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William Bennett: Commentaries

President George H.W. Bush appointed me as the nation's first director of national drug control policy -- or "drug czar" -- in 1989. We took on many big fights, the largest of which was the cocaine epidemic spreading from the jungles of Colombia to the streets of the United States. We conducted an all-out assault on drugs through tough enforcement measures and public education. Contrary to "war on drugs" critics, drug use and addiction dropped across the country.

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Obama's spending problemupdated Thu Jan 10 2013 07:14:07

Second terms, untainted by re-election posturing, often reveal a president's true governing philosophy. In the case of President Obama, two recent revelations have confirmed all we may need to know about his agenda for the next four years.

Damon's film 'Promised Land' overlooks fracking's boon to U.S.updated Wed Jan 02 2013 07:45:02

There are "a lot of scare tactics in play here," Steve Butler, protagonist of the new anti-hydraulic-fracturing film "Promised Land," warns a local politician skeptical of the benefits of hydraulic fracturing. Played by Matt Damon, Butler is an earnest salesman for the energy giant Global Crosspower Solutions, bent on convincing a rural town in Pennsylvania that hydraulic fracturing will save its outdated agrarian economy from collapse.

The case for gun rights is stronger than you thinkupdated Wed Dec 19 2012 07:43:30

On NBC's "Meet the Press" this past Sunday, I was asked how we can make our schools safer and prevent another massacre like Sandy Hook from happening again. I suggested that if one person in the school had been armed and trained to handle a firearm, it might have prevented or minimized the massacre.

A victory for right-to-work laws updated Wed Dec 12 2012 15:16:19

On Tuesday, the state of Michigan, the birthplace of the UAW and the nation's organized labor movement, became the country's 24th right-to-work state. Michigan joins Indiana, which passed right-to-work legislation in February, to become the second right-to-work state in the heavily unionized Midwest.

The looming crisis of student loan debt updated Thu Dec 06 2012 07:53:32

A college degree was once synonymous with academic excellence and workforce readiness. Today, it seems synonymous with debt and underemployment.

Why liberalism will ultimately failupdated Wed Nov 28 2012 07:38:35

With President Obama's re-election, many liberals believe they possess the building blocks of the winning political coalition of the future: college students, single women, gays, secularists, Hispanics, African-Americans and Asian-Americans. Liberals see here not a splintered electorate but key constituencies united by a common agenda of economic and social justice. In previous columns, I have conceded the strength of the Democrats in these quarters.

GOP must avoid the fiscal cliffupdated Wed Nov 21 2012 12:11:08

After much introspection, the GOP faces its first true post-election test: the so-called fiscal cliff. Will House Republicans hold out against President Barack Obama's tax hike demands, or will they be willing to make a deal?

Romney's momentum can help him winupdated Wed Oct 24 2012 15:12:14

All three presidential debates are now in the books and the race to the White House is taking its final shape. Looking back, the first debate was undoubtedly the watershed moment of this campaign and the most powerful inflection point in the race to date.

Why you shouldn't vote for Obamaupdated Thu Sep 27 2012 07:58:21

It has been said that a democratic republic such as ours is a do-it-yourself enterprise. People change the course of this country through conversation, debate and, eventually, consensus. As the 2012 elections near, these debates, particularly the upcoming presidential and vice presidential debates, take center stage.

Chicago teachers' strike is a test for Democratsupdated Thu Sep 13 2012 07:37:55

Before this week, the last time the Chicago Teachers Union went on strike was September 8, 1987. It lasted until October 3, during which officials, teachers and parents clashed in the city's longest teachers strike ever. After it ended, I called the Chicago school system the worst in the country.

Clock ticking to disastrous defense cutsupdated Thu Aug 09 2012 08:29:33

Without action from Washington, on January 2, 2013, the U.S. defense budget will undergo the most dramatic and dangerous cuts in its history.

Aurora heroes: Three who gave their livesupdated Wed Jul 25 2012 16:50:29

Great evil often brings out the best in good men, men like Todd Beamer on Flight 93, Medal of Honor recipient Michael Murphy in Afghanistan and now the Aurora three -- the three young men, each in different parts of theater nine, who gave their lives to protect their girlfriends.

Is Sebastian Thrun's Udacity the future of higher education?updated Thu Jul 05 2012 07:57:17

Educators and policymakers have long dreamed of providing universal, low cost, first-class higher education. Their wish may come true soon thanks to an unlikely source: Silicon Valley.

Health care ruling can help Romneyupdated Fri Jun 29 2012 17:26:56

The Supreme Court's verdict on Obamacare is in. As a tax, the individual mandate stands; as a Commerce Clause regulation, it fails.

A history teacher's brilliant ideaupdated Thu Jun 21 2012 06:48:33

In a typical, unassuming classroom at Rosemount High School in the suburbs of Minneapolis, U.S. history teacher Josh Hoekstra had a very novel idea about how the subject is taught.

Do we need a revolution in higher education? updated Wed Jun 13 2012 11:23:29

In spite of ever rising tuition and ballooning student loan debts, a large majority of students still desire to attend college. Traditional notions are deeply engrained in the public's mind. College is considered the path to a better, higher paying job, the best way to make connections and propel a career, and a status symbol, especially for those who go to elite universities.

Why the Chinese are flocking to U.S. collegesupdated Thu May 31 2012 07:39:41

American higher education is in the cross hairs of a heated national debate over the value and cost of a college degree. Yet in China, our fiercest global economic competitor, the popularity of American colleges and universities might be at an all-time high.

A Navy SEAL's wise advice to graduatesupdated Wed May 23 2012 11:45:13

Each spring, I monitor the list of commencement speakers at our nation's leading colleges and universities. Who is chosen, and who is not, tells us a lot about academia's perception of the most important voices in America.

Pension reform is key to California's budget crisisupdated Wed May 16 2012 09:00:01

Over the past weekend, Gov. Jerry Brown of California took to the safety of YouTube to reveal that the Golden State's budget deficit is now $15.7 billion, far greater than the original $9.2 billion estimate in January.

Obama's 'Life of Julia' is the wrong vision for Americaupdated Wed May 09 2012 08:13:43

Last week, President Obama's campaign launched a fictional storybook ad called, "The Life of Julia." The slide show narrative follows Julia, a cartoon character, from age 3 to age 67 and explains how Obama's policies, from Head Start to Obamacare to mandated contraception coverage to Medicare reform, would provide Julia with a better life than Mitt Romney or Paul Ryan could.

Don't extend low interest rates on student loansupdated Thu May 03 2012 07:51:07

The threat of increasing loan rates on future college students has become the newest political cudgel. It shouldn't be. Lowering interest rates on subsidized student loans does little to address the real problems of higher education: rising tuition costs and diminishing returns.

Chuck Colson fought for the forgottenupdated Wed Apr 25 2012 08:09:11

Chuck Colson was a man in full. The former White House special counsel and Watergate accomplice turned born-again Christian and prison evangelist, reminded us all, through his muscular Christianity and ever-present Marine training, that every life is worth saving, that no man should be left behind.

Are colleges afraid of Peter Thiel?updated Wed Apr 18 2012 08:08:59

Colleges and universities of all types, from for-profits to two-year colleges and Ivy League schools, have been the focus of much debate recently as many students are struggling to meet the ever-growing costs of tuition and student loan debts. But one angle has been subject to less scrutiny: What are colleges and universities providing for the most talented and accomplished students? If something we call higher education isn't the best choice for our highest achieving students, then what is its purpose?

NFL takes good first step to protect playersupdated Tue Apr 10 2012 08:02:54

In the NFL, controlled violence is, and always will be, an essential part of the sport. As fans, we have no problem with coaches telling players to run hard, hit hard and tackle hard, because we know that we can't take that kind of contact and tough physicality out of football.

Hookup culture debases womenupdated Wed Apr 04 2012 07:55:05

In the midst of heated political campaigns and real wars abroad, it is noteworthy that two columnists writing for the most consequential newspaper in the world, The New York Times, took a different tack on Sunday and ended up in the same place: A discussion of sexual nihilism and the modern woman. They are on to something.

Rush to judgment in Trayvon Martin caseupdated Fri Mar 30 2012 09:06:13

At first glance, the death of Trayvon Martin seemed to be a straightforward example of ugly, racial conflict resulting in the killing of an innocent black teenager by a white man, George Zimmerman. But now, as evidence continues to come forward, the facts seem much more complicated and the "obvious truth" premature.

Stop subsidizing soaring college costsupdated Thu Mar 22 2012 14:42:00

The cost of college tuition will continue to rise as long as federal student aid programs continue to increase with little or no accountability.

Stop subsidizing soaring college costsupdated Thu Mar 22 2012 14:42:00

The cost of college tuition will continue to rise as long as federal student aid programs continue to increase with little or no accountability.

Pat Robertson is wrong about marijuanaupdated Wed Mar 14 2012 08:17:30

Evangelical patriarch Rev. Pat Robertson has long been a leader in the conservative movement advocating for a better civil and moral society. But his recent support of marijuana legalization couldn't be more wrongheaded.

Let's teach our students about character updated Tue Mar 06 2012 13:51:28

When the gunman entered Chardon High School cafeteria and opened fire, killing three students and injuring two others, he came face-to-face with assistant football coach Frank Hall.

'Obamacare' should be a GOP rallying cryupdated Wed Feb 22 2012 07:45:14

The Obama administration's breach of religious freedom and freedom of conscience through the Health and Human Services agency's contraception mandate has reignited the national conversation about the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, or "Obamacare."

Legalizing drugs won't prevent abuseupdated Wed Feb 15 2012 07:34:07

On the evening of Whitney Houston's death, renowned recording artist Tony Bennett told the audience of Clive Davis' Beverly Hills party, "First it was Michael Jackson, then it was Amy Winehouse, and now, the magnificent Whitney Houston. I'd like to have every gentleman and lady in this room commit themselves to get our government to legalize drugs -- so they'll have to get it through a doctor, not to some gangsters who just sell it under the table."

The lasting impact of good teachersupdated Wed Jan 11 2012 07:44:35

A good teacher not only improves a child's test scores in the classroom, but also enhances his or her chances to attend college, earn more money and avoid teen pregnancy, according to a new seminal study.

A game changer on Medicare's future?updated Thu Dec 22 2011 08:05:45

The Paul Ryan-Ron Wyden Medicare reform plan is a political game-changer. Amidst heated gridlock in Washington, Rep. Paul Ryan, a conservative budget hawk, and Sen. Ron Wyden, a respected liberal senator, have reached consensus on vital entitlement reform. Medicare is on the track to insolvency; this could be the bipartisan solution.

America the generousupdated Thu Dec 15 2011 08:33:44

As we approach the Christmas and Hanukkah season, we should remember that the American commercial republic, too often criticized for greed and excess, is unparalleled in generosity.

Don't mock Tim Tebowupdated Tue Dec 06 2011 12:02:06

Sports loom large in the public's mind today. From the Penn State and Syracuse scandals to the upcoming BCS Bowl Series and the NFL playoffs, much attention is being paid to our athletes and coaches.

Could conservatives love Gingrich's immigration plan?updated Tue Nov 29 2011 08:28:35

Newt Gingrich's immigration plan could be a breakthrough moment for conservatives. It could be a new kind of signal from conservatives that we are not bound in an absolutist straitjacket when it comes to immigration reform.

Can Gingrich last as front-runner?updated Tue Nov 22 2011 07:57:07

Heading into Tuesday night's CNN debate, co-hosted by the Heritage Foundation and American Enterprise Institute, the revolving GOP presidential field has a new front-runner: Newt Gingrich.

Penn State, college football's biggest crisisupdated Wed Nov 16 2011 16:50:17

College football is in a real institutional identity crisis. The range of reactions to the Penn State scandal, from Penn State University itself to the NCAA to the American people, tells us that we don't know what college football is or what it should be.

Cain must confront sex harassment issueupdated Mon Nov 07 2011 18:47:53

When I became one of Bill Clinton's earliest and chief accusers for the sexual harassment charges against him, two things were eminently true about my motives: (a) I did not become an accuser because Bill Clinton was a Democrat and I was a Republican, I didn't care one whit what the partisan fallout would be; and (b) I spoke out because the charges were plentiful enough and serious enough (I repeat, charges, not facts) to degrade not only all of our politics but all of our country, and because there are certain codes of honor, written and unwritten, for all men, Democrat and Republican. Indeed I wrote a book on this, laying it out, even before we knew the full extent of Bill Clinton's lies.

Men become the target of jokesupdated Thu Nov 03 2011 09:05:01

"That's the second unmanly thing you've done today," is the punch line of the most frequently played Miller Lite ad during NFL games. It ends with the ultimatum, "Man up."

Obama risks Iraq for political expediencyupdated Wed Oct 26 2011 07:44:01

In his first inaugural address in 1953, newly elected President Dwight D. Eisenhower told the American people, "History does not long entrust the care of freedom to the weak or the timid. We must acquire proficiency in defense and display stamina in purpose." This was a fitting and powerful response to the popular noninterventionism current of the 1950s from a five-star general who knew how to win a war.

Republicans want new kind of candidate for 2012updated Tue Oct 18 2011 08:51:46

In presidential elections, as the popular line goes, Democrats fall in love with a candidate and Republicans fall in line. This presidential cycle could be a different story, however. Left with a bad taste in their mouths after 2008, Republican voters are looking for a new breed of candidate. Right now, it's Herman Cain.

Don't judge candidates by their faithupdated Tue Oct 11 2011 07:49:13

The 2012 presidential race has been dominated by one issue: the economy. Americans are desperately looking for a leader who can steer the country into full recovery; anything else is peripheral at this point.

Why men are in troubleupdated Tue Oct 04 2011 08:27:52

For the first time in history, women are better educated, more ambitious and arguably more successful than men.

It's good news that government is stalledupdated Tue Sep 27 2011 08:09:38

There is a popular misconception in politics today that the American political system is broken because Washington can't accomplish anything meaningful. This is not true. The system is working entirely as intended -- bumps, bruises, and all.

Record-low SAT scores a wake-up callupdated Wed Sep 21 2011 08:47:07

Last week, the College Board dealt parents, teachers and the education world a serious blow. According to its latest test results, "SAT reading scores for the high school class of 2011 were the lowest on record, and combined reading and math scores fell to their lowest point since 1995."

Did Rick Perry show his liberal side?updated Tue Sep 13 2011 08:36:01

Monday night's inaugural CNN/Tea Party Debate revealed more about the current Republican presidential field than we've seen in any previous debate. In the same way that the tea party has dramatically changed the course of national politics, this debate could change the course of the presidential race.

Lesson for Obama and GOP rivals: Don't play politics with jobs issueupdated Tue Sep 06 2011 09:44:26

As America returns from Labor Day weekend, not enough Americans are returning to actual labor. With Wednesday night's Republican presidential debate and President Barack Obama preparing to address the nation Thursday with his new economic plan, one thing is on the country's mind: jobs.

Don't celebrate Libya just yetupdated Wed Aug 24 2011 08:28:01

Libya is a mess. It has been a mess for a long time, but as with other states in the Middle East, it was not always so. As Fouad Ajami put it, "Libya was a wealthy country, blessed with abundant oil, but the despot turned it into one of Africa's poorest populations. ...The country was turned into a cruel tyranny, and what wealth existed was the prerogative of the man at the helm and his children."

Why Rick Perry is a strong candidateupdated Thu Aug 18 2011 09:43:57

Texas Gov. Rick Perry's entrance into the 2012 sweepstakes has shaken up both the Republican Party and the media interest in the upcoming election. And, as is his style, Perry entered the race with a bang, not a whimper.

Make-or-break time for GOP presidential fieldupdated Wed Aug 10 2011 08:34:04

We will know a lot more about the GOP field of candidates for president very soon -- shortly after the Ames, Iowa, straw poll this weekend. We'll probably see several dropouts and, at least with Rick Perry, a likely addition to the roster.

Grammy for Winehouse's 'Rehab' a mistake?updated Wed Jul 27 2011 10:22:49

"They tried to make me go to rehab / I said, 'No, no, no.' " --Amy Winehouse, "Rehab"

Media hypocrisy on Murdochupdated Wed Jul 20 2011 08:56:46

It's not a subjective point that most of the mainstream media has not liked media mogul Rupert Murdoch or his News Corp. empire, and for a very long time.

Have the teachers' unions come around?updated Thu Jul 07 2011 13:18:19

The vote to endorse President Barack Obama for re-election in 2012 by the nation's largest teachers' union, the National Education Association (NEA), was not exactly a surprise.

Why Barney Frank and Ron Paul are wrong on drug legalizationupdated Thu Jun 30 2011 08:32:38

From certain precincts on the left, notably Barney Frank, to certain precincts on the right, notably the editorial page of National Review, we are witnessing a new push to end the so-called war on drugs and legalize drug use, starting with marijuana. Indeed, Ron Paul, Barney Frank's co-sponsor in the latest legislative effort, said recently he would go so far as to legalize heroin.

GOP's not heading toward isolationismupdated Thu Jun 23 2011 11:14:42

Ever since the CNN Republican presidential debate last week, a great deal of analysis has poured out, from elected officials and analysts, suggesting the GOP is becoming an isolationist party. Two thoughts: 1) If that were the case, that would be wrong and wrongheaded; and 2) It is not the case.

Stop griping about GOP candidatesupdated Tue Jun 14 2011 12:40:42

Up until last night, there had been a lot of grousing about the field of Republican candidates and likely candidates for the 2012 nomination for president. From the cocktail party circuit to the Tea Party meetings, one has heard variations of dissatisfaction with the names in play.

Time for urgent debate on Afghanistanupdated Wed Jun 08 2011 13:54:59

With all of the news and discussion over events from Libya to Syria to Yemen to Pakistan, it has become easy to neglect thinking about our oldest war front, the only war front apart from Iraq where the Congress has actually authorized a campaign: Afghanistan.

To college grads: Love life and workupdated Thu Jun 02 2011 16:32:56

Five years ago, I delivered what I believe was the first national commencement address on radio. Given this season of graduations, I thought I would take this space to offer those thoughts to the audience as well.

'Lock 'em up' not always best solutionupdated Thu May 26 2011 10:24:55

As budget battles in Washington and the states unfold, politicians are striving to achieve the most for their money, pinpointing where they can cut spending without sacrificing service.

Gingrich vs. the GOPupdated Wed May 18 2011 10:42:23

For years, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich was seen as a Republican guiding light. Not only did he show a lot of the party -- and the conservative movement -- how to fight when we were not in the majority (especially in the 1980s and early 1990s), but with his use of language and passion, he showed us how to win majorities.

Gingrich vs. the GOPupdated Wed May 18 2011 09:25:57

For years, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich was seen as a Republican guiding light. Not only did he show a lot of the party -- and the conservative movement -- how to fight when we were not in the majority (especially in the 1980s and early 1990s), but with his use of language and passion, he showed us how to win majorities.

4 reasons to release bin Laden photosupdated Thu May 05 2011 10:58:47

There are several good reasons to release the photographs of Osama bin Laden's body: First, to end the debate in the world of conspiracy theory, one the administration's countervailing story lines have helped fuel.

Terror threat lives beyond bin Laden's deathupdated Mon May 02 2011 15:02:16

Sixty-six years ago on May 1, Americans learned Adolf Hitler was finally dead. On May 1, President Barack Obama announced Osama bin Laden was killed. Until Sunday night, no international figure's death had been so sought since 1945.

Why Panetta, Petraeus are smart choicesupdated Thu Apr 28 2011 13:09:20

As a conservative Republican, I've long been critical of many of President Barack Obama's policies and personnel picks.

We can't tax our way out of budget crisisupdated Fri Apr 22 2011 09:01:01

The debate over tax reform picked up a lot of steam over the past week, ever since President Barack Obama's speech on April 13 at George Washington University.

Trump off to a promising startupdated Wed Apr 13 2011 09:27:12

For the past three months, Donald Trump has been making a lot of news about his possible run for the presidency. It started in February when he spoke at the annual gathering of CPAC.

Obama administration learns lesson on terrorism trialsupdated Wed Apr 06 2011 07:26:01

Making for an odd news day Monday, President Barack Obama announced his re-election bid while his attorney general announced the administration's decision that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and his fellow 9/11 conspirators would now be tried before military commissions in Guantanamo -- just as they were going to be tried before his administration took over.

It's long past time for Gadhafi to goupdated Tue Mar 22 2011 12:21:51

"We ought not to fight them at all unless we determine to fight them forever," wrote John Adams to Thomas Jefferson in 1786. He was writing about whether to take up arms against the Barbary Pirates.