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Category Archives: Public Figures

Ten Reasons Why Trump Could Win

With four more months until Election Day, be prepared for chills and spills.

By Victor Davis Hanson // National Review Online

Washington’s Hollow Men

The government/media power elite are spectacularly ignorant of the American people.

by Victor Davis Hanson//National Review Online

We are the hollow men
We are the stuffed men
Leaning together
Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!
Our dried voices, when
We whisper together
Are quiet and meaningless
As wind in dry grass
Or rats’ feet over broken glass
In our dry cellar

Shape without form, shade without colour,
Paralysed force, gesture without motion.

— T. S. Eliot

In Merced or Dayton, if an insurance agent, eager to help his wife facing indictment, barged into a restaurant where the local DA is known to lunch, he would almost certainly be told to get the hell out.

But among the Washington elite, the scenario is apparently quite different. The two parties, in supposedly serendipitous fashion, just happen to touch down at the same time on the Phoenix corporate tarmac, with their private planes pulling up nose to nose. Then the attorney general of the United States and her husband, in secrecy enforced by federal security details, welcome the ex-president onto her government plane. Afterward, and only when caught, the prosecutor and the husband of the person under investigation assure the world that they talked about everything except Hillary Clinton’s possible indictment, Loretta Lynch’s past appointment by Bill Clinton and likely judicial future, or the general quandary of 2016.

There has been a lot of talk since Brexit and the rise of Donald Trump of the corrosive power and influence of the “elite” and the “establishment.” But to quote Butch Cassidy to the Sundance Kid, “Who are those guys?”

In the case of the ancient Romans or of the traditional British ruling classes, land, birth, education, money, government service, and cultural notoriety were among the ingredients that made one an establishmentarian. But our modern American elite is a bit different.

Residence, either in the Boston–Washington, D.C., or the San Francisco–Los Angeles corridor, often is a requisite. Celebrity and public exposure count — e.g., access to traditional television outlets (as opposed to hoi polloi Internet blogging). So does education — again, most often a coastal-corridor thing: Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Berkeley, Stanford, etc.

Net worth, whether made or inherited, helps. But lots of billionaires, especially Midwestern sorts, are not part of the elite, in that their money does not necessarily translate into much political or cultural influence — or influence of the right sort. (Exceptions are Chicago traders who bundle millions for Hillary.)

Especially influential are the revolving-door multimillionaires, especially from big banks and Wall Street — the Tim Geithners, Jack Lews, Hank Paulsons, and Robert Rubins, but also the lesser flunkies of the Freddie/Fannie Clintonite crowd, a Franklin Raines (raking in $90 million) or a Jamie Gorelick ($26 million), all of whom came into the White House and its bureaucracies to get rich, but who always seem shocked when the public does not like their incestuous trails of bailouts, relief plans, favorable regulations, etc.

Creepy too are the satellite grifters like “investment banker” Rahm Emanuel — who somehow, between the White House and the House of Representatives, made off with $16 million for his financial “expertise” — or Chelsea Clinton, who made her fortune ($15 million?) largely by being a “consultant” for a Wall Street investment group (her fluff job at NBC News was small potatoes in comparison). The locus classicus, of course, is the Clinton power marriage itself, which invested nearly 40 years of public service in what proved to be a gargantuan pay-for-play payoff, when they parlayed Hillary’s political trajectories into a personal fortune of well over $100 million. Give them credit: From the early days, when they would write off as IRS deductions gifts of their used underwear, they ended up 30 years later getting paid $10,000 to $60,000 a minute for their Wall Street riffs.

The nexus between Big Government, Big Money, Big Influence, and Big Media is sometimes empowered by familial journalistic continuity (e.g., John Dickerson, son of Nancy Dickerson) or a second generation of fashion/glitz and media (Gloria Vanderbilt and Anderson Cooper), but again is increasingly expressed in the corridor “power couple,” the sorts who receive sycophantic adulation in New York and Washington monthly magazines. The Andrea Mitchell/Alan Greenspan power marriage was hailed as a threefer of media, government, and money. What was so strange, however, was just how often wrong were Mitchell in her amateurishly politicized rants and Greenspan in his cryptic Delphic prophecies — and always in areas of their supposedly greatest expertise.

Take also the Obama Cabinet. When we wonder how Susan Rice could go on television on five occasions in a single day to deceive about Benghazi; or John Kerry — in the middle of a war whose results Obama would come to call a “stable” and “self-reliant” democratic Iraq — could warn American youth that the punishment for poor school performance was “to get stuck in Iraq”; or Jay Carney (now senior vice president of global corporate affairs at Amazon) and Josh Earnest could both repeatedly mislead the country on Benghazi, the reason may be not just that they felt their influence, status, and privilege meant they were rarely responsible for the real-world consequences of their own rhetoric, but that they had forgotten entirely the nature of middle-class America, or never really knew it at all.

I get the impression that members of the D.C. elite do not wait in line with a sick kid in the emergency room on a Saturday night, when the blood flows and the supporters of rival gangs have to be separated in the waiting room; or that they find dirty diapers, car seats, and dead dogs tossed on their lawns, or wait two hours at the DMV, or are told that their journalistic assignment was outsourced to India, or read public-school teachers’ comments on their kids’ papers that were ungrammatical and misspelled to the point of being incomprehensible. The elite seems to be ignorant that, about 1975, Bedford Falls flyover country started to become Pottersville.

In forming perceptions about Benghazi, the Iran deal, globalization, or illegal immigration, it is sometimes hard to know who is making policy and who is reporting and analyzing such formulations — or whether they are one and the same. National Security Advisor Susan Rice is married to former ABC television producer Ian Cameron. Ben Rhodes, who drew up the talking-points deceptions about Benghazi and seemed to boast of deceiving the public about the Iran deal, is the brother of CBS News president David Rhodes. Will 60 Minutes do one of its signature hit pieces on Ben Rhodes?

Secretary of State John Kerry — who famously docks his yacht in Rhode Island in order to avoid paying Massachusetts taxes on it — is married to Teresa Heinz, the billionaire widow of the late senator and catsup heir John Heinz. Former Obama press secretary Jay Carney married Claire Shipman, senior national correspondent for ABC’s Good Morning America; his successor, Josh Earnest, married Natalie Wyeth, a veteran of the Treasury Department. Huma Abedin, Hillary Clinton’s “body woman,” is married to creepy sexter Anthony Weiner; perhaps she was mesmerized by his stellar political career, his feminist credentials, and his tolerant approach to deviancy? And on and on it goes.

These Christiane Amanpour/Jamie Rosen or Samantha Power/Cass Sunstein types of connections could be explored to the nth degree, especially their moth-to-the-flame progressive fixations with maximizing privilege, power, and class. But my purpose is not to suggest some conspiratorial cabal of D.C. and New York insiders, only to note that an increasing number of government and media elites are so entangled with each other, leveraging lucrative careers in politics, finance, and the media, and doubling their influence through marriage, that they have scant knowledge of and less concern for the clingers who live well beyond their coastal-corridor moats. And so when reality proves their preconceptions wrong — from Benghazi to Brexit — they have only outrage and disdain to fall back on.

Sometimes their smug isolation is the stuff of caricature. Mark Zuckerberg waxes poetically on about the illiberality of building border walls (e.g., “I hear fearful voices calling for building walls and distancing people they label as others”), but he is now simultaneously involved in three controversies involving either hyper-private security patrols or walls or both as he seeks to use his fortune to create Maginot Lines around his Palo Alto, San Francisco, and Hawaii properties to keep the wrong sort of people quite distant.

I should end by returning to Hillary Clinton, whose insider arc from the cattle-futures con to quarter-million-dollar Wall Street chats to the e-mail scandal shares the common and persistent theme of influence peddling, greed, and lying, while she lectures Americans about the need for trust, fairness, and transparency. Or perhaps I should finish with Chelsea, a chip off the old blockess, who became instantly rich as she decried the culture’s overemphasis on wealth, and whose husband’s hedge fund is tottering, after disastrously investing in Greek bailout bonds — at a time when his mother-in-law and Sidney Blumenthal were exchanging classified speculations over whether German banks would guarantee Greek debt and hence investors’ money.

But I conclude on a much more sober, judicious, and appropriately unimpeachable D.C. figure, the rightly revered Thomas Pickering, career diplomat, bipartisan Council on Foreign Relation fixture, co-chairman of blue-ribbon investigative committees, and perhaps heir to the itinerant fixers of a bygone age, such as Sumner Welles, John McCloy, and Clark Clifford. Pickering — multilingual, veteran of hazardous diplomatic posts, confidant to presidents of both parties, and octogenarian “wise man” — was asked by the State Department to conduct its internal investigation of the Benghazi debacle, as chairman of the Benghazi Accountability Review Board.

Four of the five members of this board, including Pickering, were apparently recommended by Hillary Clinton’s own State Department team in good Quis custodiet custodes? style. No one would dare suggest that Pickering, appointed as an undersecretary of state and an ambassador by Bill Clinton, and a well-known Clinton friend, might have various conflicts of interest in investigating fully the allegations that Hillary Clinton refused to beef up security at the consulate in Benghazi, or falsely claimed in public that the loss of four Americans was the result of an inflammatory video, just hours after she confided in e-mail communications that it was a preplanned al-Qaeda attack.

Instead, Pickering decided that Clinton would never appear before his committee and declared that he was not interested in a gotcha finding; yet somehow Clinton aide Cheryl Mills found a way to review the board’s findings before publication. In the end, the State Department chastised and put on leave lowly subordinates for seemingly working within the security parameters established by the sacrosanct secretary of state.

Nor would anyone suggest that the temperate and esteemed Pickering, as a vice president of Boeing from 2001 to 2006, and then a consultant to Boeing from 2006 to 2015, had any special financial interest in promoting the Clinton, and then the Kerry, outreach to Iran. Indeed, Pickering testified before Congress and wrote elegant op-eds about why the Iran non-enrichment accord was a good deal — but without ever quite telling the country that a liberated Iran was also considering a $25 billion purchase of aircraft (with potential dual use as military transports) from Boeing — which just happened to be Pickering’s quite generous corporate client.

Is it all that strange that when Washington fixtures write outraged op-eds about the “fascistic” Donald Trump or the “self-harming” Brexit voters, no one seems to listen any more? Does a Hank Paulson — former assistant to John Erhlichman, former CEO of Goldman Sachs (which has given over $800,000 to Hillary’s campaigns as well as $675,000 in speaking fees), former Treasury secretary, and of some $700 million in net worth — ever sense that his assurances that Hillary is presidential and not corrupt are not believable? Or that the effect of his politicking is analogous to angrily waving a Mexican flag at a Trump rally?

In a sense, these revolving-door apparatchiks and incestuous couples are bullies, who use their megaphones to disparage others who are supposedly blinkered and ignorant to the point of not believing that a videomaker caused the attacks in Libya, not trusting the Iranians, being skeptical about the theory of sanctuary cities, missing the genius of the European Union, not seeing the brilliant logic in allowing in 12 million immigrants from southern Mexico and Central America under unlawful auspices, panicking about $20 trillion in debt, and incapable of appreciating the wonders of outsourcing.

In matters of deception, ostentatious vulgarity never proves as injurious as the hubris of the mannered establishment. So what I resent most about the Washington hollow men is not the sources and methods through which they parlay wealth, power, and influence, or the values they embrace to exercise and perpetuate their privilege and sense of exalted self, but the feigned outrage that they express when anyone dares suggest, by word or vote, that they are mediocrities and ethical adolescents — and really quite emotional, after all.

A Long Trump Summer

When have voters faced a choice between two such unpalatable, unprincipled candidates?

By Victor Davis Hanson // National Review Online

Before summer is over, we may see things now scarcely imagined that will make Brexit seem anticlimactic.

Trump’s Attack Mode

I think the following is an accurate statement: No major public figure has ever before attacked the Clintons in the manner that Donald Trump did last week. The details and tone of his charges can be endlessly analyzed, but their central theme resonates: The Clinton couple, broke when they left the White House in 2001, leveraged Hillary Clinton’s planned political trajectories to amass a personal fortune of between $100 and $200 million — all in the form of quid pro quo investments by wealthy individuals and foreign governments in the likely continuance of Clinton political power. Government is not the jungle of Manhattan real estate, and should have demanded at least a veneer of honesty.

The scandals of the Clinton Foundation, Bill Clinton’s various get-rich and jet-set escapades, and much of Hillary Clinton’s paranoia over the audit of her e-mail communications all revolve around a Clinton circle that can never be squared even by liberal pieties: The wealthy do not make politicians fabulously rich — unless they assume that they will receive something of much greater value in return.
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Ideologues Make for Dangerous Politicians

Opportunists are at least attuned to public opinion, unlike ideologues.

By Victor Davis Hanson // National Review Online

 

Hillary Clinton is a seasoned liberal politician, but one with few core beliefs. Her positions on subjects such as gay marriage, free-trade agreements, the Keystone XL pipeline, the Iraq War, the Assad regime in Syria, and the use of the term “radical Islam” all seem to hinge on what she perceives 51 percent of the public to believe on any given day.

Such politicians believe truth is a relative construct. Things are deemed false by politicians only if they cannot convince the public that they are true — and vice versa. When the majority of Americans no longer believe Clinton’s yarns about her private e-mail server to the point of not wanting to vote for her, then she will change her narrative and create new, convenient truths to reflect the new consensus.

Donald Trump is an amateur politician but a politician nevertheless. He is ostensibly conservative, but he likewise seems to change his positions on a number of issues — from abortion to the Iraq War — depending on what he feels has become the majority position. And as with Clinton, Trump’s idea of truth is defined as what works, while falsity is simply any narrative that proved unusable.
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The Trump Nuclear Bomb

Other public figures won’t admit they agree with him — but they often quietly adopt his ideas.

By Victor Davis Hanson // National Review Online

Donald Trump has a frightening habit of uttering things that many people apparently think, but would never express. And he blusters in such an off-putting and sloppy fashion that he alienates those who otherwise might agree with many of his critiques of political correctness.

Nonetheless, when the dust settles, we often see that Trump’s megatonnage strikes a chord — and, with it, sometimes has effected change. In an odd way, the more personally unpopular he becomes for raising taboo issues, the more resonant become the more refined variants of his proposals for addressing these festering problems.

For the last several months, anti-Trump demonstrators have sought to disrupt his rallies; they attack his supporters and wave offensive anti-American and often overtly racist placards, while burning American and waving Mexican flags — often with a nonchalant police force looking on.

Trump shouts back that their antics are only further proof of his general point: Illegal immigration and an open border have subverted our immigration laws and created a paradoxical movement that is as illogical as it is ungracious. After fleeing Mexico, entering the U.S. illegally, and being treated with respect (try doing the same in any Latin American country), some foreign nationals have been waving the flag of the country they do not wish to return to, while scorning the flag of the country that they demand to stay in. But apparently they are not fond of Trump’s larger point, disguised by his barroom rhetoric, which is that the old melting-pot protocols of rapid assimilation, integration, and intermarriage have been sabotaged — and now the American people can at last see the wages of that disaster on national TV.
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America In Free Fall

By Victor Davis Hanson // Defining Ideas

 

Before the Battle of Chaeronea (338 BC), where Philip II of Macedon prevailed over a common Greek alliance, the city-states had been weakened by years of social and economic turmoil. To read the classical speeches in the Athenian assembly is to learn of the democracy’s constant struggles with declining revenues, insolvency, and expanding entitlements. Rome between the First Triumvirate (59 BC) and the ascension of Caesar Augustus’s autocracy (27 BC) was mostly defined by gang violence, chaos, and civil war, the common theme being a loss of trust in republican values. Russia was in a revolutionary spiral for nearly twenty years between 1905 and the final victory of the Bolsheviks in 1922, ending up with a cure worse than the disease. And Europe between 1930 and 1939 saw most of its democracies erode as fascists and communists gained power—eventually leading to the greater disaster of the outbreak of World War II.

The United States has seen periods of near fatal internal chaos—in the late 1850s leading up to the carnage of the Civil War, during the decade of the Great Depression between 1929 and 1939, and in the chaotic 1960s. Something similar is starting to plague America today on a variety of political, economic, social, and cultural fronts.

The contenders for president reflect the loss of confidence of the times. Bernie Sanders is an avowed socialist. Yet scan the record of big government redistributionism here and abroad—from Chicago and Detroit to the insolvent Mediterranean nations of the European Union and failed states like Venezuela—and there is no encouraging model of socialist success. Hillary Clinton will win the Democratic nomination—if she is not the first nominee in American history to be indicted, on possible charges of violating federal intelligence laws, and perhaps perjury and obstruction of justice. Donald Trump has neither political experience nor a detailed agenda, but has charged ahead on the basis of his vague promise to “make America great again”—a Jacksonian version of Obama’s equally vacuous 2008 promise of “hope and change.”
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Politics, Not Personalities, Will Likely Determine the Presidential Election

The candidates may be unconventional, but their political agendas fall along a conventional divide.

By Victor Davis Hanson // National Review Online

At first glance, 2016 sizes up as no other election year in American history.

For more than 30 years, both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have been high-profile and controversial celebrities. Both have been plagued by scandals and are viewed negatively by millions of voters. Clinton is facing possible federal indictment; Trump is being sued over Trump University.

If elected, Clinton would be first female president in U.S. history. If Trump prevails, he would be the first president to assume office without having held a political or cabinet office or a high military rank.

Yet the race still could prove more conventional than unorthodox.

Trump is considered uniquely crude. But take some of our most iconic political figures and one can find comparable extremist rhetoric.

As California governor, Ronald Reagan once said of University of California at Berkeley protesters, “If it takes a bloodbath, let’s get it over with. No more appeasement.” When the Symbionese Liberation Army kidnapped heiress Patty Hearst and forced her family to distribute food to the poor, Reagan quipped, “It’s just too bad we can’t have an epidemic of botulism.”

Barack Obama has scoffed this his own grandmother was a “typical white person,” called on his supporters to “get in their face” of his opponents, invoked a variation of the phrase “bring a gun to a knife fight” in an attempt to fire up supporters during his first presidential campaign, and compared his own bad bowling to the supposed competition level of the Special Olympics.
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Election 2016: Knowns and Unknowns

We still have five more months of Trump vs. Hillary. Then four or eight years of — what?

By Victor Davis Hanson // National Review Online

The Disaffected. Will stay-home so-called establishment Republicans outnumber renewed Reagan Democrats, Tea Partiers, and conservative independents, some of whom likely sat out 2008 and 2012, but who now are likely to vote for Trump? The latter energized group will probably continue to support Trump even if he persists in his suicidal detours like the legal gymnastics of Trump University, or if he keeps repeating ad nauseam the same stale generalities he has served up throughout his campaign.

And will the ranks of the #NeverTrump holdouts, despite claims to the contrary in the spring, thin by autumn, should Trump change a few of his odious spots and become a more disciplined candidate? Will his populist message be recalibrated to appeal to minorities who, albeit less publicly than their white counterparts, resent illegal immigration and its effects on the poor and working classes, are angry about record labor nonparticipation and elite boutique environmentalism, and appreciate tough, even if crazed, El Jefe talk in place of politically correct platitudes?

If Trump comes up with a detailed, even if clumsily delivered, conservative agenda, and if a now-die-hard-leftist Hillary Clinton continues to deprecate and caricature the entire conservative tradition, will he who seems a buffoon in June prove preferable in November to ensuring a 16-year Obama–Clinton regnum?

Anti-Hillary vs. Anti-Trump. Will Sanders holdouts roughly approximate the number of Republican #NeverTrumpers? For now, it would be more socially acceptable for a Sanders supporter to vote for Hillary than for an anti-Trumper to give in and vote for Trump. Voting for Hillary would not entail the social and class costs for a Sanders supporter that voting for Trump would for a Republican of the “not-in-my-name” Romney or Jeb Bush wing. The Wall Street Journal is more likely to show repugnance for the idea of finishing the wall than an advocate of Sanders’s 70 percent top tax rate is to reject Hillary’s less radical, though radical enough, idea of upping the current 39.5 percent top rate. An oddity of the campaign is that the Republican establishment applies a higher standard to its own candidate than it has applied to either Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton, who, with a modicum of research, can be proven to have matched Trump, slur for slur.

Criminality. No one knows at this point whether Hillary will be indicted or, if she is not, whether her exemption will trigger outrage in the FBI ranks that will garner headline notoriety even in the liberal media. Almost daily, yet another detail in the e-mail scandal emerges that reinforces the narrative that everything Hillary has said so far about her e-mails has been demonstrably false. More importantly, the Clintons, especially post-2000, became a near-criminal enterprise. Almost weekly over the last few months, we have learned of a new wrinkle to the Clinton Foundation’s pay-to-play syndicate. Bill Clinton was apparently, at $4 million a year, the highest-paid “chancellor” in the history of American higher education, for steering toward the scandal-plagued Laureate “University” millions of dollars in business from the State Department, which was run by his wife. Because the Clintons became so rich so quickly, and without any apparent mechanism other than leveraging government service, there is a two-decades reservoir of scandals that is largely untapped — suggesting that Balzac’s aphorism should be amended to read in the plural, “Behind every great fortune there are plenty of great crimes.”

The Obama Matrix. Pollsters are still trying to calibrate to what degree Hillary will recapture Obama’s record minority registration, turnout, and block voting — and whether such pandering will in turn spike the white-male anti-Hillary vote to record levels. There is something foreign and uncomfortable about Hillary’s faux-accented performances; perhaps her shrill obsequiousness will strike at least some minority voters as a sort of elite white and repugnant condescension. No one likes a transparent suck-up, especially by someone whose past record of honesty and character is so disreputable. Conventional wisdom suggests that the supposed “new” demography will allow Hillary to replicate the Obama coalition, but that assumes that minority voters, who supposedly vote along ethnic and racial lines, are comfortable with Hillary’s tastes and with her disingenuous career, and will vote as they did in 2008 and 2012, more than making up for new white-working-class converts to Trump.

Trump Factor X. Will the so-called “Trump disconnect” continue, an intangible that for over a year has humiliated pundits who have made serially erroneous forecasts of his demise? In other words, no one has yet been able to calibrate the degree to which Trump has made politics irrelevant and substituted harsh, politically incorrect, and often crude expression and rhetoric for any kind of detailed agenda. No one knows quite how the weird Trump factor that propelled him through the primaries will play in the far wider arena of the general election, but all of us have met in our own circles the most surprising and unexpected Trump supporters, who cite no resonant political affinity with Trump other than shared furor over politically correct and censored speech, and the need for someone — almost anyone will do — to throw a wrecking ball through the politically correct glass houses of our society. No one knows how many of his supporters are silent, embarrassed to state publicly their support for one so uncouth; no one knows what he may say or do on any given day — or the full effect of his outbursts — and no one quite appreciates that what appears outlandish to elites may appear genuine and earthy to others. Today experts laugh that a supposedly buffoonish Sarah Palin sank the otherwise sober and judicious McCain campaign; but, in truth, polls at the times suggested that she was either not a factor or perhaps a plus to the ticket. In any case, the McCain–Palin ticket was ahead of Obama until the Wall Street meltdown in September of 2008. Elites who said they knew no one who liked Palin in truth must have known very few Americans at all.

The Media. Trump sailed to primary victories on a Machiavellian wave of media manipulation; he had Kardashian-like pull, and at very little cost could leverage network attention — either on the premise that his buffoonery was a ratings plus, or because leftist flutists were willing to play for Trump in the hopes of leading Republican lemmings over the cliff. What is certain is that in the general election, the media will revert to form and become an institutionalized extension of the Clinton campaign; Trump mania will no longer be useful to either their profits or their political objectives. Then we will see just how adroit Trump is as a media showman, when journalists are out to get him rather than to be entertained by him. Moreover, the billion-dollar-plus free publicity of early 2016 may have left the Trump organization complacent, expecting that it could glide to a general-election victory without massive fundraising and a serious ground game. That delusion might mean that Trump’s people will never quite catch up with Hillary’s money and get-out-the-vote machine.

Septuagenarians. Will the health of the 68-year-old Clinton and the nearly 70-year-old Trump hold up under the grueling next five months of summer and autumn campaigning? Actuarial tables suggest that both would likely be able to finish out two terms, but the point is not necessarily longevity, but robustness. In other words, which of the two elderly candidates — in combined age, they are the oldest nominees in two-party history — will be the more likely to crisscross the country and put in 16-hour days? While Trump — at about the same age as the hollowed-out, wraith-like Bill Clinton — does not seem to be a model of fitness, so far he exhibits an animal energy lacking in Hillary.

Obama — on the Back Nine or on the Stump? As long as Barack Obama keeps out of sight, and things run on autopilot, half the country likes the abstract idea that he is president. In contrast, when he campaigns, demagogues, slurs, and expresses his inner narcissism, his ratings dip to near 40 percent. If he slams Trump from abroad, delivers another stuttering, incoherent rant against Trump, offers the Clintons more snarky backhanded compliments (Hillary is “likeable enough”), or issues more end-of-the-regime executive orders, he will prove by November more a negative than a plus. For now, Hillary is flummoxed about how to win his allegiance (both political and legal) without having to defend a disastrous $11 trillion in additional debt, a mess overseas (in which, to be sure, she had a hand), Obamacare, and a sluggish economy of slow growth and record labor-force non-participation — or what Bill Clinton summed up succinctly as the “awful legacy of the last eight years.” Obama could help Hillary best by giving a pro-forma endorsement and then staying on the golf course until November. If, instead, Obama goes on the stump for her, it may be counterproductive — and in some subliminal fashion therefore preferable for the egocentric Obama.

The News. If Putin stays within his boundaries, if the Chinese and North Koreans refrain from doing something stupid, if Iran curbs its braggadocio and does not hijack another American boat, if ISIS fails to pull off another major terrorist operation, and if the economy continues to stagger along, then the superficial calm works to Hillary’s advantage. But if in the next five months we have a foreign crisis or an economic slowdown, then Hillary in relation to Obama replays the role of McCain in relation to Bush in 2008 — but squared, given Hillary’s tenure in the Obama administration. Obama, with massive defense cuts, lead-from-behind and reset diplomacy, and treating allies as neutrals and enemies as friends, has endangered America abroad and weakened it at home. The tab is coming due, but whether it will arrive before November is unclear. Certainly, the latest tragedy of the the mass shooting in Florida suggests that having a president and a would-be president who, for politically correct reasons, cannot utter the phrase “radical Islam” or “Islamic terrorism” in the context of Muslims who kill innocents out of religious zeal and hatred is not a sustainable proposition.

The Rot. We do not quite know to what the degree the public is sick of the New York–Washington rot, encompassing Obama’s petty identity politics, the Clintons’ grifter enterprises, the sanctimonious and ossified Republican establishment, the incestuous network of cable and media pundits, and the general sense that our elites of both parties never expect the consequences of their own ideologies to apply to themselves. The general repugnance for traditional politicians, cable-news wizards, and Wall Street profiteers fueled both Sanders and Trump, despite the contradictions of their own relationships with big money, big politics, and big media. But as Sanders drops out of the race, Trump alone will remain the more populist and anti-establishment of the final two candidates. The idea of socialist Sanders supporters flocking to Trump should seem wholly lunatic. But the same youthful incoherence that drew the naïve to Sanders might to some degree draw them now to Trump, on the basis that he dislikes Hillary, Inc., even more than did Sanders. The wonder (to paraphrase Dr. Johnson on female preachers and dancing dogs) is not that Trump might capture a fair number of Sanders voters, but that he could capture any at all.

Final thoughts: If Trump were to win, the Democratic/Clinton establishment would be mostly discredited and the party would move even further to the Left, in McGovern 1972 fashion, while its Republican establishment counterpart would wander in a post-1964-like wilderness.

If Hillary prevails, we will likely see a 16-year continuum of fundamental change, the likes of which have not been seen since the 20 years between 1933 and 1952 — though Obama has none of the redeeming virtues of FDR on foreign policy, nor Hillary those of Truman. Meanwhile the blame-gaming among Republicans that would follow a Clinton victory (with one wing arguing that stay-homes sabotaged Trump and the other wing saying it was Neanderthals who nominated him) might well destroy the party, given that its class fissures, first revealed in the defections to the 1992 and 1996 Perot campaigns, have now become an abyss.

In the meantime, perhaps #NeverTrumpers should adopt one rule for the sake of party unity: For each of their attacks on the Republican nominee, vow to match it with one attack on the Democratic nominee. And for each conservative guest editorialist in the New York Times or Washington Post deploring what the Republicans have done, perhaps a #NeverHillary liberal might write a commensurate critical op-ed about Clinton in The Weekly Standard or National Review.

Same Old, Same Old Horror

The Orlando massacre brings up familiar lessons that we never quite learn.

By Victor Davis Hanson // City Journal

The aftermath of Islamist Afghan-American Omar Mateen’s murderous rampage against American gays seems disturbingly familiar, an echo of past themes that never stop playing—and lessons that never get learned. The post-911 debate over “why do they hate us” should have been settled long ago with a resounding “because of who we are,” rather than the refrain from the blame-America crowd—voiced from the Ron Paul libertarian Right to the Michael Moore Left—that the answer is “because of what we do.” Mateen did not cite the usual ISIS foreign policy boilerplate so much as reportedly express his furor over gay men kissing—suggesting that, like Mohammed Atta et al., he despised the essence of Western liberality and popular culture, yet, like a moth to a flame, was both repelled by it and attracted to it.

Once again, as in the case of the Tsarnaevs and San Bernardino murderers, the shooter and his associations were on federal authorities’ radar—and again to no avail. Apparently, dozens of Americans must be massacred every so often so that the rest of us can avoid the politically incorrect charge of being “Islamophobic.” At some point, intelligence authorities will have to take seriously American-born Muslims who consume ISIS propaganda and espouse radical Islamic hatred.
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Journalism, R. I. P.

By definition, progressives cannot be guilty of bias.

By Victor Davis Hanson // National Review Online

For a variety of historical and cultural reasons, most of those who work in the media are progressives. They believe that government must undertake to fix an array of social maladies, such as income inequality, perceived racial and gender disparities, and the general dangerous superstitions, bad habits, and cultural baggage of those of less education than reporters, investigative journalists, and Internet and television commentators.

Yet sometimes simply reporting on society’s perceived ills does not offer quite a rich enough landscape in which to save humanity. And sometimes reality offers examples that confound the progressive ideology.

Therefore, journalists often fabricate stories and justify their cons as necessary means to achieve their higher aims. The falsifications range from the absurd to the existential, as we’ve seen with the editing of 911 tapes and photoshopping of pictures of George Zimmerman in the Trayvon Martin case. The syndrome includes the organizing of a private and secretive liberal political guild like JournoList and the slaps on the wrist dealt to progressive mythographers and plagiarists such as Fareed Zakaria and Maureen Dowd.
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