Defending the Founders

Charles Kesler speaks

Featured image Last week we celebrated the week of Charles — Charles Kesler, Dengler-Dykema Distinguished Professor of Government at Clarmeont McKenna College, editor of the Claremont Review of Books, long-time friend and tutor — for his receipt of one of this year’s Bradley Prize awards along with Allen Guelzo and Jason Riley. I have posted the video of the event below (it is posted here on Vimeo). Charles is a gentleman, scholar, »

Jonah’s Suicide Hotline, and All That Stuff

Featured image (Dear reader—Fair warning: this is a long post, so best to settle in on the couch and make sure your dogs have completed their morning walks . . .) Okay class, everyone settle in for today’s seminar and get out your textbook, Jonah Goldberg’s Suicide of the West.  Turn to page 316, and circle this sentence: “Indeed, as much as I hold Trump in contempt, I am still compelled to »

Remembering the indispensable man

Featured image Today we celebrate 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 »

It’s Official: Liberals Hate Constitutional Government

Featured image We should be grateful to Ryan Cooper for acknowledging so forthrightly in The Week what has been obvious to conservatives for a long, long time—liberals really really hate the Constitution, because limited government is an impediment to their endless dreams of ruling over us more completely and fixing every human problem: “America’s Constitution is terrible. Let’s throw it out and start over.” Cooper makes five main points, some of which »

CRB: The founders in full

Featured image This morning we resume our preview of the new issue of the Claremont Review of Books. Thanks to our friends at the Claremont Institute, I read the new issue in galley to select three pieces (this week I have five because I have three today) to be submitted for the consideration of Power Line readers. As always, wanting to do right by the magazine and by our readers, I had »

The eternal meaning of Independence Day (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 »

The eternal meaning of Independence Day

Featured image On July 9, 1858, Illinois Senator Stephen Douglas gave a campaign speech to a raucous throng from the balcony of the Tremont Hotel in Chicago. Abraham Lincoln was in the audience as Douglas prepared to speak. Douglas graciously invited Lincoln to join him on the balcony to listen to the speech. In his speech Douglas sounded the themes of the momentous campaign that Lincoln and Douglas waged that summer and »

A Deep Dive Into the Founding

Featured image It was 20 years ago that Thomas G. West, nowadays the Potter professor of politics at Hillsdale College, published Vindicating the Founders: Race, Sex, Class, and Justice in the Origins of America. The book was a tour de force against the left’s relentless attacks on and distortions of the American founding, and it is an indispensable reference book for every one of the left’s clichés about the supposed defects, if »

Books: The Common Sense of the Subject

Featured image Thomas Jefferson’s famous 1825 letter to Richard Henry Lee explained that the Declaration of Independence was intended to express “the common sense of the subject, in terms so plain and firm as to command their assent. . . an expression of the American mind.” Common sense today is increasingly uncommon, especially when it comes to understanding what the Founders meant by “equality.” (Or maybe the left understands exactly what the »

Preview: Varieties of Constitutional Originalism

Featured image Anyone who would like to get a head start on a certain book that is being published next month (and which you can pre-order now, right here!—hint, hint) can find an excerpt in the new issue of National Affairs under the title “Two Kinds of Originalism.”  This is adapted from Chapter 7 of the book, which is sure to sell out (so order early). The complete book chapter is longer »

A Preview of Coming Attractions

Featured image Scott kindly mentioned my forthcoming book, Patriotism Is Not Enough, which will appear in mid-February (though you can pre-order today!). I’m going over the final page proofs right now, and thought I might as well share a couple of previews. The book centers around, but is not confined to, the story of Harry Jaffa and Walter Berns, two of the great thinkers of the late 20th century. I’m one of »

Keep the Gov’t Away from Your Grill (Updated)(Updated Again With Bikini Pic)

Featured image Not sure whether I shared this Remy video back in 2003 when it came out, but it’s worth running again on this July 4, as a healthy reminder to annoy liberals everywhere by grilling your beef rare, drinking domestic beer (from a can—bonus points), waving the flag, and enjoying fireworks. »

Randy Barnett on the Declaration

Featured image Randy Barnett, currently professor of law at Georgetown Law School, is one of the most important constitutionalists today. His latest book, Our Republican Constitution: Securing the Liberty and Sovereignty of We the People, will have a long shelf life as an important treatise on constitutional originalism. Barnett is all the more interesting for having come to his interest in constitutional law indirectly. As he explained in a previous book (Restoring »

Down with “Hamilton”

Featured image Back in April I noted that the liberal culturati were unhappy over the success of the Broadway smash Hamilton, precisely because its multiracial cast and hip-hop format don’t conform to or reinforce the identity politics frame of the Left. Broadway is making a capitalist dead white guy look cool! Horrors! With Hamilton dominating the Tony Awards show last night, the New York Times returned to the theme as if to »

James Madison’s Ultimate Test

Featured image Given the lack of confidence in either of the two major party presidential presumptive nominees, earlier today I tweeted out the following thought-provoker: What prompted this was a passage from another old unpublished lecture of Harry V. Jaffa from 1996 that I happen to have found during recent book research: [Madison] believed that the statesmanship of the wise and the good that went into the architecture of the Constitution would »

Sanders Proves He’s a Democrat After All

Featured image Bernie Sanders’ appearance at Liberty University today made clear that he’s no independent socialist, but in fact a true-blue Democrat of the Stephen Douglas variety. John took note of these remarks already, but they deserves a bit more gilding: And I will also say, that as a nation — the truth is a nation that in many ways was created, and I’m sorry to have to say this from way »

The Jaffa-Berns Feud Revisited

Featured image When Harry Jaffa and Walter Berns died on the same day back in January, I wrote an article for the Wall Street Journal about how despite their bitter feud, they both deserve credit and praise for reviving some essential aspects of the American Founding. Their shared contributions were overshadowed by the rancor of their feud that spilled out from private letters into public forums. “In your present state of mind,” »