Defending the Founders

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 »

Celebrating the First George W.

Featured image People interested in a thoughtful observance of George Washington’s birthday Presidents Day next Monday might want to drop in (or tune in to the live webcast) AEI’s panel this Friday from noon to 1:30 (eastern) on the subject of “First Among Equals: George Washington and the American Presidency,” which will feature a reading of Washington’s Farewell Address from Leon Kass, and commentary from Richard Brookhiser, Diana Schaub, Harvey Mansfield, and »

Pub Day for Founders and PIGs

Featured image By sheer coincidence, today is the official publication date for my Politically Incorrect Guide to the Presidents, From Wilson to Obama, and Larry P. Arnn’s The Founders’ Key: The Divine and Natural Connection Between the Declaration and the Constitution and What We Risk by Losing It, which fits since we were in graduate school together and tormented each other at the Claremont Institute back in the 1980s.  The two books »

Flying PIG, The Video

Featured image My PIG book isn’t officially out until Monday, but the Washington Times put out a favorable notice this week: Though the title might suggest a volume laden with slapdash doses of angry, ill-considered snark, Mr. Hayward has produced a lucid book that is scholarly but not pedantic; acerbic in its criticisms, but never coarse. Meanwhile, my peeps here at AEI have done this short (49-second) video promo for the book: Now off »

Liberals and the Constitution

Featured image Liberals typically erupt in outrage if you suggest they don’t respect or understand the Constitution, let alone defend it.  But then they let slip that in fact they really don’t respect or understand the Constitution, and would replace it in a heartbeat if they thought they could get away with it.  Think of Ezra Klein remarking a couple years back on how the Constitution is too hard to understand because, »

Deconstructing Romney: Maybe Mitt Should Get a PIG?

Featured image Okay, so as we saw with Romney’s off-the-cuff disaster about not being concerned about poor people last week, he’s not exactly another Great Communicator.   But if he wins, maybe he could do America and the presidency a service by shutting up.  From The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Presidents: There are two main reasons for the development of the presidency as we know it today. The first is that the »

What would Plato do?

Featured image It wasn’t enought for President Obama to claim the endorsement of Judaism, Christianity and Islam for his policies of class warfare in his National Prayer Breakfast speech this past week. Obama also cited Plato as stating a version of the Golden Rule supporting his policies. Where’d he get that Idea? Apparently from a statement made by Socrates in The Republic, but no version of the Golden Rule lends support to »

PIGs Flying! (Off the Shelf, That Is)

Featured image 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 »

Newt for SCOTUS?

Featured image One of Newt Gingrich’s unique talents is his ability to make a sensible or serious argument in an extreme way that raises everyone’s hackles.  I suspect he originally developed this trait on purpose, as a way of drawing the sharpest possible contrast with liberalism, which served his grand strategy well in his insurgent days in the House in the 1980s and 1990s.  Think of it as the conservative version of »

Eurocrash Update #1

Featured image So in Friday’s commentary on the Euro Zone crisis I observed that if the 27 members of the EU couldn’t abide by the precise terms of the EU Treaty, they would find a way to go around it, and mentioned James Madison’s discussion of the “delicate” problem of changing compacts with less than the unanimous consent required by the terms of the compact (in 1787, the Articles of Confederation; in »

1980: Sowell vs. Piven

Featured image Equality is the great theme of American politics, but is equality rightly understood as equality of rights or results? Equality of rights is deeply rooted in the foundational documents of the United States. It is, you might say, the American way. Equality of results is the great error that continues to exert its powerful attractions. In the Federalist Papers, Publius recognizes “the diversity in the faculties of men, from which »