Politics Is Madison
As in James, Founder


LOPEZ: What might Madison make of our modern-day sports-score-like political poll-taking and -watching?

BROOKHISER: He would master it, and excel at it.

LOPEZ: Is there one politician in America today who is most in particular need of your book?

BROOKHISER: Rick Perry and David Axelrod — it’s not just meeting and greeting, you gotta think too, pal.

LOPEZ: What might the father of politics think of his invention today?

BROOKHISER: The country has stayed in one piece, stretches to the Pacific Ocean, and keeps the electoral schedule laid down in the Constitution. I think he would be somewhat pleased.


LOPEZ: What might Madison say to the Tea Party about the Constitution and their constitutional talk?

BROOKHISER: Madison wrote that if “national sentiment” attached to the Bill of Rights, it would “counteract the impulses of interest and passion.” He would approve of taking the Constitution seriously and recurring to its words, whatever he might think of this or that issue.

What might Madison think about Barack Obama?

BROOKHISER: Jefferson’s vices, without the charm.

Does it help to be married to a psychotherapist when writing about some of these Founders?

BROOKHISER: My wife, Jeanne Safer, is particularly good at helping me interpret their silences.

LOPEZ: I’ve always wanted book dedications to get a little profile of their own: What would you like a Rick Brookhiser reader/fan to know about Bert and Nina Smiley?

BROOKHISER: Like Madison, Bert and Nina Smiley are Princetonians; like him, they are devoted friends. Like me, they have a place upstate (look up Mohonk Mountain House).

— Kathryn Jean Lopez is editor-at-large of National Review Online.