Past episodes
About Uncommon Knowledge

For more than a decade the Hoover Institution has been producing Uncommon Knowledge with Peter Robinson, a series hosted by Hoover fellow Peter Robinson as an outlet for political leaders, scholars, journalists, and today’s big thinkers to share their views with the world. Guests have included a host of famous figures, including Paul Ryan, Henry Kissinger, Antonin Scalia, Rupert Murdoch, Newt Gingrich, and Christopher Hitchens, along with Hoover fellows such as Condoleezza Rice and George Shultz.

Uncommon Knowledge takes fascinating, accomplished guests, then sits them down with me to talk about the issues of the day,” says Robinson, an author and former speechwriter for President Reagan. “Unhurried, civil, thoughtful, and informed conversation– that’s what we produce. And there isn’t all that much of it around these days.”

The show started life as a television series in 1997 and is now distributed exclusively on the web over a growing network of the largest political websites and channels. To stay tuned for the latest updates on and episodes related to Uncommon Knowledge, follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Uncommon Knowledge by topic: History and Philosophy

August 1, 2012 | Recorded on July 11, 2012

Charles Hill and Fouad Ajami

Charles Hill and Fouad Ajami on Uncommon Knowledge

This week on Uncommon Knowledge Hoover fellows Charles Hill and Fouad Ajami discuss the Middle East: its past, present, and future.
“If you take a look at the authoritarian world of today, the Arab world looks bereft of democratic tradition, but that wasn’t always the case.”

July 18, 2012 | Recorded on June 25, 2012

George W. Bush

George W. Bush

This week on Uncommon Knowledge President George W. Bush discusses postpresidential life and his work at the Bush Institute. (1:03:21)
“I believe we are a blessed nation; that is, therefore, we have a sense of responsibility to the extent we can to help others. In this case there was a pandemic destroying an entire generation of people. And I didn’t see how I could be president of a powerful, the most powerful, and the richest nation and not lend our support to saving lives. It would have been unconscionable not to act. So I thought it was in our moral interest to act. I also knew it was in our national security interest to act.”

July 4, 2012 | Recorded on June 13, 2012

Rick Perry

Rick Perry

This week on Uncommon Knowledge Texas governor Rick Perry discusses the Texas success story, the perils and pitfalls of running for president, and what the rest of the country can learn from Texas. (45:28)
“You keep the taxes as low as you can on those job creators. You have a regulatory climate that is fair and predictable and a legal system that does not allow for oversuing. And then you try to get out of the way and let the private sector do what the private sector does best.”

June 20, 2012 | Recorded on May 29, 2012

Dennis Prager

Dennis Prager

This week on Uncommon Knowledge radio host, columnist, conductor, and best-selling author Dennis Prager discusses his new book, Still the Best Hope: Why the World Needs American Values to Triumph. (48:14)
“Evil is normal. American is abnormal. That’s my view. We have created something here that is unique and remarkable.”

June 6, 2012 | Recorded on May 9, 2012

Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy

Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy discuss their new book The Presidents’ Club.

This week on Uncommon Knowledge Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy discuss their new book The Presidents’ Club: Inside the World’s Most Exclusive Fraternity. (57:04)
“Becoming president in the first place was probably the best decision in the interest of the country. And he probably could’ve done it for life. And so everything Washington did set a precedent for everyone who followed. And the fact that he limited himself to two terms—decided to become an ex-president—was one of the most important precedents.”

May 23, 2012 | Recorded on April 22, 2012

John Stossel

John Stossel

This week on Uncommon Knowledge author and television host John Stossel discusses his new book No, They Can’t: Why Government Fails—but Individuals Succeed. (45:18)
“Market competition is cruel. There are winners and losers. But that is better than the alternative where there are only losers.”

May 9, 2012 | Recorded on March 15, 2012

Thomas Sowell on the second edition of Intellectuals and Society

Thomas Sowell discusses Intellectuals and Society on Uncommon Knowledge.

On the occasion of the publication of a new edition of his book Intellectuals and Society, Thomas Sowell returns to Uncommon Knowledge for a wide-ranging interview. (52:37)
“It gives them a much bigger role in the world. I mean if you believe in free markets, what about all these people who want to have social justice. People just go out there; they make whatever deals they can with each other, work things out and then go on their way. Here is all this unused brilliance standing on the sideline watching with impotent rage.”

April 25, 2012 | Recorded on February 29, 2012

Pat Buchanan on Suicide of a Superpower

Pat Buchanan on Suicide of a Superpower

This week on Uncommon Knowledge, author and commentator Pat Buchanan discusses the disintegration of the United States as a superpower and a united nation.
“Why are you bringing in each year one million people to work in the United States when we have twenty-three million people who are unemployed or underemployed. What are you doing to your own people, black, white, Asian, whatever, by bringing in new workers when you have this enormous unemployment problem. It does not make sense.” (1:00:41)

April 11, 2012 | Recorded on February 29, 2012

Charles Murray on Coming Apart

Charles Murray on Coming Apart

This week, on Uncommon Knowledge, longtime American Enterprise Institute fellow Charles Murray discusses his controversial new book, Coming Apart, about what America was, is, and will become. He also reveals his personal score on his now famous “bubble quiz.” Take the quiz here.
“If you were a guy [in 1963] and you were in your 30s and 40s, you either were working or you were looking for work, or you had better have a really good excuse like being completely, totally, physically incapacitated. If you were not working and not looking for work at that age group, you were a bum. Your parents would tell you that. Your siblings would tell you that. Your wife, if you had one would be appalled at it. That was all very simple then.” (47:35)

March 28, 2012 | Recorded on February 28, 2012

Mitch McConnell

Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell

This week, on Uncommon Knowledge with Peter Robinson, Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell discusses why the glacial pace of deliberations and decisions in the Senate is a feature, not a bug.
“Once it was clear the president was going to try to turn us into a Western European country as rapidly as he could, about the only strategy you have left when your opposition has a forty-seat majority in the House. . . . We knew we couldn’t stop the agenda. But we thought we had a chance of creating a national debate about whether all of this excess was appropriate. And the key to having a debate, frankly and candidly, was to deny the president, if possible, the opportunity to have any of these things be considered bipartisan.” (37:41)