Defending the Founders

Obama’s Living Declaration

Featured image I think it would be a serious mistake to ignore or fail to attend closely to President Obama’s second inaugural address. It speaks to his ambition, his assault on the founding principles, and his attempt to realign the electorate on a misreading or misinterpretation or misrepresentation of the meaning of the founding principles. Attention must be paid. See, e.g., Yuval Levin’s “Obama’s second inaugural.” As R.J. Pestritto has demonstrated, the »

O, Fortuna

Featured image In the post-election “Now What?” edition of National Review just out today, I have an article suggesting that the durable features of the Constitution, however attenuated by a century of “progressivism,” should caution us from overdoing our pessimism.  The whole article is behind a subscriber firewall, but here’s the lede: Conservatives are natural pessimists, based on a realism about fallible human nature that fuels our opposition to the coercive utopianism »

Mid-Week Book Notes

Featured image While we await the Ryan-Biden smackdown tonight, a few notes from the bookpile.  Harry Jaffa has a new collection just out: Crisis of the Strauss Divided: Essays on Leo Strauss and Straussianism, East and West (Rowman & Littlefield).  It contains several essays written at the height of some of the disputes about Strauss in the 1980s, and some earlier material, such as Jaffa’s essay on the occasion of Strauss’s death »

The Godfather of Liberalism

Featured image Our friends at the Heritage Foundation have launched a new educational initiative, Makers of American Political Thought, featuring short essays on key figures and ideas in American politics.  (There will be an essay in this series from me a ways down the road, about a certain modern president.)  The first essay in the series came out last week—Hillsdale’s R.J. Pestritto on Woodrow Wilson: Godfather of Liberalism. Pestritto is the author »

The eternal meaning of Independence Day, part 2

Featured image President Calvin Coolidge celebrated the 150th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1926, with a speech providing a magisterial review of the history and thought underlying the Declaration. His speech on the occasion deserves to be read and studied in its entirety. The following paragraph, however, is particularly relevant to the challenge that confronts us in the variants of the progressive dogma that pass themselves off today »

McConnell at the bridge

Featured image Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has long been a supporter of the First Amendment rights of citizens in the face of what goes under the name of campaign finance reform. He knows what he is talking about and he has been a stalwart on the subject. Tomorrow he will be giving a major address at the American Enterprise Institute on “Growing Threats to the First Amendment” at 11:15 a.m. (Eastern). »

Beefcake Watch: Alexander Hamilton, Hunk?

Featured image Well, since we cover the fairer sex here (by the way, John, where is your review of the recently concluded Miss USA pageant?), equity demands that we cover the beefcake beat, too.  And appearing right now on Bloomberg/Business Week is an article making the case that Alexander Hamilton was more than just a canny banker and political thinker.  He was a chick magnet, too.  There’s even a FaceBook group called »

CRB: Restoring the Constitution

Featured image It must be Spring, because the Spring issue of the Claremont Review of Books (subscribe here for the absurdly low price of $19.95) has just been published and is available online to subscribers. It is an incredibly rich issue. The CRB is the flagship publication of our friends at the Claremont Institute. The mission of the institute — “to restore the principles of the American Founding to their rightful, preeminent »

Papers? We Don’t Need No Stinking [Federalist] Papers!

Featured image One of my most contentious contentions is that if you want to learn about the Constitution, taking constitutional law at a law school is the last place you should do it.  But undergraduate political science and history curricula are hardly better.  Among other things, as Peter Berkowitz observes today in the Wall Street Journal, American higher education neglects what I call the “Owners Manual” of the Constitution—the Federalist Papers: Most »

The Constitution: News You Can Use

Featured image While we wait to see whether and how far the Supreme Court might move toward restoring a more principled constitutionalism with its decision in the Obamacare case, there is good news for readers looking to step up their game on constitutional literacy: The Heritage Foundation has posted its fabulous Heritage Guide to the Constitution online.  The Heritage Guide is a clause-by-clause commentary on our great charter, and it is extremely »

A Saturday Word from Tocqueville

Featured image Not that many people–me included–spend much time reading one of Tocqueville’s other books, The Old Regime and the Revolution, in which he offers this sage observation that is quite apropos the Age of Obama: “A man’s admiration of absolute government is proportionate to the contempt he feels for those around him.” (Hat tip: Scott Walter, Philanthropy Daily.) »

Big PIG News

Featured image Naturally I’ve been doing a lot of talk radio interviews for my Politically Incorrect Guide to the Presidents, but a lot of them are local programs—much of the time I’m not even sure where—so I haven’t been flagging them here.   But I ran into Bill Kristol the other day in the building, and he said, “Gee, I don’t think you’re promoting your book enough on Power Line!”  Problem solved!  Podcasts! »

The Constitution and the President: A Footnote

Featured image A few days back I dilated the point of my PIG book on modern presidents with a meditation on how deficient most presidential candidates, and the campaigns themselves, are on the Constitution, including even Ron Paul, who at least brings up the subject.  My critique of Paul is that his constitutionalism is especially narrow and too literally text-based, i.e., if he doesn’t find something in the clearly enumerated powers of »

What’s Missing in the GOP Debates?

Featured image So we’ve finished the 20th, and one hopes the last, of the GOP candidates’ debates.  With only a few intermittent and wholly inadequate flashes, there has been little substantive reference to or discussion of the Constitution.  I don’t think even once did one of the media morons ask the candidates for their opinion of whether Obamacare’s individual mandate violates the Commerce Clause of the Constitution.  Yes, Ron Paul tries to »

Remembering the indispensable man

Featured image Today is the anniversary of the birth of George Washington. Of all the great men of the revolutionary era to whom we owe our freedom, Washington’s greatness was the rarest and the most needed. At this remove in time, it is also the hardest to comprehend. Take, for example, Washington’s contribution to the Constitutional Convention of 1787. Washington’s mere presence lent the undertaking and its handiwork the legitimacy that resulted »

The Unsolvable Problem of Executive Power

Featured image Since it’s still Presidents Days for a few more hours, it’s worth taking up a challenge from one of our good-natured liberal commenters, an old pal from high school (are you paying attention, Eric?), who posted a comment on an earlier PIG book post of mine raising the question of the constitutional issues raised in the Iran-Contra scandal.  Glad you asked.  In fact, the Politically Incorrect Guide to the Presidents »

A salute to Mike DeWine

Featured image Bradley Smith is the Josiah H. Blackmore II/Shirley M. Nault Designated Professor of Law at Capital University Law School in Columbus and one of the country’s foremost experts on the evils of campaign finance laws. He is the author of Unfree Speech: The Folly of Campaign Finance Reform. It was his distinguished opposition to campaign finance laws that got him appointed to a six-year term on the Federal Election Commission »