February 13 is the official publication date of my Politically Incorrect Guide [hence PIG] to the Presidents, From Wilson to Obama, but Amazon has already started shipping. Early adopters started getting their copies yesterday. So order today and you can get the jump on your neighbors.
I’ll roll out some excerpts and highlights from the book closer to the official launch date, but for today I’ll pass along one of the central arguments of the book, namely, that most modern books about the presidency ignore the Constitution, and the president’s oath to defend the Constitution, entirely. Some leading college textbooks about the presidency don’t even have an index entry for “Constitution.” And so the book concludes thus:
Obama represents the nadir of the modern presidency, and the perfect successor in many ways to Woodrow Wilson—the modern president most responsible for changing our conception and practices of the presidency. Restoring the nation and the presidency after Obama is not simply a matter of picking a candidate with better policy views, but having a reinvigorated debate about the proper constitutional limits on the federal government. Such a president will defend the Constitution by deliberately restoring the limits on centralized government power than the Founders intended, rather than subverting it by breaking down its few remaining limits.
Obama may have unintentionally done the nation a great favor by reviving public interest in the Constitution and its specific clauses spelling out the “few and defined” powers, as James Madison put it, of the federal government. This is what the Tea Party movement is largely about.
The election of 1912, when the parties splintered and a short-lived Progressive Party facilitated the election of Woodrow Wilson, marked the beginning of a new chapter in American political thought and practice. The election of 2012 could mark the end of this chapter and the return to an older, sounder constitutional order, if a majority of American voters take to heart the wisdom of the Founders.