Progressives Are Nothing But a State of Mind; Roosevelt's History Lesson

Theodore Roosevelt has some old letters to share, The New York Times doesn't think the Progressives amount to much, and Woodrow Wilson doesn't pay attention to size. 

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Theodore Roosevelt has some old letters to share, The New York Times doesn't think the Progressives amount to much, and Woodrow Wilson doesn't pay attention to size. (An introduction to our The 1912 Project.)

Roosevelt's History Lesson The biggest get in political journalism right now is a statement of some sort from Theodore Roosevelt declaring himself a candidate. Even though he's being touted as the leading contender to win the Republican nomination from President Taft, the man himself is saying as little as possible about his intentions. Yesterday, he hosted a gaggle of reporters at the Manhattan offices of The Outlook — the opinion journal where he's been working as an associate editor since he left office in 1909 -- and fended off their queries by reading them long passages of Abraham Lincoln's writing. It's kind of a game of code in which the reporters transcribed as much as they could and then sifted for meaning later. As The New York Times reports in today's paper, "It was a sort of class in political history that the Colonel had framed up for his inquisitors, the newspaper reporters, when they besieged him yesterday. When it was all over no one seemed to be any wider regarding the Colonel's plans. He neither said he was willing nor unwilling to be a candidate, but he left the impression that he regarded all the suggestions that he make an announcement of his position at this time as coming from his enemies."

The dominant lesson the reporters seemed to take away from the session is that Roosevelt feared his coverage in the press if he announced too early. One letter from Lincoln, written when he was a presidential candidate, complained, "I have had men to deal with, both North and South. Men who are eager for something new upon which to base misrepresentations; men who would like to frighten me, or at least to fix upon the character of timidity and cowardice. They would seize upon almost any letter I should write as being 'an awful coming down.'" To make sure the message got across, after finishing the passage, Roosevelt provided some analysis.

Two Parties Now, Two Parties Forever Meanwhile, on the editorial page of The New York Times, they give an overview of the preisdential field under the headline "SEASONABLE CONFUSION." Sure, they begin, "an observer who from a mountain top should survey the field of our politics might well conclude that both parties are headed straight for destruction, that nobody can be elected this fall, and that the Presidency must accordingly lapse unless Mr. Taft be permitted as a 'holdover' President." But don't worry, they reassure. Nothing will change in 1912.

In particular, they're unimpressed with the so-called Progressives.

So, there you have it from The New York Times: Nothing to see here this election year. President Taft has nothing to worry about.

It's Not the Size of the Corporation, It's What You Do with It Meanwhile, Woodrow Wilson, who The Times opined is currently the leading Democrat, "but the new beliefs which he has substituted for the convictions of a lifetime are a good deal too radical for those Democrats of the East, and of the West, too," spent last night addressing the Lehigh Democratic club of Allentown, Penn. The account that ran in Connecticut's Meriden Morning Record did not make him sound like a populist firebrand. The paper reports, "Born a Democrat, declared Mr. Wilson, he is a convinced Democrat with a firm adherence to the postulates of Democracy. The Republicans, he said, would have this country governed by trustees not by the people, but only for the people to which he absolutely dissents." The report ended with some quotes from Wilson:

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