Mr. Peter Wehner Senior Fellow

Peter Wehner is an in-residence Senior Fellow at The Trinity Forum, a contributing opinion writer for the New York Times, and a contributing editor for The Atlantic magazine. He has written for numerous other publications—including Time magazine, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington PostFinancial TimesThe Weekly Standard, National Review, Commentary, National Affairs, and Christianity Today. He has also appeared frequently as a commentator on MSNBC, CNN, Fox News, CBS, PBS, and C-SPAN television.

Wehner served in the last three Republican administrations, including as Deputy Director of Speechwriting and later Director of the Office of Strategic Initiatives for President George W. Bush.

Wehner is author of City of Man: Religion and Politics in a New Era (co-authored with Michael J. Gerson) and Wealth and Justice: The Morality of Democratic Capitalism (co-authored with Arthur C. Brooks). His most recent book is The Death of Politics: How to Heal Our Frayed Republic After Trump.

Trinity Forum Appearances and Remarks

Season 2, Episode 19 | “Hope and Healing for a Hurting Culture” a Podcast with Peter Wehner and Jonathan Haidt

February 19th, 2021 | “Hope and Healing for a Hurting Culture” an Online Conversation with Peter Wehner and Jonathan Haidt

March 1st, 2018 | “A Symposium: The Future of Christian Higher Education” an Evening Conversation in Washington, DC with Peter Wehner, Shirley Hoogstra, and Michael Lindsay

March 15th, 2017 | “The Benedict Option” an Evening Conversation in Washington, DC with Peter Wehner, Rod Dreher, and Kirsten Powers

Related Trinity Forum Readings

Politics and the English Language” by George Orwell, featuring an original introduction by Peter Wehner

Courage and Honor in Ukraine

Politics is a stage on which the worst of human nature is often on display. But now and then, here and there, it reflects the best of human nature. And what is happening right now in Ukraine—a nation being mauled by a brutal regime yet still willing to stand and to fight—is proof that honor

Trump Is Obsessed with Being a Loser

Donald Trump has made clear time and time again that, in his view, the worst thing that can happen to a person is to be judged a “loser.” In the 2020 presidential election he was, in fact, a loser, but his narcissism and the incredibly fragile self-esteem that undergirds it won’t allow him to accept

Biden Undermined Faith in Elections

Joe Biden, who ran for president promising to restore trust in American democracy, recently undermined it. It’s not what he was elected to do, and he needs to repair the damage. During his marathon press conference last week, Biden was asked whether the failure of voting-rights legislation in Congress would render this year’s elections illegitimate.

Why It Matters That Support for Israel Among Young Evangelicals Is Falling

Since the founding of the modern state of Israel in 1948, American evangelical Protestants have been among its strongest and most loyal supporters. But support for Israel among younger evangelicals now appears to be declining. That trend is worth watching and understanding, not only because of what it might signal about the future of American

What’s Happening on the Left Is No Excuse for What’s Happening on the Right

American democracy has often confronted hostile forces from outside the United States; rarely has it been under as much of a threat from forces within the nation. The danger arises from illiberalism on the left and the right. Both sides are chipping away at the foundations of the American Republic; each side seems oblivious to

The Gospel of Donald Trump Jr.

Donald Trump Jr. is both intensely unappealing and uninteresting. He combines in his person corruption, ineptitude, and banality. He is perpetually aggrieved; obsessed with trolling the left; a crude, one-dimensional figure who has done a remarkably good job of keeping from public view any redeeming qualities he might have. There’s a case to be made

Why Jesus Never Stopped Asking Questions

Malcolm Muggeridge, the renowned 20th-century social critic and British journalist, was an unlikely convert to Christianity. For most of his life, he was an agnostic; faith for him was “infinitely unattainable.” But attain it he did, late in life, and in 1975 he wrote, “The coming of Jesus into the world is the most stupendous

Philip Yancey’s Message of Grace

On a Sunday in late February 2007, Philip Yancey was driving on a remote highway near Alamosa, Colorado. As he came around an icy curve, his Ford Explorer began to fishtail; the tire slipped off the asphalt and the Explorer tumbled down a hillside. The windows were blown out; skis, boots, luggage, and a laptop computer

The Evangelical Church Is Breaking Apart

The election of the elders of an evangelical church is usually an uncontroversial, even unifying event. But this summer, at an influential megachurch in Northern Virginia, something went badly wrong. A trio of elders didn’t receive 75 percent of the vote, the threshold necessary to be installed. “A small group of people, inside and outside this

Biden’s Long Trail of Betrayals

“I’m getting sick and tired of hearing about morality, our moral obligation,” Joe Biden said in 1975. “There’s a point where you are incapable of meeting moral obligations that exist worldwide.” At the time, he was arguing against U.S. aid to Cambodia. But he could just as easily have said the same about his decision this year

You’re Being Manipulated

America is in the grips of an epistemic crisis—an assault on reality, a rising inability to distinguish fact from fiction, an effort to shut down free inquiry—that poses an existential threat to liberal democracy. Which is why Jonathan Rauch’s new book, The Constitution of Knowledge: A Defense of Truth, is so timely and so essential. It

Will Christian America Withstand the Pull of QAnon?

The scandals, jagged-edged judgmentalism and culture war mentality that have enveloped significant parts of American Christendom over the last several years, including the nation’s largest Protestant denomination, the Southern Baptist Convention, have conditioned many of us to expect the worst. Which is why the annual meeting of the convention this week was such a pleasant

Can Religion Be a Healing Force in Society?

Below is the text of the keynote address EPPC Senior Fellow Peter Wehner delivered on June 15 at the 2021 Religious Freedom Annual Review, hosted by the International Center for Law and Religious Study at the J. Reuben Clark Law School at Brigham Young University. Where We Are as a Society The theme of this

The Scandal Rocking the Evangelical World

“This is an earthquake,” a prominent Christian writer told me. The publication of an extraordinary February 24, 2020, letter by Russell Moore, one of the most influential and respected evangelicals in America (and a friend), has shaken the Christian world. When the letter was written, Moore was the president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, the

An Interview with Dr. Francis Collins

As Francis Collins, the director of the National Institutes of Health, recounted the moment, his eyes welled with tears. A few months before, he and his colleague Anthony Fauci had confided in each other their hopes for a COVID-19 vaccine. The FDA had set the threshold for approval at 50 percent efficacy, roughly what the flu

Trump Is Marching Down the Road to Political Violence

At the beginning of last week, former President Donald Trump referred to the 2020 election as the “greatest Election Fraud in the history of our Country.” By the end of the week, he had issued a statement saying, “As our Country is being destroyed, both inside and out, the Presidential Election of 2020 will go down as THE CRIME OF

In Liz Cheney vs. Donald Trump, Guess Who Won

I asked a Republican who spent time with Representative Liz Cheney last week what her thinking was in speaking out so forcefully, so unyieldingly, against Donald Trump’s lie that the 2020 election was rigged and stolen, despite knowing that this might cost the three-term congresswoman her political career. “It’s pretty simple,” this person, who requested

The Battle Cry for a Post-Trump GOP

The most intriguing and perplexing political issue confronting the United States right now is the current state and future of the Republican Party. It has changed as dramatically and as quickly as perhaps any previous major party in American history. It is fundamentally different in political philosophy, tone and temperament than it was only a

The GOP Is a Grave Threat to American Democracy

The hope of many conservative critics of Donald Trump was that soon after his defeat, and especially in the aftermath of the January 6 insurrection, the Republican Party would snap back into its former shape. The Trump presidency would end up being no more than an ugly parenthesis. The GOP would distance itself from Trump

Why Is Jesus Still Wounded After His Resurrection?

As a person of the Christian faith, I’ve long understood what the Apostle Peter meant when he said, “By his wounds you have been healed.” But I have always wondered why Jesus, after his Resurrection, in his glorified body, still bore the visible marks of his wounds. After all, scars are signs of imperfection, a defacement, something

The Man Who Refused to Bow

Adam Kinzinger is a liberated individual—liberated from his party leadership, liberated from the fear of being beaten in a primary, liberated to speak his mind. The 43-year-old representative was one of 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Donald Trump for inciting the attack on the U.S. Capitol. “I don’t have a constitutional duty to defend

If Republicans Don’t Disown Trump, He Will Continue to Own Them

Five years ago, during a campaign rally in Iowa, Donald Trump famously said, “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters.” What no one knew at the time, but what the just-concluded impeachment trial showed in vivid and at times sickening detail, is that Mr. Trump

The Moral Inversion of the Republican Party

In the original Star Trek series, there was an episode in which M-5, a revolutionary computer created by Dr. Richard Daystrom, is designed to handle all ship functions without human assistance. It’s thought to be an impressive achievement—until M-5 takes total control over the USS Enterprise and begins to attack other Federation ships. Captain Kirk tells Daystrom to disengage

The End of Trump Can Be the Beginning of America

This is a text I received from a prominent conservative Christian minutes after President Biden’s Inaugural Address: “I broke down sobbing. It’s been a long five-and-a-half years.” Shortly after that, Scott Dudley, senior pastor at Bellevue Presbyterian Church in Bellevue, Wash., emailed me a note that said, “I never thought I would be moved to

Christians as a Cultural Minority (Again)

These remarks are adapted from a December 6, 2020 presentation to a McLean Presbyterian Church Adult Education Class, “A Christian Approach to Politics.” The relationship between the culture and politics is complex and subtle, so it’s worth saying something about each, starting with culture. Culture involves far more than what we traditionally think of as

Many Republicans Own This Insurrection

The scene that unfolded at the U.S. Capitol yesterday—an insurrection in all of its ugliness, all of its violence, and all of its kaleidoscopic horror—is the responsibility of Donald Trump. But it doesn’t stop there. It is also the responsibility of countless of his aides and supporters, those in right-wing media and Trump’s evangelical backers,

Some Republicans Have Finally Found a Line They Won’t Cross

“So look. All I want to do is this. I just want to find 11,780 votes, ” Donald Trump told Brad Raffensperger, Georgia’s Republican secretary of state, during an astonishing hour-long conversation on Saturday. It was the latest gambit in the president’s effort to overturn the free and fair election in that state, which President-elect Joe

Cowards are Destroying the GOP

Those hoping for a quick snapback to sanity for the Republican Party once Donald Trump is no longer president should temper those hopes. The latest piece of evidence to suggest the enduring power of Trumpian unreality is yesterday’s announcement by Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri that he will object next week when Congress convenes to

The Forgotten Radicalism of Jesus Christ

“Get used to different.” That line comes from a marvelous new TV series on Jesus’ life, “The Chosen,” in which Jesus, played by Jonathan Roumie, invites Matthew to become one of his disciples. Simon Peter, already a disciple, registers his fierce objection. Matthew is a tax collector, who were viewed as tools of Roman authorities, often

Trump Is Losing His Mind

Donald Trump’s descent into madness continues. The latest manifestation of this is a report in The New York Times that the president is weighing appointing the conspiracy theorist Sidney Powell, who for a time worked on his legal team, to be special counsel to investigate imaginary claims of voter fraud. As if that were not enough, we also learned

Trump’s Most Malicious Legacy

“We are entering into an epistemological crisis,” Barack Obama recently told my colleague Jeffrey Goldberg. The crisis didn’t begin with the Trump presidency, but it rapidly accelerated over the course of its term—and the situation has, if anything, grown worse in the aftermath of the presidential election. According to one poll, 70 percent of Republicans say they

Choose Repair, Not Revenge

In the aftermath of the electoral defeat of Donald Trump, who has inflicted so much gratuitous harm on the United States—including making unfounded accusations of election fraud and declaring himself the victor, a malicious lie that is undermining the integrity of American democracy—there is an understandable temptation among those on the winning side to seek

Trump Lives in a Hall of Mirrors and He’s Got Plenty of Company

If Donald Trump loses his re-election bid, there will be a lot of ruin to sort through. But his most damaging and enduring legacy may well turn out to be the promiscuous use of conspiracy theories that have defined both the man and his presidency. The president’s cruelest policies, like intentionally separating children from their parents at

Biden May Be Just the Person America Needs

In the entire history of American presidential campaigns, there may never have been a wider gap in empathy than between Donald Trump and Joe Biden. And it has rarely mattered more. Empathy is the quality of putting yourself in the place of another, understanding how they are experiencing the world, identifying with their feelings, and being

Evangelicals Made a Bad Bargain With Trump

In public, Donald Trump has spoken in glowing terms about his evangelical supporters, calling them “warriors on the frontiers defending American freedom,” people who are “incredible” and “faithful,” a bulwark against assorted moral evils. But behind the scenes, as The Atlantic’s McKay Coppins recently reported, “many of Trump’s comments about religion are marked by cynicism

Now Comes the Reckoning

“Truth will come to light,” Launcelot Gobbo tells his father in The Merchant of Venice. “At the length truth will out.” For Donald Trump, this past week is when, for all except his most beguiled and gullible supporters, the truth willed itself out. At the start of the week, the ground on which the president’s most

How to Win a Debate With a Bully

“I’m used to bullies.” That’s a line Joe Biden has used several times during his run against Donald Trump, and he said it again recently in talking about the first presidential debate. “I hope I don’t take the bait, because he’s going to say awful things about me, my family, et cetera,” Biden said at a virtual

Does the Debt Matter?

Since the earliest days of the American republic, political leaders have been concerned about the threat posed by large deficits and mounting federal debt. In a 1790 letter to Henry Lee, James Madison wrote that “as far as this object will permit I go on the principle that a Public Debt is a Public curse

Why Trump Supporters Can’t Admit Who He Really Is

To understand the corruption, chaos, and general insanity that is continuing to engulf the Trump campaign and much of the Republican Party right now, it helps to understand the predicate embraced by many Trump supporters: If Joseph R. Biden Jr. wins the presidency, America dies. During last week’s Republican National Convention, speaker after speaker insisted

Conservatives Have Only One Choice in 2020

“You’re a traitor to the cause.” In one form or another, that’s the charge most often made against so-called Never Trumpers, a group of which I consider myself an early and unofficial co-founder. The well-being of both the Republican Party and conservatism, according to this line of thinking, requires supporting Donald Trump. To be against him is to

Donald Trump Is a Broken Man

The most revealing answer from Donald Trump’s interview with Fox News Channel’s Chris Wallace came in response not to the toughest question posed by Wallace, but to the easiest. At the conclusion of the interview, Wallace asked Trump how he will regard his years as president. “I think I was very unfairly treated,” Trump responded. “From before I

The Cost of the Evangelical Betrayal

The closest thing social conservatives and evangelical supporters of President Donald Trump had to a conversation stopper, when pressed about their support for a president who is so manifestly corrupt, cruel, mendacious, and psychologically unwell, was a simple phrase: “But Gorsuch.” Those two words were shorthand for their belief that their reverential devotion to Trump

We Can Find Common Ground on Gay Rights and Religious Liberty

Last week’s Supreme Court ruling extending employment-discrimination protections to L.G.B.T. Americans — in a 6-to-3 decision, with a conservative justice writing the majority opinion and another conservative, the chief justice, joining it — was a milestone. Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia overjoyed many progressives and L.G.B.T. advocates, who will redouble their push for the Equality Act, a bill that passed the

Listening to Robert F. Kennedy

Fifty-two years ago last Saturday, Robert Kennedy was assassinated at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, after being declared the winner of the California presidential primary. He was 42 years old. I was too young to remember his death, but over the years I have become something of a Bobby Kennedy devotee. That might seem strange

Trump Has Made Alternative Facts a Way of Life

No president in the history of our Republic has been as disorienting as Donald Trump. His goal, even before he became president, was far more ambitious than to tell mere lies. It was to annihilate the distinction between truth and falsity, to make sure that we no longer share facts in common, to overwhelm people

The Malignant Cruelty of Donald Trump

“I’m asking you to intervene in this instance because the President of the United States has taken something that does not belong to him—the memory of my dead wife—and perverted it for perceived political gain.” There may be a more damning thing that’s been said about an American president, but none immediately comes to mind.

Jonathan Haidt Is Trying to Heal America’s Divisions

Over the past decade, no one has added more to my understanding of how we think about, discuss, and debate politics and religion than Jonathan Haidt. I first connected with Haidt in 2012, after I wrote a blog post for Commentary based on an interview in which Haidt discussed his book The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion. “It’s

Evangelicals: A Review

At the National Prayer Breakfast earlier this year, the keynote speech was given by Arthur Brooks, formerly the president of the American Enterprise Institute and now a professor at Harvard. Brooks’s speech was titled “Love Your Enemies,” which is based on the words of Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew: “You have heard that it

The President Is Unraveling

In case there was any doubt, the past dozen days have proved we’re at the point in his presidency where Donald Trump has become his own caricature, a figure impossible to parody, a man whose words and actions are indistinguishable from an Alec Baldwin skit on Saturday Night Live. President Trump’s pièce de résistance came during

The Party of the Aggrieved

The day after announcing guidelines the nation’s governors can use to carry out an orderly reopening of their states, which are in the grip of a pandemic, President Donald Trump—through his weapon of choice, Twitter—openly encouraged protests against the social-distancing restrictions that have saved tens of thousands of American lives. As The New York Times reported, in so doing, the president appeared

‘I Feel Like I’m Handing Out Life Jackets of Hope in a Sea of Despair.’

Churches are usually packed this week, the holiest on the Christian calendar. But this year, with very few exceptions, they are empty. And not just in America. In Jerusalem’s Old City, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, a major pilgrimage center for Christians all over the world, was closed. The last time it was closed

The President Is Trapped

For his entire adult life, and for his entire presidency, Donald Trump has created his own alternate reality, complete with his own alternate set of facts. He has shown himself to be erratic, impulsive, narcissistic, vindictive, cruel, mendacious, and devoid of empathy. None of that is new. But we’re now entering the most dangerous phase of

NIH Director: ‘We’re on an Exponential Curve’

“There are estimates that if nothing goes right and if we fail to flatten the curve and if health systems are overwhelmed, we might see the deaths of as many as a million and a half people in the United States.” That’s what Francis Collins, the director of the National Institutes of Health, told me on

The Trump Presidency Is Over

When, in January 2016, I wrote that despite being a lifelong Republican who worked in the previous three GOP administrations I would never vote for Donald Trump, even though his administration would align much more with my policy views than a Hillary Clinton presidency would, a lot of my Republican friends were befuddled. How could I not

What Pete Buttigieg Understood

Pete Buttigieg and I disagree on many policies, which you might expect, because he describes himself as a progressive and I’m a conservative. I believe his views on abortion to be extreme, for example, and his approach to religious liberties to be uncompromising. But I can acknowledge those differences while also acknowledging the admiration I have for Buttigieg, who

A Profile in Courage

Mitt Romney is doing something nearly unheard of these days: He’s putting his country above his party. He’s voting his conscience when doing so comes at a cost. He’s not rationalizing weakness and timidity by prettying them up as virtues. He will vote to convict President Donald Trump, in an act of extraordinary political courage. This

The Downfall of the Republican Party

On Friday, Republicans in the United States Senate—with the exception of Mitt Romney and Susan Collins—voted to prevent John Bolton, Donald Trump’s former national security adviser, from testifying in the impeachment trial of the president. The reason they did so is undeniable: They did not want to hear from the most credible fact witness of

There Is No Christian Case for Trump

An editorial last month in the evangelical world’s flagship publication, Christianity Today, argued that Donald Trump should be removed from office. The editorial, the last one written by the editor in chief Mark Galli before his planned retirement, heartened those evangelicals who have been unsettled by their co-religionists’ enthusiastic support for Trump. But the editorial upset many

Christmas Turns the World Upside Down

If you were wholly unfamiliar with the life of Jesus and listened only to what many Christians in America say today, you could be forgiven for thinking that the most important thing Christianity values is worldly power — the power to control and compel, to impose one’s will on others, to vanquish one’s enemies. Blessed

White House Oral History: Peter Wehner

Below is a transcript of an interview with EPPC Senior Fellow Peter Wehner, who served as Deputy Director for Speechwriting; Deputy Assistant to the President and Head of White House Office of Strategic Initiatives in the George W. Bush administration. The interview was conducted as part of the University of Virginia Miller Center’s George W.

Christian Doomsayers Have Lost It

We are facing an existential moral crisis. That at least is the view of many Christians who have given their full-throated support to President Trump. Some of them will privately admit that he is deeply corrupt, but the justification for their support of him goes something like this: Mr. Trump may be unethical, unscrupulous and

The Moral Universe of Timothy Keller

Shortly after I met my wife, Cindy, in 1989—she was living in New York City at the time, while I was living in Northern Virginia—she told me about a new church she was attending in Manhattan: Redeemer Presbyterian. The young minister, she told me, was “the best pastor in America.” His name was Timothy J. Keller.

Are Trump’s Critics Demonically Possessed?

It isn’t enough for Franklin Graham and Eric Metaxas, two prominent figures within the American evangelical movement, to lavish praise on President Donald Trump. They have now decided they must try to demonize his critics. Literally. During his November 21 interview with Graham, Metaxas, a Salem Radio Network talk-show host, asked the son of the late evangelist

The Exposure of the Republican Party

The first day of public hearings into the impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump included an explosive revelation. William B. Taylor Jr., the senior American diplomat in Ukraine, tied Trump even more directly than we previously knew to the effort to pressure Ukraine to probe his political opponent. But as damaging as Taylor’s testimony proved, it

The Presidency Deserves Respect—Even When the President Does Not

After the third inning of Sunday’s Game 5 of the World Series, while sitting in a luxury suite, President Donald Trump was introduced to a sold-out crowd at Nationals Park. The announcement was met with a cascade of boos—hitting almost 100 decibels—and chants of “Lock him up!” and “Impeach Trump!” Behind home plate, veterans for impeachment signs

Trump Betrayed the Kurds. He Couldn’t Help Himself.

President Donald Trump’s betrayal of the Kurds stung deeply. “They trusted us and we broke that trust. It’s a stain on the American conscience.” These, according to The New York Times, are the searing words of an Army officer who has worked alongside the Kurds in northern Syria. Kurdish forces played a central role in aiding the United

What’s the Matter With Republicans?

In a sane world, the reaction of Republicans to the “memorandum of telephone conversation” between President Trump and the president of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, combined with the whistle-blower complaint filed by an intelligence officer describing a White House cover-up, would be similar to the response of Republicans after the release, on Aug. 5, 1974, of the “smoking

Trump Is Not Well

During the 2016 campaign, I received a phone call from an influential political journalist and author, who was soliciting my thoughts on Donald Trump. Trump’s rise in the Republican Party was still something of a shock, and he wanted to know the things I felt he should keep in mind as he went about the

The Joe Walsh Challenge

Joe Walsh, a one-term Congressman from Illinois who became a fiery right-wing radio host, announced on Sunday that he would challenge President Trump for the Republican nomination. The former Tea Party favorite declared Mr. Trump “completely unfit” to be president, before adding that “everyone” in the Republican Party knows it. If so, Republicans have a strange way

Trump’s Words Are Poison

We don’t know, and we may never know, how much President Donald Trump’s rhetoric influenced the white supremacist in El Paso who allegedly killed 22 people. What we do know is that Trump has done more than any politician in living memory to fan the flames of ethnic and racial antipathy and nurture a culture of bigotry.

For Conservatives Critical of Trump: Talking to Peter Wehner

[Below is an interview with EPPC Senior Fellow Peter Wehner conducted by Andy Fitch for the Los Angeles Review of Books. Mr. Fitch’s introduction is below, followed by the interview.] What might one of the first prominent conservatives to publicly oppose Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign think about both Republican politics and American politics today?

George Will Changes His Mind—But Stays True to His Convictions

When I arrived in Washington, D.C., as an intern in the 1980s, there were two columnists I read with intentionality, with the goal of becoming a better and more thoughtful writer. One was Charles Krauthammer; the other was George Will. Will—who began his twice-weekly column for The Washington Post in 1974 and won the Pulitzer Prize for

The Deepening Crisis in Evangelical Christianity

Last week, Ralph Reed, the Faith and Freedom Coalition’s founder and chairman, told the group, “There has never been anyone who has defended us and who has fought for us, who we have loved more than Donald J. Trump. No one!” Reed is partially right; for many evangelical Christians, there is no political figure whom

Interview: A Conservative’s Vision: Let’s Make Politics Great Again

Below is the text of EPPC Senior Fellow Peter Wehner’s conversation with the Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin about political polarization, evangelical voters, friendships amidst political differences and why we need to rededicate ourselves to politics rightly understood. Peter Wehner, a former adviser to President George W. Bush and a prominent Never Trump voice, is out

Trump Is Betting That Anger Can Still Be Power

Donald Trump has been the most persistently unpopular first-term president in the postwar era. Much of the nation is exhausted and embarrassed by his presidency, pining for normalcy, eager to change the channel. The president’s own internal polls show Mr. Trump trailing the former vice president, Joe Biden, not only in many battleground states Mr. Trump won in

Trump’s Sinister Assault on Truth

Like many writers I know, I’ve had a passion for words for almost as long as I can remember. I’ve admired those who use words well, who have shaped my imagination and given voice to things I wanted to express but didn’t feel like I adequately could. That is why they have to be protected

Interview: Culture War vs. Culture Care

[Below is part two of Peter Wehner’s interview with Kathryn Jean Lopez about the themes of his new book, The Death of Politics. Read part one of the conversation here.] *** Lopez: If we have come to think of politics as “nasty, brutish, and depressing,” what is that doing to our souls? Wehner: It’s damaging them. Just as

Interview: A Political Renewal?

[Below is an interview of EPPC Senior Fellow Peter Wehner conducted by Kathryn Jean Lopez of National Review Online. Ms. Lopez’s introduction precedes the interview.] *** Peter Wehner, the former George W. Bush senior administration aide and current senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, has some hopeful things to say about politics,

Politics Is Not Total War

This essay is adapted from Peter Wehner’s book The Death of Politics: How to Heal Our Frayed Republic After Trump. Every time I left a job in government — in the Reagan administration and in both Bush administrations — my I.Q. rose by 30 points. Or so it seemed. The explanation is simple: It turns

The Genius of Stephen Curry

I’ve been a sports fan my entire life, and for most of it, my loyalties have not been geographic. What attracts me to athletes isn’t so much the team they play for, but rather the qualities they embody: poise, discipline, courage, competitiveness; elegance, creativity, artistry. Sports at its best is a showcase for human excellence,

David Brooks’s Journey Toward Faith

When David Brooks started writing his column in The New York Times more than a decade and a half ago, he became an instant star. Today, he’s one of America’s most influential columnists, insightful and elegant, able to catalyze debates on topics simply by writing about them. Yet anyone who has regularly read Brooks over the years—or, in

Why Jesus on the Cross Is No Mere Symbol

During a Christmas break while I was a student at the University of Washington, I tuned in to a show that influenced the trajectory of my faith, quite by accident. It was a broadcast of an hourlong “Firing Line” interview in 1980 between William F. Buckley Jr. and Malcolm Muggeridge, the British journalist who late

Pete Buttigieg’s Very Public Faith Is Challenging Assumptions

The mayor of a medium-size midwestern city, Rhodes Scholar, and war veteran who is liturgically conservative and cites Saint Augustine as one of his religious influences is running for president. He’s also a Democrat. He is criticizing the current president, a Republican, for his infidelity and lack of family values. And he’s gay. Sometimes politics unfolds differently

The Democratic Party is Radicalizing

The transformation of the GOP into the party of Patrick J. Buchanan and Donald J. Trump—defined by cultural resentments, crude populism, and ethnic nationalism—is among the most important political stories of this century. But the GOP is hardly the only party that is undergoing some alarming tectonic shifts. Liberals wondering why conservatives who worry about Trump don’t

Religion and Polarized Politics: An Interview with Melissa Rogers and Peter Wehner

The 2016 election of President Trump highlighted the country’s state of political polarization. Many argue that people have retreated into their respective ideological corners: Democrat and Republican, secular and religious, rural and urban. On February 12, Washington University in St. Louis welcomed two former White House officials to discuss how religion has played a part in contributing

It’s a Blessing to Bear Your Friend’s Burden

People who are struggling with depression or other difficulties often assume that sharing their story with friends imposes a burden on them. In fact, the opposite is usually true: From a true friend’s perspective, being entrusted with the cares and burdens of another is a privilege. It’s an opportunity to dispense generosity, and a sign

Republicans Sink Further Into Trump’s Cesspool

Michael Cohen’s testimony before Congress on Wednesday revealed as much about the Republican Party as it did about President Trump and his former lawyer. In the aftermath of Mr. Cohen’s damning testimony, several things stand out. The first is that unlike John Dean, the former White House counsel who delivered searing testimony against President Richard

Republicans Got Us into This Mess, and They Have to Get Us out of It

At first glance, in the wake of the roars of approval President Trump received from Republican lawmakers during his State of the Union address on Tuesday night, it may seem fanciful to think the president might be forced out of office by members of his own party. At second glance, too. Yet sometimes things that

What I’ve Gained by Leaving the Republican Party

I’m a politically homeless person these days. For most of my life, I’ve been closely affiliated with the Republican Party. My first vote was cast for Ronald Reagan in 1980. I worked in his administration, as well as that of George H. W. Bush; for seven years, I was a senior adviser to President George W.

The Uncommon Power of Grace

In his book “What’s So Amazing About Grace?” Philip Yancey describes a conference on comparative religions where experts from around the world debated which belief, if any, was unique to the Christian faith. C.S. Lewis happened to enter the room during the discussion. When he was told the topic was Christianity’s unique contribution among world

The Full-Spectrum Corruption of Donald Trump

There’s never been any confusion about the character defects of Donald Trump. The question has always been just how far he would go and whether other individuals and institutions would stand up to him or become complicit in his corruption. When I first took to these pages three summers ago to write about Mr. Trump,

Interview: What’s Left of the Right?

EPPC Senior Fellow Peter Wehner took part the following roundtable interview for Democracy journal with other Republicans regarding President Trump. The anti-Trump conservatives—as opposed to the anti-Trump Republicans, of which there are perhaps two—have made for a fascinating story in this era. We thought this was a good time to check in with a few of them

The Example of Charles Krauthammer

I was a student at the University of Washington in Seattle when I arrived in Washington, D.C., to work as an intern in 1983. I was in search of an intellectual role model. I soon found one in Charles Krauthammer, who was writing for The New Republic and Time. In 1985, he became a columnist

The Great #MeToo Awakening

The Me Too movement, which began by exposing predatory male behavior and hypocrisy in liberal enclaves like Hollywood and the mainstream media, is spreading throughout the rest of society. The evangelical Protestant world is the latest to be shaken by revelations of sexual abuse and sexism. It’s facing an ugly, painful — but necessary —

Why I Am Still Grateful

Gratitude may be the mother of all the other virtues, as Cicero said, and it may be among the healthiest. But it’s also an elusive one in a society that is always striving for more and in a world “more full of weeping than you can understand,” as Yeats wrote. Our tendency is to reach past what we

Trust, Facts and the Post-Truth Political Moment

“Trust, Facts and the Post-Truth Political Moment” is a white paper by EPPC Senior Fellow Peter Wehner for the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. In it, he discusses the physiological appeal of confirmation bias and gives a historical perspective on the phenomenon; explains why post-truth politics is dangerous and particularly acute today; and examines

Trump’s White House Is a Black Hole

Character is fate. That’s as true for a president as it is for anyone else, and so it’s no surprise that the Trump presidency is engulfed in chaos. The policy process is broken and incoherent, with the White House lurching from one position to another. Factions are warring. Top aides are embroiled in scandal and bailing out.

The Bible Has Long Deserved a Museum. Now It Finally Has One.

Diana Muir Applebaum’s essay, “Who’s Afraid of the Museum of the Bible?,” is informative, skillfully argued, fair-minded, and leavened by wit and elegance. It is also much needed, since the museum has come under harsh assault from a variety of sources. Before addressing the nature of that assault, I’d like to register very briefly my

How Can I Possibly Believe That Faith Is Better Than Doubt?

Why is it that, according to Jesus, faith is better than proof? That’s a question I’ve struggled to answer ever since I began my pilgrimage of faith as a young man. Sometimes it seemed more pressing, other times less so. It can intensify during periods of grief and pain, when faith may not offer much consolation

Recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital Is Recognizing Reality

I’ve been quite critical of Donald Trump, in part because of his sustained attacks on reality. But in the case of his decision last week to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, the president did the opposite: He recognized reality, even as his critics insist that we inhabit the world of make-believe. Jerusalem is the de facto capital

Why I Can No Longer Call Myself an Evangelical Republican

There are times in life when the institutional ground underneath you begins to crumble — and with it, longstanding attachments. Such is the case for me when it comes to the Republican Party and evangelicalism. I’ve been a part of both for my entire adult life. These days, though, in many important ways they are

Restoring the Spirit of Liberty at Home and Abroad

This essay is an excerpt of the Call to Action paper authored by George W. Bush Institute Human Freedom Fellows Thomas O. Melia and Peter Wehner. The paper will be presented at The Spirit of Liberty: At Home, in the World conference the Bush Institute is convening in New York on October 19. The paper lays the foundation for a Bush

A Call to Patriotism in America

We live in a dangerous world and need to be clearheaded about the challenges confronting us. Yet we are also beset by increasingly evident downdraft in democratic resilience in countries that have long been part of the West. In many democratic countries, we are seeing a rise in demagogic populism, illiberalism, nationalism and protectionism. There

Going Against the Republican Herd

A year after President Trump’s stunning electoral victory, the Republican Party is in a very strange place. It’s politically dominant but increasingly unpopular, particularly among young people and nonwhites of all ages, whose level of unhappiness with Mr. Trump and his administration is toxic. Republicans have all the power but can’t seem to get much

Seeing Trump Through a Glass, Darkly

It’s an odd feeling when you find yourself effectively living on an island unconnected to people with whom you were once politically close. But it’s a feeling with which I’ve become very familiar. Recent encounters with old political allies and friends have left me not just with a feeling of isolation but a sense that

A Humble Political Influencer Gets His Crowns in Heaven

Michael Cromartie, who passed away earlier today, was one of the most life-affirming people I ever met. He had a radiant personality, deep and winsome faith, endless energy, and tremendous generosity of spirit. He touched and brightened countless lives during his earthly pilgrimage, mine very much among them. I first met Mike in 1985, when we started

Behold Our ‘Child King’

Republican lawmakers have seen the Trump disaster coming for a while now. They simply have no clue what to do about it. A couple of months ago — before we learned that Donald Trump Jr. wanted to spend quality time with people he believed represented the Russian government, before the president publicly humiliated his attorney

Evangelicals, Trump and the Politics of Redemption

Jonathan Merritt, who writes On Faith & Culture for RNS, invited Peter Wehner — senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center and a contributing op-ed writer at The New York Times — to write this guest column on his blog. (RNS) — We’re at a hinge moment in the public witness of American Christianity. The evangelical Christian

Declaration of Disruption

One of the essential, if often unstated, job requirements of an American president is to provide stability, order and predictability in a world that tends toward chaos, disarray and entropy. When our political leaders ignore this — and certainly when they delight in disruption — the consequences can be severe. Stability is easy to take

Where Is the Republican Leadership?

President Trump’s firing of James Comey, the 7th director of the F.B.I., was an abuse of power. Republicans — Republican lawmakers and especially the congressional leadership — need to say so. But that is hardly enough. Words must be followed by actions. At a minimum, Republicans must insist on a congressional select committee or independent

Mr. Trump Goes to Washington

After a series of meetings and phone calls with high-ranking officials this month, a Republican who deals regularly with the Trump administration confided in me about his frustration. “The dysfunction in this White House just knows no bounds,” he said. Of the many things people worried about before President Trump took office, it turned out

Interview with Peter Wehner: Hardwired for Hope

Recently, EPPC Senior Fellow Peter Wehner was interviewed by Elizabeth Eisenstadt-Evans, a religion columnist, in the aftermath of his recent New York Times column on pain, suffering and the Christian faith. The interview is below. Was there something happening in your own life that prompted you to write your “Where Is God?” column? I have been a

The Quiet Power of Humility

Over breakfast with a social psychologist I know, I asked him what constructive contribution Christians could make to public life. An atheist who finds much to admire in religion, he answered simply: “Humility.” That is a perfectly reasonable hope. Unfortunately, however, humility is a neglected Christian virtue. This is rather odd, given that humility should

After Great Pain, Where Is God?

These days I find I’m more alert to the grief and sorrow around me than I once was. In part it’s a product of my age, of youth giving way. I’m guessing my situation is not that different from many of yours. Last month I checked in on a childhood friend whose 13-year-old son committed

The Battle for the Soul of Conservatism

One of the concerns those of us who are conservative had about the right rallying around Donald Trump is that he would have a degrading effect on conservatism itself. It hasn’t taken much time for those concerns to be realized. One recent example: In an interview broadcast just prior to the Super Bowl, Fox News host Bill

Why I Cannot Fall in Line Behind Trump

A year ago, I declared on these pages that despite being a Republican my whole life, I would not under any circumstances vote for Donald J. Trump for president. Since then, I’ve been asked by other Republicans if I kept that promise (I did) and whether I regret it (I don’t). Republicans who disagree with my stance

Eight Was Enough

It wasn’t supposed to end this way for Democrats. Eight years ago, Barack Obama won the presidency promising to transform America. A supremely self-confident politician, Mr. Obama was the object of extravagant hopes that he nurtured and encouraged. After his Super Tuesday primary victories in 2008, Mr. Obama said that the movement he began would “ring out across

Obama’s Attack on Israel

That Barack Obama would exit his presidency with one final betrayal of Israel is a shameful act by the most relentlessly anti-Israeli president in American history. The particular form this betrayal took was the United States not only abstaining  from voting on an anti-Israeli U.N. resolution,  but, according to the Israelis, helping to craft and

Humanizing Jesus

Early in my Christian pilgrimage, as a young man struggling to understand the implications of a story I had only a surface knowledge of, I stumbled onto a theological insight. For followers of Jesus, salvation was based not on his life so much as his death. Jesus could have been incarnated as a man and

Moderation is Not a Dirty Word

The Trump era will be unpredictable in many ways. But there’s one thing that we can reasonably count on. Moderation, an ancient virtue, will be viewed with contempt. After all, the most temperamentally immoderate major party nominee in American history ran for president and won because of it. Victory spawns imitation, and the Trump template

The Republican Party Is Being Refashioned

Donald Trump’s election was the most shocking and unsettling in American history. How did he do it, especially since he received almost 2m fewer votes than Mitt Romney in 2012? Answer: Hillary Clinton received almost 7m fewer votes than Barack Obama did in 2012. The coalition that propelled Mr Obama to two impressive victories simply did not

Is There Life After Trump?

With only hours left before Election Day, here’s the painful, self-evident truth facing lifelong Republicans like me: The 2016 presidential campaign has revealed dark and disturbing things about not only Donald J. Trump but also the party that nominated him. Self-renewal starts — but doesn’t end — with self-examination. The forces that propelled Mr. Trump’s

In Defense of Politics, Now More Than Ever

One of John F. Kennedy’s favorite books was John Buchan’s 1940 memoir, “Pilgrim’s Way.” Buchan, who served as a member of Parliament for the combined Scottish universities, wrote, “Public life is regarded as the crown of a career, and to young men it is the worthiest ambition.” Politics, he added, “is still the greatest and

Republicans Who Care about the Future of the Party Should Ask These Questions

There is much discussion among Republicans, and particularly for those of us who have long counted ourselves as Never Trump, about the future of the Republican party once Donald Trump is defeated on November 8, as many of us expect he will be. Sometimes the best way to think things through is by asking the

The Ego-Driven Life

Donald Trump can’t help being himself. It’s why he lost yet another debate and why he will lose the election. The post-debate coverage has been dominated by Mr. Trump’s refusal to say he won’t accept the election results, and rightly so. It would be a shocking statement, except for the fact that he has spent

Politics and the English Language: An Introduction

Below is an excerpt from EPPC Senior Fellow Peter Wehner’s introduction to a forthcoming edition of George Orwell’s “Politics and the English Language,” to be published soon by The Trinity Forum. Readers may order a copy of the Trinity Forum reading here.  Orwell’s Most Enduring Essay “Politics and the English Language,” published in 1946 in the journal

The Political Magic of C.S. Lewis

When I was on Christmas break from college in 1980, I wrote a letter to the editor of my hometown newspaper, The Tri-City Herald. It was published soon after I began to embrace Christianity, a gradual rather than a dramatic process that didn’t come all that easily. The letter was a response to a man who

Longing for Uplift

Below is an article by EPPC Senior Fellow Peter Wehner for the University of Virginia’s Miller Center. Done in the form of a memorandum to the next president, it offers a way to think about, and the elements that might comprise, an Opportunity Agenda. Our politics these days is largely devoid of a serious discussion of policies, including ones that would promote opportunity

The Comprehensive Case Against Donald Trump

The strongest case to make for conservatives supporting Donald Trump is a modest one. It goes like this: He is a deeply flawed man who is running against someone who is even more deeply flawed. Hillary Clinton is a person with liberal instincts who has been pulled further to the left in this campaign. She

George Orwell’s Fierce Modesty

A few days ago I was reading George Orwell’s 1938 book Homage to Catalonia, a gripping account of his role in the Spanish Civil War, first as a journalist and then as a participant. Near the end of the book are these words: I hope the account I have given is not too misleading. I

Under the Dark Spell of Trump, Jerry Falwell Jr. Is Damaging Public Christian Witness

Why do some Evangelical Christians act in ways that reinforce some of the worst stereotypes propagated by their critics? Take Jerry Falwell Jr., president of Liberty University, which claims to be the largest Christian University in the world. Falwell, together with the Reverend Robert Jeffress, a pastor and televangelist, has been among Donald Trump’s most

Beware of Blind Spots

Dear President Darren Walker and friends at the Ford Foundation: Your recent decision to direct all of the revenue of one of America’s larger foundations to reducing inequality among our people is an ambitious approach to a serious problem. Millions of Americans are having trouble advancing economically and are losing hope. Private foundations like yours

Can We Find Our Way Back to Lincoln?

For my entire adult life I have listened to the invective leveled against the Republican Party by liberals: It is a party sustained by racist appeals, composed of haters and conspiracy nuts, indifferent to the plight of the poor and the weak, anti-woman. I have repeatedly denied those charges, publicly and forcefully. The broad indictment,

The Theology of Donald Trump

Since Donald Trump assures us that the Bible is his favorite book, it’s worth asking: Just what is his theology? After Mr. Trump met with hundreds of evangelical Christians a couple of weeks ago, James Dobson, who is among the most influential leaders in the evangelical world and serves on Mr. Trump’s evangelical executive advisory

The Indelible Stain of Donald Trump

The Republican Party’s politically lethal embrace of Donald J. Trump is very nearly complete. In endorsing Mr. Trump earlier this month, Paul Ryan, the speaker of the House, stipulated that while he and Mr. Trump have their differences, “we have more common ground than disagreement.” A President Trump, he argued, will help turn the agenda

Republicans’ Delusional Hopes

It tells you something about the desperate state of the Republican Party that Donald Trump’s speech last night — an inoffensive (because it was non-racist) and pedestrian set of remarks, which primarily focused on his fiercely protectionist views — would elicit such relief, praise, and hope. Pro-Trump commentators were telling us how it was evidence

The Imagination of C.S. Lewis

Over Memorial Day weekend, eager to find some relief from this dreary political year, I retreated to the world of Narnia, or at least to the world of the man who created Narnia. During the holiday, I read the excellent biography by Alan Jacobs, The Narnian: The Life and Imagination of C.S. Lewis. There are several

Making the Case for the Good Life

In a bleak political year, there comes a shaft of light in the form of an extraordinary new book, The Fractured Republic: Renewing America’s Social Contract in the Age of Individualism. The book is authored by my former White House and current Ethics and Public Policy Center colleague Yuval Levin. Yuval, editor of the quarterly

Donald Trump’s Aggressive Ignorance

A recent story in Politico reported the following: A source familiar with [Donald] Trump’s thinking explained that the billionaire businessman was reluctant to add new layers of policy experts now, feeling it would only muddy his populist message that has been hyper-focused on illegal immigration, trade and fighting Islamic extremists. “He doesn’t want to waste time on

Why We Shouldn’t Fight Dirty

If you want an insight into the mindset of a good number of Donald Trump supporters, you simply need to listen to them. And you could hardly do better than to take in the words of a longtime Rush Limbaugh listener, Sean in Philadelphia, who called Limbaugh a few days ago. According to Sean, who is

Friendship in the Age of Trump

At this stage in a presidential campaign, Republicans, generally a rather disciplined lot, have usually united and begun to train their fire on Democrats. Circular firing squads are for them, not us. Not this year. The candidacy of Donald J. Trump is not only fracturing the Republican Party, it is breaking up friendships as well.

Let’s See Trump in All His Ugliness

Well that lasted a long time, didn’t it? The “that” I have in mind is the New Donald Trump — the one, countless newspaper reporters and political commentators told us, who emerged in the aftermath of the New York primary, which he won in an overwhelming fashion. We read in story after story that Mr.

Trump Remains a Threat to Conservatism

In his op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, Fred Barnes reports that Donald Trump “plans a series of formal speeches on policy issues, set pieces drafted by speechwriters and delivered from prepared texts… Mr. Trump wants to use the policy speeches to persuade conservatives, among other skeptics, that he is more in sync with their

Our Great Easter Hope

The writer Philip Yancey recently offered up this observation: I wrote in Vanishing Grace about an important insight I learned from a Muslim scholar who said to me, “I have read the entire Koran and can find in it no guidance on how Muslims should live as a minority in a society. I have read the entire New

The Man the Founders Feared

“I think you’d have riots.” So said Donald J. Trump last week, when he was asked by CNN what he thought would happen if he arrived at the Republican Convention this summer a few delegates short of the 1,237 needed to win outright and didn’t set forth from Cleveland as the party’s nominee. It is

The Party of Reagan Is No More

With the death on March 6 of a dignified First Lady–an influential cultural figure in her own right and the devoted keeper of her husband’s flame–both Ronald and Nancy Reagan have now passed into history. Increasingly, it appears, the same can be said of the party they took such care in shaping. The most obvious

A Conversation: How Can Evangelicals Support Trump?

EPPC Senior Fellow Peter Wehner talked with Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin about Donald Trump’s apparent widespread support among evangelical voters. This interview originally appeared in two parts (part 1 here; part 2 here). The introductory text is Ms. Rubin’s.  As stunning to me as the widespread Republican support for Donald Trump — an opportunist,

What Wouldn’t Jesus Do?

Among the most inexplicable developments in this bizarre political year is that Donald Trump is the candidate of choice of many evangelical Christians. Mr. Trump won a plurality of evangelical votes in each of the last three Republican contests, in New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada. He won the glowing endorsement of Jerry Falwell Jr.,

Rebuilding a Marriage Culture in 21st-Century Black and Latino America

In 2000, Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D., N.Y.) was asked to identify the biggest change he had seen in his 40-year political career. Moynihan, a man of unusual wisdom, experience, and perspective, responded this way: “The biggest change, in my judgment, is that family structure has come apart all over the North Atlantic world.” This

The Passing of a Supreme Court Giant

Sometimes the death of a person is expected, the final act after a long, slow decline that finally frees an individual from misery. Other times death is a jolt, something that stuns us because we cannot imagine a person of great vitality, zest and life-affirming energy is taken from us before his time. Even if

Certitude and Seeking the Truth

While reading Gregory Weiner’s fascinating book American Burke, I came across this comment: “(Daniel Patrick) Moynihan’s intellectual curiosity was such that he gravitated toward thinkers with whom he disagree precisely because he disagreed with them and could consequently learn from them.” This observation reminded me of an incident in 1948 involving C.S. Lewis and Elizabeth

Why I Will Never Vote for Donald Trump

Beginning with Ronald Reagan, I have voted Republican in every presidential election since I first became eligible to vote in 1980. I worked in the Reagan and George H. W. Bush administrations and in the White House for George W. Bush as a speechwriter and adviser. I have also worked for Republican presidential campaigns, although

The Christmas Revolution

Because the Christmas story has been told so often for so long, it’s easy even for Christians to forget how revolutionary Jesus’ birth was. The idea that God would become human and dwell among us, in circumstances both humble and humiliating, shattered previous assumptions. It was through this story of divine enfleshment that much of our

The Closing of Barack Obama’s Mind

If you want to witness an adamantine mind at work, you could do a whole lot worse that observe the 44th president of the United States. Barack Obama is the most rigidly ideological president of my lifetime, a man who has a nearly blind adherence to a particular ideology (progressivism). It’s a disturbing, if at

Reclaim Republicanism for the Conservatives

The Republican party has traditionally been the predictable party when it comes to nominating a presidential nominee. But for 2016 everything has been tossed on its head. Donald Trump has a double-digit lead over his closest rival, according to a poll published Wednesday, leaving establishment figures trailing. The former reality television star in whom many are investing

Paul Ryan’s Voice of Calm Reason

The debate about whether the United States ought to accept at least 10,000 Syrian refugees, as President Obama has proposed, is typical of many issues in public life in which there are legitimate arguments on both sides. As a result, they need to be carefully weighed and balanced. (Most of the time we speak as

President Obama’s Hypocrisy on Syria

In 2008, Barack Obama won the presidency promising that he would heal our political divisions. Instead, Mr. Obama has been as polarizing as any president in the history of modern polling. The debate over the Syrian refugee crisis illustrates why. The civil war in Syria has created one of the worst refugee crises since World

Our Bitter and Graceless President

We all know people of towering arrogance and we all know people of staggering incompetence, but Barack Obama is quite possibly the perfect package. No one on the scene today combines these two qualities in quite the same way as Mr. Obama. On the incompetence side, and sticking just with the president’s policies and record in

How Christians Can Flourish in a Same-Sex-Marriage World

The Supreme Court’s decision that the Constitution guarantees a right to same-sex marriage was a landmark moment in US history. The sweeping language of the majority opinion placed gay rights firmly within the moral tradition of the civil rights movement. And like a boulder thrown into a pond, it will have public consequences for decades.

The Promise of Speaker Paul Ryan

On Thursday morning, Paul Ryan was elected Speaker of the House. In his 13-minute acceptance speech, Ryan acknowledged that the House of Representatives is broken – “We are not solving problems. We are adding to them.” – and offered up some procedural changes, including having committees retake the lead in drafting all major legislation, opening

Why Ben Carson’s Nazi Analogies Matter

Like many other political autodidacts, Ben Carson has an odd obsession with Nazi Germany. On several occasions, the pediatric-neurosurgeon-turned-Republican-presidential-candidate has compared the United States to the Third Reich. Mr. Carson has warned that a Hitler-like figure could rise in America. To understand what is happening in the Obama era, he recommended that people read “Mein Kampf.” And

Advice to the Next President

The Miller Center, a nonpartisan affiliate of the University of Virginia that specializes in presidential scholarship, public policy, and political history, has launched a new project called “First Year 2017.” Every two months, the Miller Center will publish a set of short memos offering historical perspective and assessing some of the biggest contemporary challenges the

Seeking President, No Experience Necessary

If you are looking for evidence of the deep antipathy that exists in the Republican Party toward politicians, consider that the three candidates leading the race for the Republican presidential nomination — Donald Trump, Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina — have zero years of governing experience among them. In fact, for many Republican voters, governing

Will the Trump Madness Now End?

The election this past weekend of Jeremy Corbyn to lead the British Labour Party is a huge political development in the United Kingdom. Mr. Corbyn is not just liberal; he’s hard left, having expressed his support for (among other things) unilateral nuclear disarmament, the nationalization of some of Britain’s biggest industries, and talks with Hamas

Clinton, Trump and the Politics of Self-Destruction

Right now it looks very much as if the two major political parties in America are in a race to see which one can destroy itself first. On the Republican side, Donald J. Trump not only leads but dominates the presidential race. Crude, erratic, unprincipled and unelectable, Mr. Trump, if he were to win the

Is Hillary Clinton Finished?

That may seem like a wildly premature question in the summer of the year before the presidential election. To which I would respond: It’s too early to know the answer to the question, but it’s not too early to ask it. I say that because of the extraordinary developments surrounding Mrs. Clinton’s private email server,

Why Civility is a Democratic Virtue

Craig Shirley, a public affairs consultant and author of a fine book on Ronald Reagan, has written an article titled, “In Defense of Incivility.” Capturing a certain temperament one finds on the right these days, Shirley insists that civility is not only overrated; more civility is an outright threat to American democracy, “the last thing we

Our Morally Disoriented Times

I’m not a big game hunter. I like animals, we have a dog that is beloved by my family, and I don’t know why anyone would take particular delight in shooting a lion. But the world-wide reaction to the killing of Cecil (which is briefly touched on by John Hinderaker here) is both amazing and

A Glimpse Into the Culture of Death

Thanks to a secret video that was released by the Center for Medical Progress, a pro-life group, we have been provided a glimpse into the culture of death. In this case, it was provided by Deborah Nucatola, Planned Parenthood’s senior director of medical services and an abortion doctor. Dr. Nucatola’s conversation was with two people

Obama’s Worst Mistake

I wanted to add my voice to those who have already written about the deal between Iran and Western powers, led by the United States. It is an agreement that is likely to set in motion a terrible chain of events — reviving the Iranian economy while simultaneously putting Iran well on the road to gaining nuclear

President Donald Trump? Just Say No

Donald Trump is a force in the Republican presidential race. Two recent polls show him running second to Jeb Bush nationally. He’s also polling second in Iowa and New Hampshire. And his pronouncements are commanding attention, especially on Fox News, where he’s a popular presence. Some of this is attributable to the fact that Mr.

How an Act of Grace Changed the Republican Party

As those of us who were not directly touched by the horrifying massacre in Charleston begin to move on, it’s worth trying to put some of the events in a broader context. How the Republican Party became the dominant party of the Old Confederacy – first benefiting from it, then struggling because of it, and finally

A Welcome Tipping Point for Republicans and the Confederate Flag

As everyone knows by now, in the wake of the massacre at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina lasted week, allegedly perpetrated by a racist, Dylann Roof, there have been renewed calls to remove the Confederate flag from state grounds. Among Republicans, those calls have come from prominent lawmakers from South Carolina, most

Conservatives and Climate Change

The political debate over climate change has long resembled a contest to see which party can discredit itself more. Liberals have seized upon outlandishly improbable climate scenarios to urge drastic and immediate action. Former vice president Al Gore, a leading liberal voice on the subject, has compared global warming to “an asteroid colliding with the

Jeb Bush Makes His Case

After more than half-a-year of being in the “exploratory stage” of the campaign, on Monday former Florida Governor Jeb Bush made it official: He’s running for president. His announcement speech was very well crafted — elegant and deft, forceful in some parts and demonstrating a light touch in others. It crisply covered a lot of ground and was aimed

Have You Ever Been Wrong?

I recently wrote about confirmation bias and the limits of human knowledge. In that discussion, I observed that in politics the desire to defend our “team” is often an even more powerful inducement to ignore contrary arguments than the desire to confirm our own personal assumptions. In response to that post, I received a note from

Have Democrats Pulled Too Far Left?

Among liberals, it’s almost universally assumed that of the two major parties, it’s the Republicans who have become more extreme over the years. That’s a self-flattering but false narrative. This is not to say the Republican Party hasn’t become a more conservative party. It has. But in the last two decades the Democratic Party has moved

Counting Up Obama’s Cataclysmic Foreign Policy Failures

With the Islamic State expanding its reach after two key victories in Ramadi, the capital of Iraq’s Anbar Province, and Palmyra, a strategically important city in Syria, it might a good time to ask: What are the worst foreign policy failures of Barack Obama’s presidency? The list is long; here are several to choose from.

Police Lives Matter

Do the names Benjamin Deen and Liquori Tate mean anything to you? Probably not, but they should. Messrs. Deen and Tate, both police officers, were shot dead in Hattiesburg, Mississippi last Saturday night during a traffic stop that ended in a hail of gunfire. The suspects fled the scene but were later arrested. Four individuals

Sorry, Media, but Hillary is Incompetent

A recent article in The Economist, in stating that Hillary Clinton starts as the favorite to win the 2016 presidential election, posed the question: What does she stand for? To which the author answered: Competence and experience, say her supporters. As secretary of state, she flew nearly a million miles and visited 112 countries. If

Hillary Clinton’s Tangle of Corruption

Hillary Clinton is making her life more difficult than it needs to be. I’m speaking in this instance of the donations by foreign governments to the Clinton Foundation. As Jonathan made note of yesterday, a New York Times story on the forthcoming book by Peter Schweizer, Clinton Cash, asserts that “foreign entities who made payments to

Take Them at Their Word

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu offered this assessment of the American-led negotiations with Iran the day before a deal was announced: Yesterday an Iranian general brazenly declared, and I quote: “Israel’s destruction is non-negotiable.” But evidently giving Iran’s murderous regime a clear path to the bomb is negotiable. This is unconscionable. The statement from Brig.

The Culture Wars v. the Culture of Life

A few days ago I wrote a piece warning Republicans of the coming culture wars, led by Hillary Clinton, who will make the “war on women” a centerpiece of her presidential campaign. Liberals believe they can use social issues to bludgeon conservatives into submission and then defeat. There’s no question that in some cultural areas,

Hillary Clinton’s Campaign and the Coming Culture Wars

According to media reports, on Sunday Hillary Clinton will announce she is running for president. That hardly comes as a surprise, and for Republicans, it’s not anything to fear.  Mrs. Clinton is hardly a formidable candidate. She showed that in 2008, and she’ll show it again this year and next. Mrs. Clinton’s husband is a man

Why Evangelicals Should Love the Pope

On Easter Sunday, Christians celebrate an event that inspires more than two billion of the faithful with eternal hope. Jesus spoke often about the life to come. Yet he also spoke about God’s will being done here on Earth. How best to live out one’s faith in this world has been a complicated issue throughout

Politics in an Age of Epic Transition

“For only the third time since the founding of the United States we are in the early or transition phase of a new era in American and global history,” according to University of Virginia historian Philip Zelikow. He adds, “from the narrower point of view of economic and social history, however, we are in the

Conservatives and the Need for an Appealing Governing Philosophy

In the most recent Gallup survey, Americans named the government (18 percent) as the most important U.S. problem, a distinction it has had for the past four months. After that comes the economy in general (11 percent), followed by unemployment/jobs (10 percent), and immigration/illegal aliens (seven percent). We also learned that Americans’ confidence in all three

Government Is Not The Enemy

During the Obama presidency, the national debt has nearly doubled, federal spending as a percentage of the gross domestic product reached a post-World War II record, and the federal government extended its reach in health care, higher education, corporate governance, the energy sector and much else. President Obama inherited a financial crisis that his defenders insist

God, Our Rights, and the Modern Liberal Mind

In a recent interview, Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore told CNN anchor Chris Cuomo, “Our rights, contained in the Bill of Rights, do not come from the Constitution, they come from God.” “Our rights do not come from God,” Cuomo replied. “That’s your faith. That’s my faith. But that’s not our country.” (For this portion

Brian Williams, His Fall from Grace, and the Need for Grace

I understand why NBC News suspended its anchor Brian Williams for six months without pay. His offense was serious, the news division’s credibility is hemorrhaging, and the story was growing rather than receding. It was dominating our conversation, to the point that even local and national sports radio programs were devoting time to it. Something

Obama’s Words v. Reality

“This strategy of taking out terrorists who threaten us, while supporting partners on the front lines, is one that we have successfully pursued in Yemen and Somalia for years. And it is consistent with the approach I outlined earlier this year: to use force against anyone who threatens America’s core interests, but to mobilize partners

The Smartest Guy Ever to Be President Isn’t Quite As Smart As He Thinks

Barack Obama is really, really smart. I know, because he told me so during his State of the Union address. Our president is especially smart on foreign policy. I know because Mr. Obama told me that, too. “I believe in a smarter kind of American leadership,” the president said. “We lead best when … we don’t

Needed: A Republican Agenda for the Middle Class

According to White House senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer, “middle-class economics” will be the “core theme” of President Obama’s State of the Union speech this evening. Mr. Pfeiffer, appearing on CBS’s Face the Nation, said, “I think we should have a debate in this country between middle-class economics and trickle-down economics and see if we can

MLK and the American Founding

As we honor Martin Luther King Jr. today, it’s worth recalling that among his great contributions was that King saw great injustice and sought to confront it within the American political tradition. This was very different than the approach taken by, among others, Malcolm X, who declared nonviolence to be the “philosophy of the fool.” Consider what

Conservatives in Name Only

We live in an era of unusual political polarization, but the polarization isn’t simply between the two parties; there are also splits within them. Last week the Republican Party’s divisions were on display, when Speaker of the House John A. Boehner — who helped his party gain its largest majority since the Truman administration —

“What We Have Loved, Others Will Love, and We Will Teach Them How”

One of the public services performed by New York Times columnist David Brooks is his yearly Sidney Awards, named for the 20th century American philosopher Sidney Hook and which goes to the authors of the best magazine essays in a calendar year. Brooks, in his most recent list of recipients, mentioned my Ethics and Public Policy

A Christian Defense Of Israel

I want to build on the thoughtful and timely post by Jonathan Tobin, in which he called attention to the catastrophe that is happening to Christians in the Middle East; why the outcome of the struggle over the region cannot be ignored; and why, in his words, “Christians should never think they could better the

The Mood of America

The Pew Research Center released a new survey that included the following findings: Level of Dissatisfaction Just 26 percent are satisfied with national conditions, while 71 percent are dissatisfied. Forty-nine percent say they think 2015 will be a better year than 2014, while 42 percent think it will be worse. The current ratings are more

Putting the “Torture Report” In Historical and Moral Context

When I worked in the Bush White House and revelations about enhanced interrogation techniques became public, I spoke with several people, both within and outside the administration, to discuss and grapple with its moral implications. (Because of my faith perspective, some of the conversations were placed in an explicitly theological context.) I was uncomfortable with

Suffering Through the Prism of Faith

David A. Skeel, Jr., a widely respected legal scholar, is author of the recent book True Paradox: How Christianity Makes Sense of Our Complex World. It makes the case for the explanatory power of Christianity, and does so in a manner that’s intelligent, honest, appropriately modest and respectful of opposing points of view. The book

The Media’s Irresponsible Ferguson Coverage

There are many things that can be said about the decision by the grand jury not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson and the response to it, including John’s forceful and eloquent post. I would only add that much of the press coverage last night, and throughout this entire episode, was very discouraging. This

Donald Trump’s Hard-Knock Life

I owe Donald Trump an apology. Until now I have viewed him as spoiled, self-indulgent and narcissistic. But I was wrong. There is a side to The Donald heretofore kept secret, hidden in the shadow cast by his modesty. It is a rags-to-riches tale of a young man surmounting seemingly impossible odds and clearing seemingly