Ambition. That's what Hamilton: An American Musical is really all about.  It's the story of Alexander Hamilton, one of our famous Founding Fathers. He was the first Secretary of the Treasury. His picture is on the ten dollar bill.  He was brilliant. The musical is easily the best musical or play I have ever seen, and along with the Super Bowl, is the only mega-hyped event that can actually live up to it. Hamilton actually is better than the hype, if that's possible. After months of waiting, my wife and I finally got to see it this week in Chicago. "My Shot" is one of the first songs in the play and ...

When Donald Trump abruptly fired FBI director James Comey this week, a good part of America was disturbed. Is Trump hiding something? Is Comey a “showboat?” Should presidents under investigation even be able to fire the head investigator? Americans of all kinds have been put off balance by the people in D.C. lately. Why? Because we don't trust any of them. I spent thirteen years working for the government. Never during that time did I need to work very hard to convince people of the old adage that “we are with the government and we are here to help you.” I am ...

I know a large number of active and dedicated Republicans. Many of these people also happen to be educated, thoughtful and intelligent. They know things about American history. They know things like the reasons for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. They know things like how a bill becomes a law. Like I said, these people are smart. Too often partisan differences get defined by one side, or the other or both as the problem being those stupid people in the opposition. Republicans have gotten comfortable calling many in the Democrat party the “intellectual elite.” I am intellectual enough to understand what they mean when they ...

What will it take for someone to invite me to give a commencement speech? Commencement speeches are the best. I make a valiant effort to impart life’s wisdom on the public in this column each week. Surely after years of my toiling, there is a school out there that can use my kind of inspiration. I fear that by the time I get that elusive invite, I will have run out of useful things to say. This week's column is being written on location in Oregon. I am here for my niece’s college graduation. She obviously doesn't need a special occasion to ...

I finished a series of projects this week, as did a number of my friends. We all work in the Indiana Statehouse in varying roles, and the legislative session just concluded. The Statehouse is a unique place during the session, especially at the end. The interested parties in negotiations for the final versions of legislation can often make the rooms crowded. They include legislators, lobbyists, advocates, agencies, media, and occasionally even a member of the public or two. It is important to note that every single person in these crowded rooms defines success differently. I believe this means that the winners are ...

Oh Me! Oh Life! is one of Walt Whitman’s classic poems about one of life’s most commonly recurring questions: why are we here? Public officials often ask themselves this question in a more limited scope, and often out of exhaustion or frustration. Public service can be a draining experience and is not always as rewarding as the servants often wish. An accomplishment in public service that can be labeled a “legacy” however, usually makes the service worthwhile. Legacies are historic. They matter. They proudly answer Whitman’s question and often with eternal tones. My wife and I were in California last month and were ...

Who among us does not have some experience, in some way, with addiction? For the few Americans who can raise their hand to that question, my best advice is to count your blessings today and to not bet on that winning streak continuing tomorrow. I bought an important book last year, then actively avoided reading it. I didn't want to read it. I knew the ending already and I knew it was sad. But much like life, the journey itself is what makes this book remarkable. Dreamland is a book written by journalist and award winning author, Sam Quinones. If any story ...

It's the beginning of Spring. It's a golfer’s New Year. It's Masters week. As we end one of our nation’s most popular and prestigious sporting events with the Final Four, we begin another one that also is “a tradition like no other.” The Masters is a strange event. And Augusta National Golf Club is a strange place. The list of stories connected to them seems infinite. Like anyone raised as a golfer, by a golfer, I have a few of my own. My dad loved The Masters like no other sporting event. He was an athlete as a young man, a four sport ...

Legislative strategy is not rocket science. But do me a favor and keep that between us since that's what I do for a living. Editorial writing doesn't pay like it used to. For those of you who have never been involved with a legislative initiative, let's cover the basics. First, getting a bill passed is wildly more difficult than defeating one. The difficulty rises exponentially as the reach of the new policy grows. For example, changing the length of time a dog license is effective is a pretty light lift. Conversely, allowing Sunday alcohol sales in Indiana is apparently impossible. This is ...

During WWII, Winston Churchill was asked to cut funding for the arts. He replied, “then what are we fighting for?” Our president has proposed his first budget that features many things worthy of attack. In fact, his first proposed budget almost seems like a wartime suggestion in that it invests only in military and homeland security related items while cutting or eliminating everything else. If we didn't know better, the interpretation of this budget could be that Trump has no constituency at all. He could not have successfully campaigned on this proposal in a rational America. But there I go again, thinking ...