Opinion

  • The Breakdown of Politics

    On the 22nd of May, 1856, Representative Preston Brooks of South Carolina entered the old Senate chamber shortly after the Senate concluded its business for the day.  After sitting for a moment in an empty seat on the floor of the chamber, Representative Brooks offered to a member of the Senate staff that he hoped the attractive woman sitting just outside the Senate chamber would leave.  Despite such chivalrous concerns, … Read More

  • Power and Values

    We live in a cynical time. The president of the United States boasts that his pandemic response warrants a grade of A+ in the same week that deaths from the pandemic exceed 200,000 Americans. A GOP-controlled committee of the U.S. Senate released a preliminary report on an investigation into the son of Vice President Joe Biden that tracks with rumors spread by Russian agents the same week that the U.S. … Read More

  • Truth and Panic

    In May of 1940, the German Army nearly won the war in Europe.  After invading the low countries, their forces swung left and engaged a joint British and French army.  As German forces swept across Belgium, Belgian resistance collapsed and its king, Leopold, capitulated.  British and French forces were driven onto a sliver of beach in the small port city of Dunkirk.  On those sands, the remnants of the British ... Read More
  • R.I.P. GOP

    Born of a righteous conviction that no person should be enslaved, the Republican Party died this week, a victim of its leaders’ lust for power and abandonment of the Union which Lincoln fought to save.  At its zenith, the GOP advanced a freedom agenda derived from the ideals of the American experience and the European enlightenment.  A commitment to free labor, free markets, free trade, and free institutions provided the … Read More

  • The Democrats’ “Radical Agenda”

    Like a lot of Americans, I’ve been watching the Democratic convention this week.  On the first night, I was flipping between the three major cable networks just to take stock of how each was covering the proceedings.  When I got to Fox News, I learned that the Democrats were in the midst of unveiling their “radical agenda” to “change America.”  And my first reaction was, “holy cow, did I dose … Read More

  • Stand Up and Be Counted

    On Tuesday, as we learned that former Vice President Joe Biden had selected Senator Kamala Harris as his running mate, I saw a Tweet from Ron Klain, Biden’s former chief of staff.  It was a picture of the moment the vice president asked Senator Harris to join him on the ticket.  The picture is pretty straight forward: the vice president is in profile, holding a smartphone to his computer while … Read More

  • Narratives of Illegitimacy

    American politics are awash with narratives of illegitimacy.  We’re not just questioning the judgment of our rivals, we’re questioning their loyalty, their commitment to the rule of law and the Constitution, as well as their patriotism.  In other words, we’re questioning whether our political opposites are, truly, American.  It’s difficult to imagine a more serious threat to the American experiment. The playbook is familiar at this point.  Republicans—including then-citizen Donald … Read More

  • Why I Laugh

    2020 has been the longest decade of my life.  It’s not even close.  The year that began with presidential impeachment, has, so far, brought us also a pandemic that continues to ravage the United States and the world, massive unemployment, the murder of George Floyd, protests for social justice, and violent confrontations in cities across the United States set against the backdrop of perhaps the most important U.S. election since … Read More

  • Irresponsible or Tyrannical?

    Every week, I try to share some insights from history, from my scholarship, or from my experience working in Washington.  I am mindful that it would be easy to look at my resume and dismiss me as a partisan.  And so I try to be careful about the language I use and the points I make.  The truth is that I’m actually a passionate moderate—if that’s not an oxymoron—who is … Read More

  • A Matter of Trust

    In what would have been a shocking twist in any other administration, over the weekend, journalists began reporting that the White House was circulating talking points questioning the judgment and credibility of Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.  President Trump, himself, told Fox News that Fauci, who had increasingly distanced himself publicly from the pandemic characterizations and recommendations of the president, “is … Read More