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

Analysis and Commentary

Speaking Of Beltway Institutions: Trump's Disdain For Washington

by Bill Whalenvia Forbes
Sunday, April 7, 2019

One thing President Trump can be: stubborn. Three springs into his presidency, Trump has shown little interest in the lifeblood of the nation’s capital, other than quick spins over to the Trump International Hotel for private dinners with family and friends.

In the News

Democrats Rethink The Death Penalty, And Its Politics

quoting Bill Whalenvia The New York Times
Sunday, April 7, 2019

By signing an executive order, Gov. Gavin Newsom of California recently ended the threat of execution as long as he is in office for the 737 inmates on the state’s death row, the largest in the Western Hemisphere.

Analysis and Commentary

Will Newsom’s “Inspirational Framework” Include More Taxes And Regulations?

by Bill Whalenvia The Sacramento Bee
Friday, April 5, 2019

In the neighborhood of America’s blue states, California is more than keeping up with the Joneses. Three years ago, voters in America’s nation-state legalized recreational marijuana. In New York, a legislative push to do the same as part of a bigger state budget deal just went up in smoke (it might pass this summer when it’s a standalone vote).

Analysis and Commentary

The Book On Running For President Has A New Chapter -- Deemphasizing Empathy

by Bill Whalenvia Forbes
Thursday, April 4, 2019
The Democratic presidential field grew by one on Thursday, with Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan announcing that he’ll formally enter the fray this weekend at a campaign rally in Youngstown.
PoliticsAnalysis and Commentary

California’s Primary Color: Green . . . With Envy

by Bill Whalenvia California on Your Mind
Thursday, April 4, 2019

Among the more curious comments of late by a California politician is the recent assessment of next year’s Democratic presidential primary in the Golden State, courtesy of Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti.

In the News

Trump’s Border Closure Threat Roils Immigration Debate

quoting Bill Whalenvia Las Vegas Review Journal
Wednesday, April 3, 2019

As the number of migrants apprehended at the Southwest border hits 100,000 per month, President Donald Trump once again is playing a game of high-stakes brinksmanship as he threatens to shut down the border, or parts of it.


Bill Whalen: Joe Biden Is Out Of Touch With The Democratic Party He Helped Shape

interview with Bill Whalenvia The John Batchelor Show
Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Hoover Institution fellow Bill Whalen discusses his Forbes article "What Joe Biden's Hands Say About His Grip On The Democratic Field."

Analysis and Commentary

What Joe Biden's Hands Say About His Grip On The Democratic Field

by Bill Whalenvia Forbes
Monday, April 1, 2019

I’m watching what’s transpired in the world of Joe Biden over the past 72 hours – ever since a former Democratic candidate in Nevada publicly asked: “why is the vice-president of the United States touching me?” – and two thoughts come to mind. One is: different campaign, different set of standards. The other: welcome, Mr. Vice President, to your party’s Unwelcome Wagon. Let’s start with the concept of changing standards.

In the News

‘This Is Trump’s Party’: Republicans Eager To Knock Back 2020 Challengers

quoting Bill Whalenvia The Guardian
Saturday, March 30, 2019

Republican National Committee is said to be taking extra steps to discourage “#NeverTrump” movement ahead of primary election.

Analysis and Commentary

Can Democrats Party Like It's 2007? Not If They Can't Let Go Of What Happened In 2016

by Bill Whalenvia Forbes
Thursday, March 28, 2019
The headline on the home page of The Drudge Report, from earlier this week, neatly summed up the situation: “What Next?”