I look forward to a conversation this evening with David Brooks, distinguished political commentator and New York Times columnist at 7 p.m. on the topic “Character and the Presidency.” The event is being hosted by the Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies at the Grand Valley State University in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and will be moderated by Director Gleaves Whitney.

David Brooks argues in his path-breaking book The Road to Character that in a culture that encourages us to think about our jobs and careers, we have become “inarticulate about how to cultivate the inner life.”

The opportunity to spend years in conversation with Abraham Lincoln and Ulysses S. Grant has been fundamentally about character. My approach to biography is what I call from the inside out. Not so much what a person did, who a person is at their core.

In preparation for this evening’s conversation, I reread the conclusion of David McCullough’s marvelous biography, Truman. In his final page, he quotes CBS correspondent Eric Sevareid about Truman, “I am not sure he was right about the atomic bomb, or Korea. But remembering him reminds people what a man in that office ought to be like. It’s character, just character.”

The event is sold out but is being televised by C-Span, to be broadcast later.

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