A conversation with James Ceaser

In the latest of his Conversations, Bill Kristol draws out the eminent political scientist James Ceaser on the philosophy of constitutionalism on which the American experiment is founded as well as the development of American political parties with which it must live. The video is also posted and broken into chapters here; the transcript is posted here. The video continues here with Ceaser’s discussion of his teachers Harvey Mansfield, James Q. Wilson, Walter Berns and Allan Bloom; the transcript includes this continuation.

Caesar is professor of politics at the University of Virginia and the author of several important books including quadrennial evaluations of our presidential elections since 2000 (with Andrew Busch). This is a learned and edifying conversation from which it is highly unlikely that you won’t emerge knowing more, and wanting to know more, as a reward for the time invested.

Quotable quote, on Obama and his adherents: “[The 2008 election] doesn’t speak well for the modern state of the world or democracy. It was a terrifying event to see so much hope put into one person with the obvious understanding that no person, even if Obama were more than he is, could ever have achieved that. 2008 [was] a quasi-religious phenomenon pretending something about the character of our world…What helped a good deal…was the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize immediately, which even his most fervent supporters had to agree was ridiculous. And the realization that that was one of the great absurdities of history, maybe it was the beginning of some notion that this wouldn’t quite work. But it’s proved, I think, a disaster in foreign affairs. There are other things to be said – one can take this explanation a little too far – but since I wrote about it, I wanted to put in a plug for this quasi-religious character in 2008.”

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