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David Keene

David Keene

Editor at Large — David Keene, a trusted adviser to presidents, a longtime champion of personal liberty and one of conservatism’s most respected voices, is the former opinion editor of The Washington Times. An author, columnist and fixture on national television, Mr. Keene has championed conservative causes for more than five decades while offering advice to Republican presidents and countless candidates. He additionally served as chairman of the American Conservative Union and president of the National Rifle Association. He can be reached at

Columns by David Keene

Illustration on thecorruption of the justice system by Alexander Hunter/The Washington Times

DAVID KEENE: Punishing the Obama way

Although the rot has been visible for some time, recent actions by President Obama's Department of Justice and director of national intelligence make it possible to say definitively that the United States we once extolled as a nation of laws and not of men no longer exists. Published November 11, 2015

A Secret Service police officer stands outside El Reno Federal Correctional Institution in El Reno, Okla. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)

DAVID KEENE: When ‘hang ‘em’ all meets ‘free ‘em all’

Political demands for an end to what activists and the media like to call mass incarceration are all the rage these days, but the bipartisan willingness to look at what works and doesn't work in today's broken criminal justice system that has emerged in recent years is being overtaken or hijacked by ideological hucksters who seem more interested in making political statements than in finding real-world solutions to serious problems. Published November 9, 2015

Illustration on John Boehner's long-suffering efforts to reform government by Linas Garsys/The Washington Times

DAVID KEENE: John Boehner’s budget legacy

The House Freedom Caucus and conservative outsiders were ecstatic when House Speaker John Boehner decided to throw in the towel out of frustration and a very real fear that he had become, fairly or not, a symbol to millions of Republican voters of just how bad things are in Washington. Published October 22, 2015

Illustration on the change in House leadership by Alexander Hunter/The Washington Times

DAVID KEENE: House needs articulate leader

The more things change, the more they stay the same. A week or so after Bob Dole resigned his Senate leadership role and Senate seat to run for president in 1996, he joined me and Lyn Nofziger for breakfast. We had all been friends for many years and could be honest with each other. Published October 8, 2015

Peter Hannaford             Photo courtesy Peter

DAVID KEENE: Remembering Peter Hannaford

It was early 1965. Barry Goldwater had lost to Lyndon Johnson the November before in a landslide that prompted the established media to declare the conservative movement dead in its cradle and the Republican establishment turned its attention once again to moderates. Published September 9, 2015

Illustration on the longevity of early presidential favorites by Linas Garsys/The Washington Times

DAVID KEENE: Idea of Donald Trump may be more appealing than reality

Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Bernie Sanders are mining the same vein of popular discontent, drawing big crowds in the process, and drawing early support in spite of rather than because of their positions on issues of interest to most Americans. Published August 26, 2015

President Ronald Reagan meeting with Sen. Richard Schweiker in 1980. Associated Press photo

DAVID KEENE: Remembering Dick Schweiker

Dick Schweiker died over the weekend. The former Pennsylvania senator had been recruited by John Sears, Ronald Reagan's 1976 manager, and Nevada Sen. Paul Laxalt, who chaired Reagan's effort to unseat President Gerald Ford that year as Reagan's running mate. Few of us in the campaign knew the man, but he was, based on his voting record in the Senate, and what everyone said, a "moderate" or even "liberal" senator who didn't seem to many of us a very good fit. Published August 4, 2015

DAVID KEENE: ‘The Algerian’

"The Algerian," an Independent production written, directed and produced by Giovanni Zelko is a film with a message, a compelling story and a talented if unknown cast. In that sense it like most Independent productions or, as they're known in the industry, "Indies." Like their grownup, big budget cousins, some of them are good and some aren't worth watching. Published August 4, 2015

Waste and Mismanagement in Prince George's County Illustration by Greg Groesch/The Washington Times

DAVID KEENE: Big government can never have enough money

Maryland, like Illinois, is famous as an integrity-free zone. Former governors, the heads of various school systems in the state, legislators, county executives and law enforcement officials have ended their careers in federal and state penal institutions for confusing serving the public with serving themselves at the public's expense. Published July 22, 2015

Illustration on the values of "flyover" America by Linas Garsys/The Washington Times

DAVID KEENE: American values in the Midwest

While few admit it, the Washington, D.C. area has about as much in common with the real America as John Phillips Sousa's marches have to do with rap music. We live in a very weird bubble. Virtually everyone has a government job or a job that exists in the private sector only because of the government. We're obsessed with politics and many of us spend hours at our televisions watching Fox, MSNBC, or CSPAN and public television. Published July 20, 2015

Upon announcing his presidential campaign, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker said he would work with Congress to repeal Obamacare if elected in 2016. (Associated Press)

Mike Grebe named to head Scott Walker campaign

Every successful presidential candidate has a political whisperer, the one adviser with the stature to both channel the candidate's message and say "no" when it needs to be said. Published July 13, 2015

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker made clear that he plans to distinguish himself in a crowded field of 15 to 17 candidates by embracing conservative policy prescriptions, regardless of their perceived popularity in the media and polls. (Associated Press)

Scott Walker vows to turn back clock on taxes to Reagan era

NEWSMAKER INTERVIEW: Jumping into a crowded 2016 presidential field, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker vowed Monday to return federal tax rates to their levels under Ronald Reagan, eliminate the sequester cuts restraining Pentagon spending and tackle federal budget deficits by reforming entitlement programs and returning money and power to the states. Published July 13, 2015

Illustration on second thoughts about nation building by Alexander Hunter/The Washington Times

DAVID KEENE: Rand Paul counters GOP’s nation-building mindset

The junior senator from Kentucky drives his colleagues nuts. They don't like Rand Paul or his positions on domestic spying and international adventurism. Arizona's John McCain warns that Mr. Paul would be "the worst possible [Republican presidential] candidate of the 20 or so [who] are running" because of his positions on these issues and he admitted that choosing between his GOP colleague and Hillary Rodham Clinton would be "tough." Mr. McCain's hostility is nothing new; last year his daughter Meghan told a television interviewer that Mr. McCain "hates" Mr. Paul and assumed that the feeling is mutual. Published June 9, 2015

NRA: Debunking the gun control myths with real voter polling

As president of the National Rifle Association during the days following the tragic school shootings in Newtown, Connecticut, I was on the front lines defending Second Amendment rights against President Barack Obama, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and a network of gun control advocates who used that tragedy to promote a gun control agenda that, had it been in place on Dec. 14, 2012, would not have prevented the tragedy. Published May 19, 2015

Illustration on rioting and civil response by Linas Garsys/The Washington Times

DAVID KEENE: Halt Baltimore riots with threat of military force

As Baltimore burned on Monday evening, I was reminded of the riots that swept Baltimore, Washington, D.C., and other cities in the wake of the tragic murder of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968, and of the rioting a year earlier in Cambridge, Maryland, and dozens of other cities around the country. Published April 28, 2015

DAVID KEENE: Hillary Clinton, Jeb Bush are disappointing candidates

The "common wisdom" among politicos these days is that when the smoke clears, next year's presidential election will pit former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush against former first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton. They're both far better known, better financed with a wider network of activist supporters and more national experience than the rest of the wannabes. Published April 6, 2015