David Davenport Addresses Coronado Roundtable On How Public Policy Became War - Coronado Eagle & Journal | Coronado News | Coronado Island News: Coronado City News

David Davenport Addresses Coronado Roundtable On How Public Policy Became War

Font Size:
Default font size
Larger font size

Posted: Friday, October 4, 2019 4:42 pm

Author, research fellow and columnist David Davenport, who co-authored with Gordon Lloyd “How Public Policy Became War” (2019: Hoover Institution Press), addressed the Coronado Roundtable on the book’s topic at its September monthly meeting at the Coronado Public Library. The Coronado resident is a regular columnist for the Washington Examiner, a radio commentator and a former president of Pepperdine University.

Davenport divided his presentation into three parts or acts to demonstrate how presidents used the war metaphor to mobilize public support for programs and policies. Quoting political commentator Fred Barnes who famously said “Things are the way they are because they were the way they were,” the speaker began Act I with Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal, which he characterized as the “Rahm Emmanuel” approach to implementing public policy. It was Emmanuel who said “Never let a crisis go to waste,” and FDR’s crisis was the Great Depression.

Roosevelt said that the nation faced an emergency “equal at least to war” and that he would “launch a great offensive” requiring the “people to act like a well-trained army.” The administrative state began, said Davenport, with FDR, who went on to issue over 3000 executive orders, by far the all-time record even on a per-diem basis.

Act II began with Lyndon B. Johnson’s War on Poverty and the war metaphor for public policy use became popular. It was strong on rhetoric, said Davenport, but not on policy or results. If we fought a war on poverty, even rhetorically, then poverty won because it persists still.

Act III brought so-called wars on crime, on drugs, on pollution and on homelessness, none of which ended in victory or even ended at all. Richard Nixon even doubled down on the war on drugs creating a Czar to lead it. Jimmy Carter declared the fight to save the environment the “moral equivalent of war.” The attack on America on 9/11 brought George W. Bush’s war on terrorism, the end of which is not in sight.

Davenport described the political polarization gripping the country, comparing it to the deliberative model of congressional debate that the founders intended and which worked for most of our history to achieve compromise. He attributed some of the polarization to changing demographics and younger generations, many of whom are somewhat ignorant of civics and history, citing extremely low test scores in those subjects.

David Davenport is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University where he graduated with a BA with distinction in international relations. He received a JD degree from the University of Kanas School of Law. In addition to serving as president of Pepperdine University he was Professor of Law and Public Policy. He was introduced by Roundtable Board Member Dr. Suzanne Popp. Roundtable President Kirk Henry presided at the well-attended event. The Coronado Roundtable presents prominent speakers on a variety of topics at its monthly meetings in the Winn Room of the Coronado Public Library on the fourth Friday of every month except November and December. The November meeting, (including this year’s November meeting) is held on the third Friday. There is no December meeting. Meetings begin at 10 a.m. and the public is cordially invited. Come early and enjoy coffee with your neighbors.

Rules of Conduct

  • 1 Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
  • 2 Don't Threaten or Abuse. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated. AND PLEASE TURN OFF CAPS LOCK.
  • 3 Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
  • 4 Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
  • 5 Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
  • 6 Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.

Welcome to the discussion.