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Norman Ornstein is one of the nation’s most highly regarded political analysts and experts on Congress. He is the co-author of the 2012 book, It's Even Worse Than It Looks, which dissected the inner workings of Congress and made several predictions about the country’s political dynamic, which have since come true.

Ornstein is resident scholar at the conservative think tank American Enterprise Institute and contributing writer to several mainstream publications. His August 2015 piece for The Atlantic, "Maybe this time really is different," made the case that Donald Trump was a serious contender for the Republican presidential nomination at a time when the majority of journalists and political analysts were dismissing his run as a joke and publicity stunt.

Ornstein frequently provides analysis on Congress and policy for programs like The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, Nightline, and Charlie Rose. Passionate about rooting corruption out of the political process, he currently serves at the co-director of the AEI-Brookings Election Reform Project and drafted many segments of the McCain-Feingold Act.

Full Profile

    Norman Ornstein is a long-time observer of Congress and politics. He wrote a weekly column for Roll Call and is an election analyst for CBS News. He serves as codirector of the AEI-Brookings Election Reform Project and participates in AEI′s Election Watch series. He also serves as a senior counselor to the Continuity of Government Commission.

    Voted a top contender at the Improv comedy club′s 1998 “Washington′s Funniest Celebrity” contest, Norman J. Ornstein proves that a serious sage can also be funny. His accomplishments, however, are no laughing matter. The much-in-demand political analyst serves as resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, columnist for Roll Call, member of USA Today′s board of contributors, senior advisor to the Times Mirror Center for the People and the Press, board member (and original founder) of the National Commission on the Public Service, and co-director the Renewing Congress Project.

    In addition, this icon of the press frequently provides political commentary on CBS Morning News, ABC′s Nightline, CBS′ Face the Nation, as well as Today, CNN, and the The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer. Norman Ornstein has also contributed to some of the most respected newspapers and magazines, including The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times, the Times of London, Fortune, Newsweek, and U.S. News and World Report.

    Mr. Ornstein led a working group of scholars and practitioners that helped shape the law, known as McCain-Feingold, that reformed the campaign financing system. He was elected as a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2004.

    His many books include The Permanent Campaign and Its Future (AEI Press, 2000); The Broken Branch: How Congress is Failing America and How to Get It Back on Track (Oxford University Press, 2006); and Vital Statistics on Congress 2008 (Brookings Institution Press, 2008).


Norman Ornstein Speaker Videos Back to top

Norman Ornstein, Political Expert: Speech


Norman Ornstein clarifies that the cause of today’s political gridlock isn’t polarity, but rather tribalism. He offers several examples in which elected representatives with conflicting stances were able to find common ground on certain topics, put aside their differences on others, and pass productive and historic legislature.

He contrasts this with tribalism, explaining why this metaphor much more accurately captures the current dynamic in Washington D.C. “These are actors who believe the other side is evil, are the enemy and not the adversary, and ‘if you’re for it, I’m against it even if I was for it yesterday,’” Ornstein summarizes the situation.

Norman Ornstein, Political Analyst: Keynote, It’s Even Worse than It Looks



Speeches / Speaking Engagements Back to top


Norman Ornstein has a solid record of foreseeing future political developments and outcomes that his colleagues miss. The prominent expert on Congress puts the latest movements on Capitol Hill in perspective, gets to the root of dysfunction, and proposes well-reasoned and creative solutions to gridlock and discord over the policy areas that affect every day Americans’ lives. Listed among “Washington’s Funniest Celebrities,” Ornstein’s sharp observations and informative takes on Washington are refreshingly interspersed with his stand-up comedian style quips and one-liners.

    Most Requested Topics:

    • The Current Political Scene in Washington
    • Debt and Taxes: Politics and Economics in the U.S.
    • Intensive Care: How Congress Shapes Health Policy
    • Health Policy in a Polarized Political Environment: The Roadmap to 2017 & Beyond




* Please note that while this speaker’s specific speaking fee falls within the range posted above (for Continental U.S. based events), fees are subject to change. For current fee information or international event fees (which are generally 50-75% more than U.S based event fees), please contact us.

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    Most Requested Topics:

    • The Current Political Scene in Washington
    • Debt and Taxes: Politics and Economics in the U.S.
    • Intensive Care: How Congress Shapes Health Policy
    • Health Policy in a Polarized Political Environment: The Roadmap to 2017 & Beyond


Norman Ornstein, Political Expert: Speech


Norman Ornstein clarifies that the cause of today’s political gridlock isn’t polarity, but rather tribalism. He offers several examples in which elected representatives with conflicting stances were able to find common ground on certain topics, put aside their differences on others, and pass productive and historic legislature.

He contrasts this with tribalism, explaining why this metaphor much more accurately captures the current dynamic in Washington D.C. “These are actors who believe the other side is evil, are the enemy and not the adversary, and ‘if you’re for it, I’m against it even if I was for it yesterday,’” Ornstein summarizes the situation.

Norman Ornstein, Political Analyst: Keynote, It’s Even Worse than It Looks