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: Law

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)

February 17, 2012 | Recorded on February 15, 2012

Uncommon Knowledge special edition: Newt Gingrich

Uncommon Knowledge Special Edition: Newt Gingrich

The 58th Speaker of the House and 2012 GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich makes the case for his candidacy, explains why he's not a Washington insider, and describes his vision for his first term: gaining energy independence, ending the war on religion, balancing the budget, and repealing and replacing ObamaCare and why he is temperamentally suited for the highest office.

January 25, 2012 | Recorded on January 19, 2012

Obamacare and the Supreme Court with Richard Epstein and John Yoo

The law with Epstein and Yoo

Richard Epstein, the Peter and Kirsten Bedford Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution and the Laurence A. Tisch Professor of Law, New York University Law School, and John Yoo, a professor at the University of California at Berkeley law school, examine the merits of various constitutional arguments for the Supreme Court’s striking down Obamacare.

November 14, 2011 | Recorded on October 3, 2011

Paul Rahe: Past Republics and the Constitution

Paul Rahe

Paul Rahe holds the Charles O. Lee and Louise K. Lee Chair in Western Heritage at Hillsdale College and is the author most recently of Soft Despotism, Democracy’s Drift. He discusses past republics, the administrative state, our place in history, and the 2012 election. Recorded live at Hillsdale College, Hillsdale, MI. (50:30)

October 3, 2011 | Recorded on September 27, 2011

Paul Ryan—Fixing Government and Not Running For President

Congressman Paul Ryan

Congressman Paul Ryan discusses, with Hoover research fellow Peter Robinson, the importance of repealing Obamacare.

June 3, 2011 | Recorded on May 17, 2011

Michael Chertoff — Threat Levels

Michael Chertoff is interviewed on Uncommon Knowledge

A former federal prosecutor and federal judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, Michael Chertoff was Secretary of Homeland Security from 2005 to 2009. He is also the founder of the Chertoff Group, a security and risk-management firm, and the author of Homeland Security: Assessing the First Five Years.

October 5, 2009 | Recorded on August 5, 2009

The Law and More with Judge Laurence Silberman

Judge Laurence H. Silberman

In Parker v. the District of Columbia, Judge Silberman wrote the 2007 opinion striking down parts of the District of Columbia’s ban on handguns as unconstitutional.

April 27, 2009 | Recorded on April 23, 2009

The Aussie Way with John Howard

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Prime Minister Howard offers insights into Australia’s own “special relationship” with the United States beginning with why Australia’s participation in the Iraq war was in his nation’s best interest. Echoing parallels with the United States, he offers his views on multiculturalism—which he calls “a very confused credo”—and Australia’s role in the “Anglosphere,” particularly as it relates to China, its largest and most powerful Asian neighbor. He speaks of the current financial crisis and the need to remain confident in the market and the dangers of overregulation. Finally, he answers “What should Americans know about Australia that we don’t?” (39:35 ) Video transcript

March 30, 2009 | Recorded on March 23, 2009

Crisis and the Law with Richard Epstein

Hoover senior fellow Richard Epstein considers the soundness of contracts and the constitutionality of taxing bonuses at a rate of 90 percent.

Considered one if the most influential legal thinkers of modern times, Richard Epstein, the Peter and Kirsten Bedford Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, brings his libertarian views to bear on the current financial crisis—“government incentives were perverse, so the actions of the private parties were perverse”—and rates the performances of George Bush and Barack Obama in their responses to the crisis. He speaks to the importance of contracts and the constitutionality of the “expo facto” taxation on AIG executives and the Employee Free Choice Act embraced by President Obama. Finally he speaks of his personal and professional dealings with Barack Obama when they were law school faculty mates at the University of Chicago. (38:22 ) Video transcript

March 16, 2009 | Recorded on February 23, 2009

Law and Justice with Antonin Scalia

Justice Antonin Scalia discusses the premise of his book, Making Your Case: The Art of Persuading Judges.

The Constitution “is not living, but dead.” With these words Associate Justice Scalia sums up how he believes we should think about the Constitution – a way of thinking that underpins the theory of “originalism” which guides his approach to cases that come before the Supreme Court. In expounding on originalism, Scalia takes the Court to task on past decisions, including Roe v. Wade, and measures just how far the Court can and should go in reversing these mistakes. (37:24 ) Video transcript