Tuesday, January 18

HARRY V. JAFFA OF THE CLAREMONT INSTITUTE

The Big Trunk over at Powerline observes of Harry V. Jaffa of the Claremont Institute that everything I think I know about American politics I have learned from studying the works of Professor Harry V. Jaffa and his students at the Claremont Institute.

That's quite an endorsement given The Big Trunk's (Scott W. Johnson's) political acumen, but not in the least surprising to me, as Harry V. Jaffa was Professor of Political Philosophy when I attended what was then called Claremont Men's College (since re-named Claremont McKenna College) in Claremont, California. Jaffa was an icon then and his reputation has soared since. He's a disciple of Leo Strauss and a highly-regarded, influential scholar in his own right.

On my own blog, you'll see links to some of Jaffa's essays in the far right column under the heading Terra Firma, which itself gives you an indication of my respect for Professor Jaffa's erudition. You should know, if you do not already, that Jaffa is regarded as among the preeminent Lincoln scholars in America and his prose oftentimes echoes the phrasing and rhythms of Lincoln's own hand. In my "profile," you'll see that I cite as among my favorite books Dr. Jaffa's A New Dawn of Freedom, which I heartily recommend to students of American history, the Civil War era, Abraham Lincoln, and the founding principals of this country.

I should add that Harry Jaffa played an important role in the presidential campaign of Barry Goldwater and indeed in the genesis of a strong conservative movement in this country. Its antecedents are in much of Jaffa's teachings and scholarship.

Little known is that he wrote the most memorable words in Goldwater's presidential nomination acceptance speech at the 1964 Republican National Convention:

"I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue." (San Francisco, July 16, 1964)