Should Presidents Follow Expert Military Advice?

The question arises because of widespread allegations that President Donald Trump should be constrained, somehow, to bend his foreign and defense policy to the advice of Generals Mattis, McMaster, and Kelly, with whom he has surrounded himself. The answer transcends current controversies. In 1862-64, the press had styled General George McClellan, “the young

By | 2017-08-17T11:48:12+00:00 August 17th, 2017|

The Anti-Trump Bourbons: Learning and Forgetting Nothing in Time for 2020

Just seven months into Donald Trump’s administration we are already bombarded with political angling and speculations about the 2020 presidential race. No one knows in the next three years what can happen to a volatile Trump presidency or his psychotic enemies, but for now such pronouncements of doom seem amnesiac if not absurd.

By | 2017-08-16T13:42:17+00:00 August 14th, 2017|

The Triumph of “Dunkirk”

PISTOL ….Well, bawd I'll turn, And something lean to cutpurse of quick hand. To England will I steal, and there I'll steal: And patches will I get unto these cudgell'd scars, And swear I got them in the Gallia wars. “Henry V” (v.i.88-92)   In Shakespeare’s “Henry V,” Pistol and his late lamented

By | 2017-08-12T14:19:40+00:00 August 10th, 2017|

The Mournful Nostalgia of the Conservative Intellectual Elite

Writing think pieces filled with a mournful nostalgia for the conservatism of yesteryear seems to be one of the core requirements of being a member of the conservative intellectual elite. Though Yuval Levin has argued that a suffocating nostalgia was the foundation of Trump’s campaign, conservatives like Levin and others eager to write

By | 2017-08-11T14:39:39+00:00 August 9th, 2017|

Jeff Flake’s ‘Conservative Appropriation’ of Barry Goldwater

Insufferable Republican establishmentarian Sen. Jeff Flake, hawking his new Conscience of a Conservative book, has been channeling Jeb Bush on amnesty, unlimited free trade, and “civility” (read: “spineless appeasement of progressives and the media”) on the cable news shows these past couple of days. It’s certainly the junior senator’s right to make a fool

By | 2017-08-07T06:11:26+00:00 August 1st, 2017|

Why is Everyone Suddenly Quoting Thucydides?

Currently, the historian Thucydides is the object of debate among those within the Trump Administration and its critics, who, like scholars of the last three millennia, focus on lots of differing Thucydidean personas. Did Thucydides warn in deterministic fashion about ascendant powers like Athens that disrupt the existing order of Sparta and its

By | 2017-07-30T20:54:24+00:00 July 26th, 2017|

History is Back!

Not since Teddy Roosevelt occupied the Oval Office have students of history featured so prominently in the U.S. government as they do today. National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster holds a Ph.D. in history and is the author of the highly acclaimed Vietnam War history, Dereliction of Duty. Secretary of Defense James Mattis has

By | 2017-07-30T15:38:43+00:00 July 26th, 2017|

Make Rhetoric Great Again

At the university where I teach rhetoric, an organization called the Center for Public Deliberation promotes events where students, faculty and other citizens can discuss issues that are relevant to American democratic life. Among the goals listed on the Center’s website are decreasing political polarization, creating safe spaces for dialogue between “co-creating agents

By | 2017-07-25T13:50:57+00:00 July 20th, 2017|