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 writes on politics and current events for His commentary can also be seen on the opinion pages of the The Washington Post and Real Clear Politics, as well as Hoover’s “California On Your Mind” web channel.

Whalen hosts Hoover’s “Area 45” podcast on politics and policy in the age of the Trump presidency and he serves as one of the moderators of Hoover’s “GoodFellows” broadcast on the social, economic and geopolitical consequences of the coronavirus pandemic.

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 and Lars Larson.

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.

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

FeaturedBlank Section (Placeholder)

California Has A Sacred Contract With Its People. The Coronavirus Just Put It Into Breach.

by Bill Whalenvia The Washington Post
Monday, March 30, 2020

Silicon Valley is used to being a few steps ahead, and Covid-19 is no exception. The six counties around San Francisco Bay have been under a “shelter in place” order since March 16, three days before the rest of California and ahead of the rest of the United States. 

Analysis and Commentary

How Does Biden Avoid The Bernie (Von) Trap?

by Bill Whalenvia Forbes
Monday, March 30, 2020

Sequestered as he is in his Wilmington, Delaware, basement, maybe Joe Biden dreams of a cinematic break-out once the COVID-19 outbreak subsides – a sweeping helicopter shot, perhaps, of the Democratic nominee-in-waiting basking in the great outdoors, like Julie Andrews in the opening scene of The Sound of Music.

PoliticsBlank Section (Placeholder)Analysis and Commentary

Winners And Losers Amidst A Pandemic

by Bill Whalenvia California on Your Mind
Thursday, March 26, 2020

As we California shut-ins figure how to avoid coming down with cabin fever while hunkering down against COVID-19, fear not for Gov. Gavin Newsom. He’s on the job—and very much in the public spotlight with constant media briefings on the Golden State’s efforts to combat and contain a spreading pandemic.

Analysis and Commentary

Trump, Newsom And The Ties That Bind

by Bill Whalenvia Real Clear Politics
Thursday, March 26, 2020

To understand the complicated relationship between President Trump and California Gov. Gavin Newsom, try watching “The Defiant Ones,” a 1958 film starring Tony Curtis and Sydney Poitier. The plot line: Two inmates, one black and one white, are on the loose. But there’s a catch. They’re shackled together and, in order to elude the authorities, must learn to set aside their mutual animosity and work in tandem.


Bill Whalen On The John Batchelor Show

interview with Bill Whalenvia The John Batchelor Show
Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Hoover Institution fellow Bill Whalen discusses Forbes article "Houston, We Have A (Convention) Problem . . . In Milwaukee."

Analysis and CommentaryPoliticsBlank Section (Placeholder)

Houston, We Have A (Convention) Problem . . . In Milwaukee

by Bill Whalenvia Forbes
Saturday, March 21, 2020

Contrary to appearances (and a lack of candidates appearing on television these days), the 2020 campaign didn’t shelter in place, though time will tell if and when presidential politics returns to full throttle.

PoliticsAnalysis and Commentary

So Much For “The Luck Of The Irish” This Week, But What Of The Luck Of California’s Governor?

by Bill Whalenvia California on Your Mind
Thursday, March 19, 2020

Maybe you dressed in green, imbibed Guinness, and feasted on corned beef and cabbage at some point in the past few days. Otherwise Erin Go Bragh was “Erin go bust” in California, what with a raft of St. Patrick’s Day celebrations canceled and bars closed statewide.

InterviewsBlank Section (Placeholder)Politics

Bill Whalen On The John Batchelor Show

interview with Bill Whalenvia The John Batchelor Show
Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Hoover Institution fellow Bill Whalen discusses the Democratic primaries as well as voting during the outbreak of coronavirus.

Analysis and CommentaryPolitics

What If They Held A Debate And No One Came . . . Or Much Cared?

by Bill Whalenvia Forbes
Sunday, March 15, 2020

Ok, so maybe holding a presidential debate amidst the uncertainty of a global pandemic isn’t as tacky as, say, doing a partisan event in the immediate aftermath of the first Kennedy assassination, the Challenger explosion, or the 9/11 attacks. Still, there was something seemingly inappropriate and unbecoming about Sunday night’s meeting of the minds in CNN’s Washington, D.C., bureau (live, but not before a studio audience).

EconomyAnalysis and Commentary

With School Bonds And Parcel Taxes Failing, Has California Overtaxed Taxpayers’ Patience?

by Bill Whalenvia California on Your Mind
Thursday, March 12, 2020

It wasn’t exactly hell freezing over, but a surprise result in last week’s primary did send a chill up California’s political spine.