Cato on C-SPAN by David Boaz

Watch for a couple of Cato presentations on C-SPAN this weekend. Saturday morning at 10 a.m. (EDT), senior fellow Dan Mitchell will be talking about tax policy on a panel from the recent Steamboat Institute meeting in Colorado. Then, as soon as that panel is over, switch to Book TV on C-SPAN2 to see the Cato Book Forum on "The Age of Reagan," featuring author Steven Hayward and Cato's William Niskanen, who served for four years on Reagan's Council of Economic Advisers. If you miss the 11:15 showing, you'll have another chance at 3 p.m. Sunday. And if you missed my "Freedom in Crisis" speech on C-SPAN last weekend, you can watch it at your leisure on or

Posted on September 4, 2009  Posted to Cato@Liberty

Presidential Cults by David Boaz

Glenn Greenwald, author of Cato's much-discussed paper on the success of drug decriminalization in Portugal, writes about cults of presidential personality. He notes that Jay Nordlinger of National Review and other conservatives -- not to mention a few libertarians -- have criticized the Obama administration's plan to broadcast a presidential speech into American schools and push teachers to post Obama quotes in their classrooms and encourage students to talk about how President Obama inspires them. Greenwald never actually defends the Obama plan. But he does argue that conservatives have short memories when they say that this is something unique. In particular, he reminds us of the notorious Monica Goodling's questions to job candidates at the George W. Bush Department of Justice, such as "[W]hat is it about George W. Bush that makes you want to serve him?" And also of White House political aide Sara Taylor, who told the Senate Judiciary Committee, "I took an oath to the president, and I take that oath very seriously." Committee chairman Patrick Leahy had to ask her, "Did you mean, perhaps, you took an oath to the Constitution?" Greenwald has a good point. Both the red and blue teams have been far too quick to succumb to a cult of presidential personality. (And really, swooning over Reagan or Obama is sort of understandable. But George W. Bush? You have to wonder if they worked really hard at creating a Bush cult because there wasn't really much there.) But I do see one difference: The Obama administration is trying to push its president-worship onto 50 million captive schoolchildren (not to mention using the NEA to enlist the nation's artists in promoting Obama and his agenda). Goodling was asking people looking for government jobs why they wanted to "serve George W. Bush." Now, sure, they should want to serve the public interest -- and she was asking these questions to people seeking career legal positions as well as to political appointees. Still, it seems a smaller bit of cultishness than going into every public school. Gene Healy wrote about cultishness by both Bush and Obama supporters here.

Posted on September 3, 2009  Posted to Cato@Liberty

Speaking at Cornell by David Boaz

I'll be speaking for the Freedom and Free Societies Program at Cornell University next Thursday, September 10. Details here. I'll also be speaking at Vanderbilt and in Nashville on September 29. Details to come.

Posted on September 3, 2009  Posted to Cato@Liberty

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