Victor Davis Hanson

Category Archives: Politics

Lessons From the Highway of Death

Lessons From the Highway of Death

California State Route 99 is the north-south highway that cuts through the great Central Valley. And it has changed little since the mid-1960s.

A half-century ago, when the state population was about 18 million — not nearly 40 million as it is today — the 99 used to be a high-speed, four-lane marvel. It was a crown jewel in California’s cutting-edge freeway system.

Not now.

The 99 was recently ranked by ValuePenguin (a private consumer research organization) as the deadliest major highway in the nation. Locals who live along its 400-plus miles often go to bed after seeing lurid TV news reports of nocturnal multi-car accidents. Then they wake up to Central Valley radio accounts of morning carnage on the 99.

The 99 is undergoing a $1 billion, multi-decade upgrade to increase its four lanes to six. Promises have been made to build off- and on-ramps in place of haphazard exits and entries from the old days of cross traffic.

In many of the most dangerous southern portions of the 99, huge semi trucks hog two lanes. Speeders weave in and out of traffic. They still try to drive 70 mph in the manner you could 50 years ago when traffic was less clogged. Text-messaging drivers are now even more dangerous than the intoxicated.

The 99 is emblematic of a state in psychological and material decline.
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Sanctimony, Inc.

by Victor Davis Hanson // National Review
Time was, leftists complained of rigged elections, the media paid attention to dirty tricks, and conservatives cared more about results than rhetoric.
Donald Trump, in characteristically muddled and haphazard fashion, said he thought the election might end up “rigged” (if he lost). Therefore, he would not endorse the November 8 result if he found that fear confirmed — unless, of course, in Jacksonian fashion, he managed to win.
All hell broke loose, from both the Left and principled conservatives, that Trump’s allegations had somehow undermined the American electoral process itself.
Not likely.

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This Election Year Features More Than One Presidential Race

By Victor Davis Hanson // Town Hall

A presidential campaign is figuratively called a “race.” Two runners sprint toward the Election Day finish line for the prize of the presidency.

But the 2016 presidential campaign has spawned lots of weird races.

The first sprint is one between embarrassments and scandals.

Will another WikiLeaks disclosure confirm that Hillary Clinton is a dishonest and conniving hypocrite? Or will yet another open-mic tape, disgruntled beauty queen or old Howard Stern interview remind us that Donald Trump’s private life was — and perhaps still is — uncouth?

The winner will be the candidate leaked about the least by Election Day.
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Our Neutron Bomb Election

 by Victor Davis Hanson // National Review

The shells of our institutions maybe survive the 2016 campaign, but they will be mere husks.

The infamous neutron bomb was designed to melt human flesh without damaging infrastructure.

Something like it has blown up lots of people in the 2016 election and left behind empty institutions.

After the current campaign — the maverick Trump candidacy, the Access Hollywood Trump tape, the FBI scandal, the Freedom of Information Act revelations, the WikiLeaks insider scoops on the Clinton campaign, the hacked e-mails, the fraudulent pay-for-play culture of the Clinton Foundation — the nuked political infrastructure may look the same. But almost everyone involved in the election has been neutroned. Read more →

The Case for Trump

by Victor Davis Hanson // National Review
Conservatives should vote for the Republican nominee. Donald Trump needs a unified Republican party in the homestretch if he is to have any chance left of catching Hillary Clinton — along with winning higher percentages of the college-educated and women than currently support him. But even before the latest revelations from an eleven-year-old Access Hollywood tape, in which Trump crudely talked about women, he had long ago in the primaries gratuitously insulted his more moderate rivals and their supporters. He bragged about his lone-wolf candidacy and claimed that his polls were — and would be — always tremendous — contrary to his present deprecation of them. Is it all that surprising that some in his party and some independents, who felt offended, swear that they will not stoop to vote for him when in extremis he now needs them? Or that party stalwarts protest that they no longer wish to be associated with a malodorous albatross hung around their neck?

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America’s Civilizational Paralysis

by Victor Davis Hanson // Defining Idea

Image credit:Barbara Kelley

The Greek city-states in the fourth-century BC, fifth-century AD Rome, and the Western European democracies after World War I all knew they could not continue as usual with their fiscal, social, political, and economic behavior. But all these states and societies feared far more the self-imposed sacrifices that might have saved them.

Mid-fifteenth-century Byzantium was facing endemic corruption, a radically declining birthrate and shrinking population, and the end of civic militarism—all the last-gasp symptoms of an irreversible decline. Its affluent ruling and religious orders and expansive government services could no longer be supported by disappearing agrarians and the overtaxed mercantile middle class. Returning to the values of the Emperor Justinian’s sixth-century empire that had once ensured a vibrant Byzantine culture of stability and prosperity throughout the old Roman east remained a nostalgic daydream. Given the hardship and sacrifice that would have been required to change the late Byzantine mindset, most residents of Constantinople plodded on to their rendezvous with oblivion in 1453. Read more →

The So-Called Trump Supporter/Defender/Endorser

The Corner
The one and only.
 by Victor Davis Hanson // National Review Online
I think we at National Review have to be very careful in blanket condemnations of Trump “endorsers,” “supporters,” “defenders,” and scare-quote “conservatives” as if they were a monolithic group of mindless extremists or utter fools. Many or perhaps even most, who for years have supported National Review, did not support Trump in the primaries. Many saw the Trump phenomenon not as melodrama, but as tragedy — given eight years of Obama, the sense that the so-called “rules” are not applied equally to an elite in Washington, the past failed centrist campaigns of McCain and Romney, the perceived inability of the Republican party to address open borders, staggering debt, Obamacare, and the trajectory of social extremism, along with the ineptness of what had been billed as — and what we thought would certainly be — an especially gifted Republican primary field. Into that void, Trump barreled in with searing heat where in the past sober and judicious light were perceived to have failed. The rest is history.
The challenge for Republicans — whatever the election result and to the extent that it is fixable — will be to bridge the gaps between the diehard Trump core, the so-called conservative media and political establishment, traditional-minded independents, and the conservative base. Key will be discovering what were the conditions that created Trump (especially that undeniable strain of supporter that saw losing with Trump as preferable to possibly winning with a more marketable Republican candidate), both the candidate and the message, and the avoidance of self-righteous disdain that will only be perceived as the sort of elitism that empowered the Trump phenomenon in the first place.
Many National Review readers (as well as those who we all hope will return to NR) are hardly fanatics in their support for Trump. Their common bond is a deep and existential fear of what four, and likely eight, years of Hillary Clinton will do to the country on top of eight years of Obama’s hard progressivism. It is sometimes true that they overlook Trump’s glaring flaws, most recently his gross language, and that has and will have more consequences, but mostly they are frustrated with the double standards of the Left, which poses as morally superior on matter of gender, sex, and feminism, and yet has had for a half century no problem, for political reasons, canonizing the fatally negligent Ted Kennedy or the serial sexual groper, philanderer, and perhaps sexual assaulter Bill Clinton.
Finally, it would be wiser before rather than after the election to seek common ground. And one way to do it is to be careful in all but writing off millions of conservative voters and thousands of loyal National Review readers who will vote Trump as somehow beyond the pale, and whose support, and the expansion of that support, are essential to finding ways of unifying conservatives.

The Tenth Life of Donald Trump

  by Victor Davis Hanson// National Review Online
By seizing control of Sunday night’s debate, he steadied his faltering candidacy — a bit. The Sunday debate recalibrated the moribund Trump candidacy. It will not end this week. The stampede and groupthink calls for his resignation will ease. Trump might have lost the debate on points of detail, but by the end of hour one, he had won it on energy level and audacity.
No one has ever spoken so bluntly to Hillary Clinton in her 30 years in politics. The confrontation was long overdue. In an either/or race, Trump at least reminded the audience that he is running as a refutation of the status quo. Hillary still bores with the idea that Obama’s record is fine and her continuance of it will make things even better.
Trump, as the teenage delinquent, was at times, as expected, repetitive and brash. Hillary, as playground monitor, was characteristically off-putting, sanctimonious and disingenuous. At one point she foolishly explained her advocacy of being duplicitous by comparing herself to a supposed two-faced Abe Lincoln. Pulling Old Abe down to pull yourself up is not a good idea. Nor is referring voters to “fact-checking” at her own website! And there is something now surreal about Hillary’s promises to get tough with Putin, after she cooked up that ridiculous stunt of a red “reset” button in Geneva in 2009, while subsequently caving on almost everything the Russians wanted.

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Trump, Politics, and Our Sexual Schizophrenia

 Conservatives should know better than to so quickly validate a dishonest narrative that benefits the other side.


A few minutes into Sunday’s debate Donald Trump’s decade-old crude sexual banter with a reporter from an entertainment show was mentioned by the CNN moderator. Donald again apologized for the comments, and Hillary immediately pounced on Trump’s misogyny, throwing in his alleged racism and Islamophobia. To his credit, Trump ignored her slurs and attacked her record. When Democrat loyalist Martha Raddatz pressed on, Trump let loose with a powerful contrast with Bill’s record of abuse––which Hillary side-stepped.

Welcome to another debate on everything except the issues. Consider the reporting on Trump’s comments, which is the mother of all dog-bites-man-stories. I don’t know what cocoon you have to come from not to know that every single day millions of men––and women–– of all ages, races, and sexual persuasions exchange vulgar, crude banter about sex. And you’d have to be particularly dumb, or duplicitous, to be shocked that a New Yorker with a flamboyant and braggadocios personality who is involved in casinos, reality television, construction, and beauty pageants probably would do so on a regular basis. Or, if not dumb, then a partisan hack indulging in rank hypocrisy in order to gain political advantage. Welcome to another episode of America’s political hypocrisy and sexual schizophrenia. Read more →

Is Trump Admiral Bull Halsey or Captain Queeg?

by Victor Davis Hanson // National Review
In debate No. 2, Trump owes it to the ‘deplorables’ to focus on the issues and exert some self-control. In the first debate, Hillary stuck out her jaw on cybersecurity, the treatment of women, sermons on the need for restrained language, and talk about the shenanigans of the rich — and Trump passed on her e-mail scandals, her denigration of Bill’s women, her reckless smears like “deplorables,” and her pay-for-pay Clinton Foundation enrichment, obsessed instead with the irrelevant and insignificant.
In fact, the first presidential debate resembled the final scene out of the Caine Mutiny. Trump was melting down like the baited Captain Queeg (Humphrey Bogart), in his convoluted wild-goose-chase defenses of his arcane business career. Watching it was as painful as it was for the admiral judges in the movie who saw fellow officer Queeg reduced to empty shouting about strawberries.

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