Bill Whalen

Virginia Hobbs Carpenter Fellow in Journalism

Bill Whalen, the Virginia Hobbs Carpenter Fellow in Journalism and a Hoover Institution research fellow since 1999, writes and comments on campaigns, elections and governance with an emphasis on California and America’s political landscapes.

Whalen is a columnist for the Sacramento Bee and writes on politics and current events for His commentary can also be seen on the opinion pages of the Wall Street JournalReal Clear Politics, Los Angeles Times and the Fox News’ website.

Whalen has been a guest political analyst on the Fox News Channel, MSNBC and CNN. He’s also a regular guest on the nationally syndicated radio shows hosted by John Batchelor, Larry Kudlow, Lars Larson and the Bay Area’s Michael Krasny.

Whalen has served as a media consultant for California political hopefuls and aspiring policy leaders. His past clients have included former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, former congressman Tom Campbell and former Los Angeles mayor Richard J. Riordan.

Prior to joining the Hoover Institution, Whalen served as chief speechwriter and director of public affairs for former California governor Pete Wilson. In that capacity, he was responsible for the governor's annual State of the State address, as well as other major policy addresses.

Before moving to California, Whalen was a political correspondent for Insight Magazine, the national newsweekly and sister publication of the Washington Times, where he was honored for his profiles and analysis of candidates, campaigns, Congress, and the White House. During those years, Whalen also appeared frequently on C-SPAN, National Public Radio, and CNBC.

In addition to his time in Washington as a political journalist, Whalen served as a speechwriter for the Bush-Quayle reelection campaign and was a senior associate with the public relations firm Robinson-Lake/Sawyer-Miller, offering media and political advice for domestic and foreign clientele.

Whalen currently resides in Palo Alto, California.

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Recent Commentary


“Forgetting What You Said Two Minutes Ago?” -- Bill Whalen On Biden And Harris

interview with Bill Whalenvia The John Batchelor Show
Thursday, September 19, 2019

Hoover Institution fellow Bill Whalen discusses his Forbes article "Democrats Learn The Hard Way: Not All Biden Attacks Cut The Same."

Analysis and Commentary

Democrats Learn The Hard Way: Not All Biden Attacks Cut The Same

by Bill Whalenvia Forbes
Sunday, September 15, 2019

In politics, there are three directions to punch – upward (at someone ahead in the polls), downward (at someone trailing) and straight across (at a peer occupying the same space).


Houston, They Have A Problem

by Bill Whalen mentioning Condoleezza Ricevia Forbes
Friday, September 13, 2019

About that headline: it’s a variation of a line from the 1995 film Apollo 13 (astronaut Jim Lovell, played by Tom Hanks, informing NASA’s mission control about his crippled spacecraft: “Houston, we have a problem”). In real life, those words weren’t uttered.

PoliticsAnalysis and Commentary

The California Legislature’s Approach To #MeToo: Better You Than Us

by Bill Whalenvia California on Your Mind
Thursday, September 12, 2019

Come the time President Trump faces the electorate next year, he’ll have some explaining to do for promises unmet—for openers, not cancelling all funding of “sanctuary” cities, not pushing for congressional term limits, not bringing back waterboarding.

John F. Kennedy

Bill Whalen: The Kennedy Clan Returns To The Hunt For The Senate And Beyond

interview with Bill Whalenvia The John Batchelor Show
Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Hoover Institution fellow Bill Whalen discusses Forbes article "The Torch Has Been Passed . . . But Can A Fourth Generation Of Aspiring Kennedys Run With It?"

ohn Bolton served in the administrations of Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush in the departments of State and Justice.
In the News

Trump Fires Bolton As National Security Adviser

quoting Bill Whalenvia Las Vegas Review Journal
Tuesday, September 10, 2019

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump has fired National Security Adviser John Bolton, saying he and others in the administration disagreed with Bolton’s recommendations.

Analysis and Commentary

Of Primary Concern: Having Trump Face His Republican Challengers

by Bill Whalenvia Forbes
Tuesday, September 10, 2019

I’ll admit to a guilty pleasure: watching episodes of Shaqtin’ A Fool, a weekly cable television segment (featuring Shaquille O’Neal, it’s play on the phrase “actin’ a fool) that showcases off-beat and oddball moments in the National Basketball Association.

Analysis and Commentary

Ten Debating Democrats Giving It The Old College Try

by Bill Whalenvia Real Clear Politics
Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Credit the folks at ABC News’ political division: They managed to convince their network’s executives to set aside three hours of prime time for Thursday night’s Democratic presidential debate in Houston.

John F. Kennedy
Analysis and Commentary

The Torch Has Been Passed . . . But Can A Fourth Generation Of Aspiring Kennedys Run With It?

by Bill Whalenvia Forbes
Thursday, September 5, 2019

Try this for unusual: the most intriguing U.S. Senate race in 2020 may have nothing to do with the balance of power in the chamber. I’m referring to next year’s Democratic primary in Massachusetts, where the incumbent Sen. Ed Markey may find himself fending off a challenge from Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy.


Proposition 13 Revisited: Is California Looking At Howard’s (Jarvis) End In 2020?

by Bill Whalenvia California on Your Mind
Thursday, September 5, 2019

Here are three clichés that surface in California policy discussions:

Cliché no. 1: The notion of the Golden State as a “nation-state.” It’s a valid descriptor given that California has a population (nearly 40 million residents) that’s larger than all but 35 countries (California would fall between Sudan and Iraq), the fifth largest economy in the world (ahead of India’s and behind Germany’s), plus remarkable diversity (92 languages other than English are spoken in the Los Angeles public school system).