Victor Davis Hanson Private Papers

Seven Days in February

by Victor Davis Hanson// National Review
 Trumps’ critics, left and right, aim to bring about the cataclysm they predicted.
A 1964 political melodrama, Seven Days in May, envisioned a futuristic (1970s) failed military cabal that sought to sideline the president of the United States over his proposed nuclear-disarmament treaty with the Soviets.
Something far less dramatic but perhaps as disturbing as Hollywood fiction played out this February.
The Teeth-Gnashing of Deep Government
Currently, the political and media opponents of Donald Trump are seeking to subvert his presidency in a manner unprecedented in the recent history of American politics. The so-called resistance among EPA federal employees is trying to disrupt Trump administration reform; immigration activists promise to flood the judiciary to render executive orders inoperative.
Intelligence agencies had earlier leaked fake news briefings about the purported escapades of President-elect Trump in Moscow — stories that were quickly exposed as politically driven concoctions. Nearly one-third of House Democrats boycotted the Inauguration. Celebrities such as Ashley Judd and Madonna shouted obscenities to crowds of protesters; Madonna voiced her dreams of Trump’s death by saying she’d been thinking a lot about blowing up the White House.

Read more →

02/21/17

From an Angry Reader:

Victor David Hanson’s latest rant, “Obama left the president with monstrous mess (2/17),” is in its unmitigated slam at our “last president” not the least bit surprising, both in its orientation as well as in its patent bias.   While it’s a fool’s errand to try to defend much of Obama’s efforts in foreign affairs, the notion that the present mess is Obama’s work alone is absurd.  It is widely recognized that the work of a dud named Bush, in his less than honest war making policies had a good bit to do with today’s mess.  Indeed, Hanson recognizes as much, but waits till his very last sentence (contrary to the title) to do so.  In the meantime, should Victor tire of Obama bashing, he might do a column on the domestic economy under O.  While it would be foolish to suggest that all’s super well on the domestic front, it is the case that Obama inherited a serious recession with an unemployment rate reaching 10% shortly after his inauguration, and which to today is significantly below 5 percent.  Alas, in keeping with his obvious right wing bias, I’m sure that Hanson will soon join Trump himself in claiming credit for the present state of the domestic economy.  Alas, it’s the blatant bias of folks like Hanson that helps create the deep hostility in so much of our politics.  Sad.

As ever, and in not surprising contempt, David E. Kaun

Victor Davis Hanson’s Reply:

Dear Angry Reader David E. Kaun,

Much of what you write is not just emotional ranting, but simply factually incorrect (Davis not David) and logically incoherent (e.g., much of Obama’s efforts in foreign affairs are not defensible, but the present mess is not his alone). When Obama entered office in January 2008, Iraq was quiet—so much so that Vice President Joe Biden termed it the administration’s likely greatest achievement and Obama boasted that he was leaving behind a “stable” and self-reliant” Iraq. Thus the administration apparently felt the nascent consensual government in Iraq was not the source but the antidote to Middle East instability—which magnified by the abrupt 2011 Obama pullout, the destruction of Libya, the fake redlines in Syria, the promotion of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, the rise of “jayvee” ISIS, the “daylight” between Israel and the US, the failed “special relationship” with Turkey, the invitation to Putin to reinsert Russia into the Middle East, the Iran deal, and on and on.

I have written on Obama and the economy: sadly, he is the first president since Herbert Hoover not to achieve 3% per annum GDP growth; he doubled the debt to $20 trillion in just eight years, and left a near record labor non-participation rate. The recession he inherited from George W. Bush ended in June 2009, suggesting that had he not enacted his agenda, the economy would likely have naturally recovered and robustly in a way it did not for the next eight years.

I don’t think Trump or anyone wishes to “claim credit” for the present economy: despite near record deficits, near zero-interest rates, and massive new federal spending, the economy was never primed—largely because of new regulations, the ACA health mandates, higher taxes, and constant “you didn’t build that” attacks on private enterprise. I assume that explains why the Democratic “blue wall” crumbled in 2016 due to dissatisfaction among Democrats with the status quo.

Trump will either fail or succeed, but we will have to wait at least 4 years for the verdict. If Trump is culpable, I will write just that.

Again, the letter’s venom (“contempt”) is once again thematic of the leftist inability to debate without slurs. Very sad.

Sincerely, VDH

The End Of Identity Politics

by Victor Davis Hanson//via Defining Ideas (Hoover Institution)
 

 Image credit: Barbara Kelley

Who are we? asked the liberal social scientist Samuel Huntington over a decade ago in a well-reasoned but controversial book. Huntington feared the institutionalization of what Theodore Roosevelt a century earlier had called “hyphenated Americans.” A “hyphenated American,” Roosevelt scoffed, “is not an American at all.” And 30 years ago, another progressive stalwart and American historian Arthur Schlesinger argued in his book The Disuniting of America that identity politics were tearing apart the cohesion of the United States.

What alarmed these liberals was the long and unhappy history of racial, religious, and ethnic chauvinism, and how such tribal ties could prove far stronger than shared class affinities. Most important, they were aware that identity politics had never proved to be a stabilizing influence on any past multiracial society. Indeed, most wars of the 20th century and associated genocides had originated over racial and ethnic triumphalism, often by breakaway movements that asserted tribal separateness. Examples include the Serbian and Slavic nationalist movements in 1914 against Austria-Hungary, Hitler’s rise to power on the promise of German ethno-superiority, the tribal bloodletting in Rwanda, and the Shiite/Sunni/Kurdish conflicts in Iraq. Read more →

The Three-Headed Hydra of the Middle East

by Victor Davis Hanson// National Review

Trump has inherited a matrix of problems that primarily stem from Iran, Russia, and ISIS.

The abrupt Obama administration pre-election pullout from Iraq in 2011, along with the administration’s failed reset with Russia and the Iran deal, created a three-headed hydra in the Middle East.

What makes the Middle East monster deadly is the interplay between the Iranian terrorist regime and its surrogates Hezbollah and the Assad regime; Russian president Vladimir Putin’s deployment of bombers into Syria and Iraq after a 40-year Russian hiatus in the region; and the medieval beheaders of the Islamic State. Read more →

The Deplorables Shout Back

Struggling rural America proved disenchanted with the country’s trajectory into something like a continental version of Belgium or the Netherlands: borderless, with a global rather than national sense of self; identity politics in lieu of unity and assimilation; a statist and ossified economy with a few winners moralizing to lots of losers—perhaps as a way of alleviating transitory guilt over their own privilege.

The full lessons of the 2016 election are still being digested (or indeed amplified), but one constant is emerging that the world outside our bi-coastal dynamic, hip, and affluent culture is not very well understood by those who lead the country.

 The Left feels that the interior is a veritable cultural wasteland of obesity, Christianists, nihilist self-destructive behavior, and evenings that shut down at dusk in desperate need of federal moral and regulatory oversight. Read more →

Tear down this dam?

Getty Images

Thousands living downstream from its desperate cascading water releases are evacuating their homes in Hollywood disaster-film fashion. Something premodern and apocalyptic like this was not supposed to have happened in a postmodern California of Google, Hollywood, and Napa Valley wineries.

California’s politicians and pundits in recent years of drought swore the state was entering a cycle of permanent drought (and thus saw no need to start construction on a single dam to store the rain and snow that supposedly would not return). Instead, they warned of the “settled science” of climate change and the need for permanent conservation and restrictions—even as near record storms this year have pushed California’s snow and rain levels in many places to over 200 percent of normal, well beyond the ability of our now ossified water projects to store the deluge that heads out to sea. Read more →

The Oroville Dam disaster is yet another example of California’s decline

PG&E crews work to move two electric transmission line towers as a precaution should the Oroville Dam emergency spillway needs to be used in Oroville, Calif., on Feb. 10. (Los Angeles Times)

By Victor Davis Hanson// Los Angeles Times

A year ago, politicians and experts were predicting a near-permanent statewide drought, a “new normal” desert climate. The most vivid example of how wrong they were is that California’s majestic Oroville Dam is currently in danger of spillway failure in a season of record snow and rainfall. That could spell catastrophe for thousands who live below it and for the state of California at large that depends on its stored water.

The poor condition of the dam is almost too good a metaphor for the condition of the state as a whole; its possible failure is a reflection of California’s civic decline.

The Uses of Populism

by Victor Davis Hanson// National Review

The economy, academia, immigration, and the environment could benefit from Trump’s unorthodox approach.

Populism of the center (as opposed to Bernie Sanders’s socialist populism) has received a bad media rap — given that it was stained in the past by xenophobic and chauvinistic currents. Who wishes to emulate all the agendas of William Jennings Bryan, Huey Long, or Ross Perot? Yet there were some elements of Trump’s populist agenda — mostly concern for redeveloping the industrial and manufacturing base of the American heartland, and with it creating better-paying jobs for globalism’s losers — that were not only overdue but salutary for the Republican party. His idea that broad-based prosperity could diminish tribalism and racial fault lines sought to erode traditional Democratic support. Read more →

California Goes Confederate

by Victor Davis Hanson// National Review

Threatening secession is far from the only thing that the Golden State has in common with the Old South.

Over 60 percent of California voters went for Hillary Clinton — a margin of more than 4 million votes over Donald Trump.

Since Clinton’s defeat, the state seems to have become unhinged over Trump’s unexpected election.

Read more →

Make Haste — Deliberately

by Victor Davis Hanson// National Review

If Trump shows that his actions are a reaction to past extremes, his changes will win public support.

The emperor Augustus who oversaw the transition from the nonstop civil war of a collapsing republic to the Principate — with all the good and bad that such a transition entailed — was fond of quoting the Greek aphorism “Make haste slowly” (σπεῦδε βραδέως / Latin: festina lente).

That seeming paradox of advocating both speed and caution was actually no contradiction at all. The adage instead reminded leaders that swift change can proceed only with careful forethought and deliberation, the same way that a swift crab scurries boldly across the beach but does so well protected in his shell. Read more →

%d bloggers like this: