left several years that have talked about wilson when they give speeches, and his legacy. here is fdr speaking right as the war started, the second
world war, before december, april of 1941. [begin video clip] [applause] >> when this quiet, presbyterian man first saw the light of day, one whose active life was dedicated to the cause of freedom, the conquest of fear and the liberation of the eternal spirit of man from every thralldom imposed by fear. in this valley of virginia, it will remind america that his ideals of freedom were wide enough to support democracy in all the world. brian: that was actually may 4, down in stanton, where they have the presidential library.
what is your reaction? patricia: i had never seen that before. i know he made that visit. if i ever read his speech, i have forgotten it. but he was a committed internationalist, fdr. it is also important to know about him, while wilson was president, fdr was the assistant secretary of the navy the whole time. he is watching president wilson closely and thinking about his own political future, taking note of what is working and what is not. in early 1942, he gathers together some advisors and starts thinking about a successor to the league of nations. the league of nations basically went out of business after world war ii began, or it had never been willing to enforce the terms of collective security. brian: we were never country
involved -- >> right. in, the europeans, they just could not believe a second world war would come, because the first one had been so horrible. so, he you know, we watched the british, the notion of appeasement. just give him learn one more thing. one more thing and he will quit because we cannot have another world war. well, fdr was a committed internationalist and some people thought he threw out everything wilson did and started over in designing the u.n. i look at its the u.n. was wilson 2.0. that fdr took what he felt was workable and saved it. there is a lot of language in the u.n. charter that come straight from the league of nations covenant in terms of aspirations for peace in the world.
but then he also realize, and he had a lot of help thinking this not.gh which wilson did wilson basically went into think it through amazon. it was his baby. and, someone in fdr's circle thought the league of nations had been asked to shoulder too many responsibilities, and if you had a new international organization, there should be other international organizations to take up some of these things. so they founded organizations alongside, things like the international monetary fund and the world bank. some of these are global organizations and some were regional. nato comes out of this. nato did not happen right away but it happened very soon after the war. so that is the order we have been living with ever since. brian: here is lyndon johnson in 1966, and this mention of wilson. [video clip] >> the exercise of power in this ustury has meant for all of
in the united states not air against, but agony. power noted our willingly and recklessly, ever. reluctantly and with restraint. [end video] brian: do you agree with that? patricia: no. as i was watching that, i was wondering what lbj was speaking about vietnam. brian: it was right in the middle of it. patricia: it sounds a good justification of vietnam, we did this because we had to do it. as we look back on it now, all of the things, all of the lies we were told and what was actually going on, it does not look like that was the case. brian: that was the dedication of the woodrow wilson school of
public international affairs. students write about pulling the name of it? patricia: that turned out to be the trickiest thing because it was the biggest mention of wilson, the school of international public affairs. his idea of having a world organization, and organization of world governments committed to peace and collaboration, that was a revolutionary idea. the fact that it did not work the first time and that it is still very hard, it is hard for the u.n. to get things right, people have a lot of complaints, but i think we are better off for having it then not. wilson's notion of internationalism, that it has to have a big place in the world, we see that with climate change. climate change is going to happen whether we are in the accord or not. you can withdraw from the accord
but not from climate change. he was right in thinking the fate of the world is of interest to every nation in the world. brian: here is richard nixon talking about wilson in 1969. [video clip] >> 50 yehis aragry desk, president woodrow wilson spoke words which caught the imagination of a war weary world. he said, this is the war to end hidream for peace after world war i was shattered on the hard realities of great power politics. died aodrow wilson broken man. tonight, i do not tell you the war in vietnam is the war to end wars, i say this. i have initiated a plan that will end this war, and a way to bring us closer to the great goal that woodrow wilson and
every american president in our history has been dedicated, the goal of a just and lasting patricia: two footnotes, wilson did not make that speech in the oval office and that desk was not wilson's desk. brian: the resolute desk was not? patricia: no. the desk business was pointed out to him before the speech but heent ahead anyway. so, that is kind of interesting. nixon, he was an internationalist but in a more limited way. he wanted international things to be related to american interests much more. wilson might have come to that if he had lived longer and was in power longer, he might have wanted to amend american internationalism more.
i am not sure, experience might have led him in direction. nixon thought that wilson had the right idea but he had overreached. actually, a lot of presidents after nixon had the same idea. a friend of mine who worked in the clinton administration told me they refrain from calling themselves liberal internationalist, which is what wilsonian ideal cap had become. before and after vietnam, this idea of nationalism gets more contained. grandlyas very
ambitious. he said the united states could not be a great nation and was its of duty and mission penetrated to the hearts of every nation and the world. that is a really sweeping kind of statement, that you as a nation are going to be on the same wavelength and really thinking about what is best for every nation in the world. brian: you say in your book, and this will go by very fast, it is george w. bush. put this in the context. [veolip] >> the liberty we prize is not america's gift to the world, is god's gift to humanity. [applause] video clip] patricia: wilson never would have said that. wilson was a religious man but he never tried to impose his religious beliefs on the united states and that is george w. bush using god to trump the founding fathers, and i don't
think wilson would've done that. brian: if you saw wilson during his eight years as president, would he ever talk about god? patricia: he did it in a way a of god bless america way, and god willing. but that was it. religion to him, it reminds me of jimmy carter's faith. it is a source of comfort and really difficult circumstances, just kind of an anchor. like a personal thing, not a political thing. brian: when did you stop teaching at columbia? patricia: two years ago. i taught in the school of the arts, i taught nonfiction. brian: why did you quit? patricia: that is a long story. illness, it was
very strange. four completely unrelated things requiring surgery in six months. there was a lot of lying around and think about the rest of life. it started when i was 68. i came to teaching late, and i had always liked writing more than teaching. i enjoyed teaching but the thing i really liked to do was write. my doctors were very optimistic but i thght, what if they are wrong? how do i want to spend the rest of my days? i decided i wanted to spend them just writing and not the combination of writing and teaching. brian: where did you go? patricia: i moved from new york city to maine. i have friends up there and i love it. brian: you have another book you are working on? patricia: noing on but i'm thinking of some things. brian: give us an idea? patricia: one of them is in the
1880-1920, which seems to be my sweet spot. it involves theodore roosevelt, an aspect no one has wrote about before. that's all i can say about that. at the moment. brian: you quote lloyd george, prime minister of great britain, as saying this about woodrow wilson, "the extraordinary mixture of real greatness thwarted by much littleness." fair? patricia: i think it is fair. he could get hung up on little things. lloyd george liked him. there are various reports of his conversation during the peace conference. he complained about him sometimes, wilson would get on his high horse and deliver what lloyd george called sermonettes,
and lloyd george did not like being lectured in that way. they did not think of themselves as immoral leaders. they cared about the world is much as he did. brian: here is a quote from your book, wilson had listened to lloyd george's plea and said, you make me sick. what was that about? patricia: that was -- brian: there was another explanation for wilson's stiffness. you make me sick. did he talk this way to other leaders? patricia: no, and i cannot remember why he was so angry in the moment. it could have been there was a big crisis over italy, which had joined the war. neutral and then i joined the war with the
expectation of getting quite a lot of territory on the other side. that was a huge crisis and it might have been they were fighting about that. i am sorry i can't remember. brian: this is what book for you? patricia: five. brian: which of the others sold the best? patricia: probably the roosevelt book. "when trumpets call." brian: our guest has been patricia o'toole, the book is called "woodrow wilson and the world he made, the moralist." thank you for joining us. patricia: thank you. ♪ [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2018] announcer: for free transcripts or to give us your comments about this program, visit us at q&a.org. programs are also available as c-span podcasts.
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