By George F. Will
Today, as it has been for a century, American politics is an argument between two Princetonians — James Madison, class of 1771, and Woodrow Wilson, class of 1879. Madison was the most profound thinker among the Founders. Wilson, avatar of “progressivism,” was the first President critical of the nation’s founding. Barack Obama’s Wilsonian agenda reflects its namesake’s rejection of limited government.
Lack of “a limiting principle” is the essence of progressivism, according to William Voegeli, contributing editor of the Claremont Review of Books, in his new book “Never Enough: America’s Limitless Welfare State.” The Founders, he writes, believed that free government’s purpose, and the threats to it, is found in nature. The threats are desires for untrammeled power, desires which, Madison said, are “sown in the nature of man.” Government’s limited purpose is to protect the exercise of natural rights that pre-exist government, rights that human reason can ascertain in unchanging principles of conduct and that are essential to the pursuit of happiness. Read more
By Michael Barone
An interesting thing about Barack Obama is that he chose, on two occasions, to live in Chicago — even though he didn’t grow up there, had no family ties there, never went to school there.
It was a curious choice. Chicago has a civic culture all its own and one that is particularly insular. Family ties and personal connections are hugely important. Professionals who have lived and worked there for a quarter-century are brusquely reminded, “You’re not from here.”
Nonetheless, Obama moved upward in the Chicago civic firmament with apparent ease. The community organizer joined the Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s church in search of street cred in the heavily black South Side. The adjunct law teacher made friends around the University of Chicago from libertarian academics to radical organizer William Ayers. The young state senator designed a new district that included the Loop and the rich folk on the Near North Side.
Obama could not have risen so far so fast without a profound understanding of the Chicago Way. And he has brought the Chicago Way to the White House. Read more