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Ashbrook E-Mail Update hosted by World Observer
April 21, 2006

In This Edition: Review of Recent News and Commentary | Other Ashbrook Web Sites | Recent Ashbrook Publications | Book of the Week | Upcoming Events | Ashbrook Podcasts | RealAudio Archive | Donate to the Ashbrook Center

Ashbrook Colloquium on CSPAN2's BookTV

On March 24, Matthew Spalding, Director of the B. Kenneth Simon Center for American Studies at The Heritage Foundation, was at the Ashbrook Center giving a lecture on The Heritage Guide to the Constitution, a book that he co-edited with David Forte and Edwin Meese. C-SPAN was there to tape the event and it will be broadcast this Sunday, April 23 at 4:50am EST on C-SPAN2.

Written constitutionalism implies that those who make, interpret and enforce the law ought to be guided by the original meaning of the supreme law of the land, the United States Constitution. This view came to be seriously eroded over the course of the last century with the rise of the theory of the Constitution as a "living document" with no fixed meaning, subject to changing interpretations according to the spirit of the times. Having been revived in the 1980s, the argument between these approaches is now being voiced in our on-going public debate about the role of judges and the judiciary in American politics. How important is the Constitution in that debate? How is it to be interpreted and understood? Should those who apply the law be bound by the original meaning of the Constitution? How can that meaning be determined?

Review of Recent News and Commentary

This Week's Podcast

For this week’s podcast, I spoke to Ashbrook Adjunct Fellow Steven Hayward. We had a great conversation about a wide variety of things from Al Gore’s movie to Bush’s new chief of staff to Republican prospects for the 2006 election. I hope you enjoy it.
Posted by Peter W. Schramm

Isabella Instead of Lunch

I was to have a lunch meeting earlier this week with a student over an interesting topic on Nietzsche, but she was to have sent me a draft of the paper before the meeting. She didn’t, so she cancelled the meeting, with the following smart note, revealing that she does understand something very deep about Nietzsche:

I will write my paper and send it to you in the very near future (I hope). I know that I am not doing this the way that you want but this is how life works. Nietzsche would say that it’s something like a woman, something about always changing the way that things should be. Men should be used to it by now. I like his outlook, I think he was on to something.
So what do you do when you have an hour and a half free on a sunny day in central Ohio? Eat lunch? No. Because beauty is a witch, you ride your bike. So I did. A perfect day for it, on the Old Lincoln Highway as Isabella is dancing on the road, a trucker gives me a thumbs up and then hails me to pull over. Never argue with a trucker, so I obey. The fat man comes waddling up to me, apologizing: "Never done that before, Buddy, sorry. Just couldn’t resist. I had to see her up close. That is the prettiest bike I’ve ever seen." I had my Lincoln class that night, talking about the Gettysburg Address. It seemed anti-climactic after this lunch ride.
Posted by Peter W. Schramm

Soft Hearts and Hard Heads in the Immigration Debate

Peggy Noonan hits the nail squarely on the head with this article on the question of immigration in America. She says she loves immigrants and wants to kiss their hands. So do I. She says she especially loves Mexican and other Hispanic immigrants because they are Catholic (as she is and I am) and love Jesus and Mary. I love that she says that and does not blush in the saying of it. Of course we love those who are like us. It would be weird if we didn’t. Of course we love those who, in coming here, are saying that our country is doing something right—that it is better than their old country. And, if we are not ungrateful, we remember those in our own family who made the journey and the sacrifice that made us Americans in fact and not just in nature. Immigrants can be the best teachers for spoiled, forgetful, unappreciative Americans who think our liberty is a given and that life owes them something more than a chance. But while Noonan is inclined to be sympathetic, she is also suspicious and disapproving of recent developments among immigrants and their American defenders. The closing paragraph is essential (but, as they say, read the whole thing…):

I think open-borders proponents are, simply, wrong. I think those who call good people like members of the voluntary border patrols "yahoos" are snobs. I think those whose primary concern is preserving the Hispanic vote for the Democratic Party, or not losing the Hispanic vote for the Republican Party, are being cynical, selfish, and stupid, too. It’s not all about who gets what vote, it’s about continuing a system of laws that has allowed America to become, among many other things, a place immigrants want to come to. And it’s about admitting immigrants in a coherent, orderly, legal manner, with an eye first to what America needs. That’s how you continue a good thing, which is what we’ve had. That’s how you leave Americans who’ve been here for a while grateful for immigration, and immigrants, and loving them, and even wanting, sometimes, to kiss their hands.

This is, it seems to me, exactly the tone that the debate should take and I think that was Noonan’s purpose in writing it. If only those smart guys with harder heads than mine (or Noonan’s) would adopt this tone in making their arguments I think the debate would be easily won for our side.
Posted by Julie Ponzi

Dionne on Rove and the Electoral Landscape

E.J. Dionne. Jr. notes that survival is the only item left on the Bush Administration’s agenda this year. In passing, he notes that there used to be big ideas on the agenda:

What’s intriguing about the shift in the direction of Rove’s energies is that it marks a turn from the high politics of a partisan realignment driven by ideas and policies to the more mundane politics of eking out votes, seat by seat and state by state. Most of Rove’s grander dreams have died as the president’s poll numbers have come crashing down.
He concedes, in other words, that proposals like social security reform and the "ownership society" were serious and hence serious threats to Democratic political interests. What did the Democrats have to offer in response? Anything equally substantive and serious?

Dionne concludes:

Rove’s new electoral focus is an urgent administration priority. And given the unfavorable political terrain for the president, Rove’s recipe this year, as in 2004, is likely to include a heavy dollop of attacks on the Democrats. Hold on for the new Swift Boaters, coming soon to your swing state. It’s not the politics dreams are made of, but it often works.
It seems to me that high-minded debates on policy haven’t been part of the Democratic playbook this year or in the recent past. But of course, Dionne only calls our attention to what might happen when Republicans can be blamed.

Posted by Joseph Knippenberg

We Need Immigrants

At NRO, Ben Wattenberg reminds us that the best reason to support immigration isn’t cheap labor.

There’s nothing wrong with Mexican immigrants. My favorite stats come from the Defense Department, which has data on most everything except who will win the war. They calculate that Mexican-American GIs have been awarded proportionately more Congressional Medals of Honor than any other sub-group in the American military.

Immigrants are our best publicists. They fly home on cheap flights, they e-mail home, they use their cell phones to say America is O.K., and then some. They send home "remittances" to their families, the best form of foreign aid. Immigrants have an average age of 29. They will pay into Social Security and Medicare for 40 years before getting a nickel back. This, we want to encourage!

Posted by John Moser

Blackwell's Source of Support

A study just out says this: "Attorney General Jim Petro received 46 times more Republican Party contributions in 2005 than rival Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell." This is entirely to Blackwell’s advantage: "Blackwell’s $2.7 million in donations collected through the end of last year included about 14,000 donations of less than $200, and only $9,875 from partisan committees. By contrast, Petro reported only 1,819 citizen donations under $200 and more than $467,000 in partisan contributions in the $2.4 million he has raised." This shows Blackwell’s support to be both deep and broad, and reveals Petro to be the more or less "official" GOP candidate for governor, and that is entirely to his disadvantage.
Posted by Peter W. Schramm

Portman to White House, Says Decider

President Bush has nominated Rob Portman to be White House budget director. Also note this from Bush, on Rummy: "I hear the voices and I read the front page and I know the speculation. But I’m the decider and I decide what’s best. And what’s best is for Don Rumsfeld to remain as the secretary of defense."
Posted by Peter W. Schramm

Legalized Theft of Property

George F. Will on "Legal Theft in Norwood." A very good read.
Posted by Peter W. Schramm

Good Map

This is a useful map of key Senate, House, and Governor races.
Posted by Peter W. Schramm

Ramirez Cartoon

Posted by Peter W. Schramm

More on Iran

A great place to begin to understand the problem facing us with Iran is this symposium that appears in the new issue of The Claremont Review of Books. Newly posted and available on the net, the symposium includes commentary from Victor Davis Hanson, Mark Helprin, Angelo Codevilla, and many others. Of course, you should still subscribe and thereby profit from all the amazing contributions this journal offers to Western Civilization…
Posted by Julie Ponzi

Good Question

Anne Applebaum asks it:

There’s a lot of earnest, even bipartisan talk nowadays about the need for clean, emissions-free energy. But are we really ready, politically, to build any new energy sources at all?
Read the whole thing.
Posted by Joseph Knippenberg

Kevin Phillips on Theocracy

This week’s The American Enterprise Online column is devoted to a critique of the "theocracy" section of Kevin Phillips’ American Theocracy. The short of it is that Phillips doesn’t like and doesn’t understand conservative evangelicals, and that he doesn’t like, and has some contempt for, the South. That it’s #3 on the NYT hardcover nonfiction bestseller list is unfortunate, for it "disenlightens," more than it enlightens, about this part of its subject.
Posted by Joseph Knippenberg

Win a Trip with George Will?

Michael Kinsley imagines other contests like the New York Times’ "Win a Trip with Nick Kristof." My favorite:

The Washington Post has chosen, so far, not to subject its columnists to this kind of embarrassment. But how long can it hold out? I’m psyched for "Win a Trip With George Will." Finally admitting his uncanny resemblance to Mr. Peabody, the scholarly time-traveling dog on the "Rocky and Bullwinkle" cartoon show, George takes a lucky companion back to the 18th century, where they will explain the original meaning of the Declaration of Independence to its signers.
The others are funny too.
Posted by Joseph Knippenberg

Recent Ashbrook Publications

An Honest Account
by Mackubin T. Owens (Book Review)

Cobra II is a detailed, impeccably sourced book that provides a comprehensive view of the debates that informed both the strategy and operational art of the war in Iraq. It is also a balanced account—although the authors do not shrink from making judgments about the decisions that the players made. Needless to say, not everyone will agree with all of their conclusions. MORE

Publications Archive

Book of the Week

Nature and History in American Political Development: A Debate by James W. Ceaser

Book of the Week Archive

Ashbrook Podcasts

What's a podcast?

RealAudio Archive

This week's feature:

Lamar Alexander on Teaching American History
Major Issues Lecture Series
March 23, 2006

Visit our archive of on-line speeches at:

Other Ashbrook Center Web Sites

No Left Turns: The Ashbrook Center Blog
Features daily commentary on recent news by Peter Schramm, Robert Alt, Steven Hayward, Joseph Knippenberg, Julie Ponzi and other Ashbrook Center Adjunct Fellows.
Our web site for social studies teachers and students, featuring an extensive document library, information on our seminars and summer institutes for social studies tecahers, and an audio archive of previous teacher seminars.
A web site to accompany our Presidential Academy program which will lead selected secondary social studies teachers in a careful study of the pivotal turning points in American history memorialized by the Declaration of Independence, the Gettysburg Address, and the "I Have a Dream" speech.
Our web site to accompany Thomas G. West's fine book defending the American founders' views and actions on slavery, women's rights, property rights, voting rights, and other controversial issues.

Donate to the Ashbrook Center

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