Saturday, June 16, 2018

Jeffrey Rosen - William Howard Taft - (Book Review)

Never thought much about Taft, but according to this biography, he was a President worth thinking about.  A man of principles who wanted to be Chief Justice more than President, who was critical of Theodore Roosevelt, a man dedicated to the Constitution and the independence of the judicial system.   Like someone we need today?

Approached the Presidency like a judge rather than a politician.  Made decision according to his understanding of the Constitution.  Did only what he thought he thought the Constitution explicitly allowed him to do.  Led to his breach with TR.  P. 2-3

Unfortunately there was always talk about his girth.  P. 12

Weight down by the time he died in 1930.  P. 13

His greatest legacy: to promote thoughtful public deliberation and to protect the rule of law.  P. 14

Only POTUS to approach the office in Constitutional terms above all.  P. 15

Born and reared in a political family in Ohio.  His father was a judge.  P. 18

Taft was a Unitarian.  P. 19

Cincinnati law school.  P. 21

Good work in the Philippines though he was condescending toward the locals.

Always looking to the Supreme Court.

TR's Sec. of War.

More about dieting.  P. 40

Nellie Taft always wanted her husband to be President.  P. 41

In 1908 Taft and TR were the closest of allies.  P. 43

Good comparison of the views of Bryan and Taft.  P.  44-45

Taft beat Bryan 51 to 43 in 1908.  P. 46

11-3-08 Taft elected president.  P. 49

TR threatened the Constitution with executive fiat which Taft sought to repair.  P. 51

Taft tried to put TR's policies on sound legal footing.  P. 54

Taft had lots of corporate lawyers in his cabinet.  P. 55

Conducted himself in office like a judge.  P. 56

Taft thought the President should recommend but not push laws thru Congress.  P. 57

History of US taxation.  P. 58

Thought the Constitution prohibited him from Congressional deliberations.  P. 60

Used his devotion to the Constitution and party unity to avoid pushing his legislative agenda.  P. 60

Tariff politics.  P. 63

More devoted to party loyalty than presidential leadership.  P. 64

Government by party.  P. 67

A shockingly restrained conception of the presidency.  P. 68

Putting TR's policies on a sound legal footing led to a political firestorm.  P. 70

Trump is no Taft.

Taft protected more public land than TR.  P. 71

Took a Constitutional rather than a political view of public issues.  P. 71

TR's "New Nationalism."  P. 80

Taft surpassed TR on conservation, tariff reform, and antitrust prosecutions.  P. 81

Prosecuting US Steel was the coup de grace in his relationship with TR.  P. 82

Focused on "malicious intent" in his big trust prosecutions.  P. 82

Always concerned with the integrity of the judicial system.  P. 84

TR inflamed over Taft filing against US Steel.  P. 85

Credit for putting Constitutional principles above party.  P. 87

Impossible to be a strict party man and serve the country impartially.  P. 88

For Taft the 1912 election was a crusade to defend the Constitution and the rule of law against pure democracy.  P. 94

Trump attacks of judicial independence.  P. 95

Disturbed by his break from TR.  P. 96

Taft won the 1912 Republican nomination fair and square with the rules then in place.  P. 98

Good comparison to Taft, TR, and Wilson on taming the trusts and protecting the middle class.  P. 99-100

Still fighting over the tariff in 1912.  P. 101

Henry Adams.  P. 104

Against populism.  P. 108

Quoting Madison.  P. 109

Nominated and confirmed Chief Justice on the same day: 6/30/21.  P.  112

His dream job.  P. 113

Created the independent judicial system we have today.  P. 113

Like a chief executive of the Supreme Court.  P. 115

Taft ran a cohesive court.  P. 118

Did he go too far in achieving unanimity?  P. 118

A Hamilton nationalist.  P. 121

What would George Will say?

A balanced appraisal of his record.  P. 130

Passed more reform legislation than TR.  P. 130

Worshipped the law.  P. 132

Working within the law to resist populist pressures.  P. 132

Taft's world seems so far away in time.  P. 137

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