Woodrow Wilson and Hillary Clinton: When a President Keeps an Infirmity Hidden from the Public

Joseph Patrick Tumulty is a name that every American should know; and yet so few do. He may have helped run the country for the last two years of Woodrow Wilson's Administration. This is what a Hillary Clinton presidency portends.

Joseph Tumulty was born in New Jersey in 1879.  His parents were middle class ethnic Irish, and he became a lawyer, and later a state representative.  However, Tumulty was an accomplished wheeler-dealer, and Woodrow Wilson called upon his services when he started his political climb from Princeton University academic to Governor of New Jersey and then President. Tumulty was Wilson's private secretary, a position that would morph in time to become the White House Chief of Staff,  though in 1913, it bore a more humble title.

Wilson was a sturdy WASP, from a Southern Confederate background; yet he needed Tumulty, the ethnic Irish-American from the urban northeast to navigate his way through machine politics if he were to win a Democratic presidency.

Joseph Patrick Tumulty was secretary to President Woodrow Wilson, and no man since his time has ever held a comparable position of influence. Mr. Tumulty had no corps of "administrative assistants" such as supplied nowadays at the White House. He handled all press relations himself. He was not a member of the cabinet but had more influence than all of them combined. - Toledo Blade - 1954 (upon Tumulty's death)

As anyone knows, such a man can become a gatekeeper, and often becomes the power behind the throne.

Nor was Tumulty unscarred in his ascent.  Tumulty was opposed to Wilson's second marriage to Edith Bolling Galt, another Southerner, in 1915, a year after Wilson''s first wife's death; and Edith took it personally. She wanted Tumulty removed. On top of that, there was a vicious strain of anti-Catholicism sweeping the country at that time; and Wilson, a dour Presbyterian, was susceptible to it. He was pressured to ditch Tumulty. 

Tumulty appealed to Wilson for a reciprocation of the loyalty that he had shown to Wilson when Wilson was a nobody in politics.  Wilson kept him.

When Wilson had his stroke in 1919, it was Tumulty and Edith who kept the news under wraps with the connivance of Dr. Grayson, the president's physician.

A lot of modern historians like to credit Mrs. Wilson with running the country.  She did claim to have scrutinized all bills that came before the president, deciding what was worth passing on to him. And it does sound so gloriously feminist that a woman was in charge.  But the fact is that she was not equipped for the job. Though her father was a lawyer, Edith did not have much of a formal education beyond finishing school.  Historians say she cut Tumulty off from presidential access, but he was too involved for that to be fully plausible.

It must have been Tumulty, the lawyer and statehouse power broker, who guided Edith through the political process, answering questions such as “What does this legal phrase mean?” and “How would this bill fare in light of the Constitution?” He could warn, “ Don't waste your time passing this one to the President as I know the Congress, and this does not stand a chance.” This sort of advice must have aggravated her no end, as she despised Tumulty.  But she was dependent on him.

Although Edith did not care for Joe Tumulty, he was a true-blue Wilson loyalist, and she had no compunction about enlisting him as an enabler of the cover-up that she and her co-conspirator, Grayson, were already mounting. - Wilson Quarterly

Tumulty, the one the historians ignore, might have been running the country; but he was a bit of a Wilson sycophant and gave Edith the credit; probably more than she deserved.

When Congress started to ask some embarrassing questions, Edith and Tumulty arranged for Louis Siebold of the New York World to interview the President Wilson. The whole story was a fraud.

In 1921, New York World reporter Louis Seibold won a Pulitzer Prize for an interview he conducted with President Woodrow Wilson. The problem: Wilson was incapacitated due to a stroke, and the interview was faked with the help of the president’s wife and chief of staff. - Politico

Worse yet, Tumulty would sometimes ignore some of Edith's requests concerning the interview. Just who was in charge of the country? Edith or Joseph?

Edith persuaded Siebold to lie about almost every aspect of the president's condition, from his sixty second attention span to his illegible signature, which Siebold praised as “copperplate." Siebold talked about running a footrace with the invalid, whose entire left side remained paralyzed. For a final ironic touch, the newsman won a Pulitzer Prize for this travesty of objective journalism. - History News Network

While loyal to Wilson, Tumulty ignored Wilson's desire for a third term, and worked to have someone else nominated. Tumulty and the Wilsons would have a falling out after Wilson left office. No one quite knows why.  Some say it was the book about the Wilson Era that Tumulty wrote, Woodrow Wilson as I Know Him, which was pretty much a hagiography, and really could not have offered offense.  Others say it was over a miscommunication between Wilson and Tumulty, probably aggravated by Wilson's incoherence. They never spoke for the last two years of Wilson's life.  Tumulty's friends said this seeming betrayal of Tumulty's loyalty contributed to Tumulty's later nervous breakdown.

Now, a few days ago, here on American Thinker, James Lewis opined that Hillary is so sickly that Huma Abedin could end up being acting president.  While an excellent article, Mr. Lewis did not delve into the historical precedent of the Wilson presidency. Nor did he touch upon Joseph Tumulty, a man overlooked by most historians, who generally prefer the romantic vision of a loyal wife rather than admit the equally likely reality that a Northeast urban power broker was helping to run the country.

Nor is the general connivance of the press well known.

But the fact remains, Tumulty and Edith ran the country for 2 years, and the press connived to cover things up. If the same thing happens to Hillary, will it be Huma or Bill running the country?

Mike Konrad is the pen name of an American who is neither Latin, nor Arab. He runs a website, http://latinarabia.com, where he discusses the subculture of Arabs in Latin America. He wishes his Spanish were better.