President Woodrow Wilson Essay

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Diseases need heroes: men or women who have triumphed despite the disease. For the child with polio, one could always point to Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who campaigned on leg braces to become governor of New York and then president of the United States. For epilepsy, there is always Joan of Arc or Napoleon. The blind and deaf have Helen Keller. Woodrow Wilson provides a similarly inspiring story for both dyslexia and stroke victims--but the story of his last two years in office provides a troubling example of how brain damage can affect judgment and even block insight into one's own disabilities.

Wilson had dyslexia in childhood. Imagine not learning your letters until age 9, not reading until age 12, being a slow reader all your life.
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While the right arm weakness went away, Wilson had enough damage to his left eye that he could never read with it again. Some think that his judgment was impaired in the following years--his attempts to reform Princeton academia were often impractical. By 1910 he was essentially being forced out of his presidency by the trustees.

But no matter--in 1910 Wilson was elected the governor of New Jersey. Being a university president is not the usual route to such an office (from being a zoology professor at the University of Washington, Dixie Lee Ray went on to become governor--but her stepping stones were positions as Nixon's chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission and Assistant Secretary of State, not the presidency of the university!). From the governorship, Wilson began his successful campaign for president of the United States. He won the Democratic nomination after a protracted contest, on the forty-sixth ballot.

During the campaign in 1912, Governor Wilson again suffered from mild and temporary neurological problems (now called Transient Ischemic Attacks, or TIAs, they are minor strokes without detectable lasting effects). And, a month after his inauguration, President Wilson had an episode where his left arm and hand were weak. All of the previous right-sided troubles had implicated the left side of the brain. Now it appeared that the right brain was also being damaged by cerebral vascular

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