Discourses

Let’s face it.  State of the Union speeches are neither generally noteworthy nor much remembered.  Nothing of value would be lost if presidents reverted to the pre-Woodrow Wilson practice of submitting SOTU messages in writing only.  But that  isn’t going to happen.  Thanks to television and presidential vanity, the SOTU message has become an over-hyped political version of a dull variety show with too many commercials that goes on far too long.  Presidents present themselves as a cross between Santa Claus and an occasionally naggy Mary Poppins, but ere long pretty much everyone forgets all about the event.

All that being said, President Trump knocked it out of the park last night.  He looked and sounded presidential, which for him was something of a novelty.  Let’s hope he likes and sticks with this new persona.  He made the case for restoring American greatness more eloquently than he has ever done before.  That should help him in political battles on important policy issues, as for example his struggle to make our Southern border more secure.  He made the case on that issue last night forcefully, with arguments that can attract support beyond his base.  He needs to take a mini-version of what he said last night on the road, while avoiding his penchant for ad hominem pejoratives.  The question is whether he has the focused discipline to do so.

is a Senior Fellow and faculty member of the Claremont Institute, and professor of government at Claremont Graduate University.

More Thoughts

discourse

Forgetting the Founders: The 2020 Democratic Field

A long line of suitors in the 2020 presidential election is forming, with each would-be-president fighting to interpret the Constitution to fit their political agenda. Bernie Sanders is at it again, attempting to read a universal right to healthcare into the Constitution, while Kamala Harris seeks to alter campaign finance laws “For the People.” No…

discourse

The German Stamp on Wilson’s Administrative Progressivism

Paul Gottfried questions the connection between the American Progressives and German political thought—Hegel’s in particular. I’m not quite sure what he means by the “cottage industry” he attributes to me, but it is the case that this connection is an important piece of arguments made about the Progressives by me, John Marini, and others in…

discourse

How “German” Were the Progressives?

Contrary to James Poulos and Glenn Ellmers writing in The American Mind, I did not produce a “mixed review” of John Marini’s excellent study of the American administrative state. I extolled Marini’s examination of our increasingly unaccountable centralized state and was especially drawn to his focus on Congress’s role in this misfortune. But I part…