Woodrow Wilson as World Saviour

David Mitchell describes the postwar peace-making efforts employed by Woodrow Wilson in 1919.

Writing in 1932, H.L. Mencken described the majority of American Presidential candidates as ‘refugees from the sewers’:but he was almost more contemptuous of politicians with social consciences. If one had to make the choice, he felt it was preferable to be cheated by a common thief than rolled by a self-styled saviour.

Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal rhetoric reminded Mencken only too vividly of ‘Archangel’ Wilson with his so-called ‘New Freedom’ and his resounding failure to ‘Make the World Safe for Democracy’. Almost certainly he was thinking of Wilson when he defined an idealist as ‘one who, on noticing that a rose smells better than a cabbage, concludes that it will also make better soup’.

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