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A Blow to the Non-Elite Elite

By Victor Davis Hanson// National Review
Biased and incompetent elites polluted the 2016 election, and they are getting what they deserved.
There were a lot of losers in this election, well beyond Hillary Clinton and the smug, incompetent pollsters and know-it-all, groupthink pundits who embarrassed themselves.
From hacked e-mail troves we received a glimpse of the bankrupt values of Washington journalists, lawyers, politicians, lobbyists, and wealthy donors. Despite their brand-name Ivy League degrees and 1 percenter résumés, dozens of the highly paid grandees who run our country and shape our news appear petty and spiteful — and clueless about the America that exists beyond their Beltway habitat.
Leveraging rich people for favors and money seems an obsession. They brag about wealth and status in the fashion of preteens.
Journalists often violated their own ethics codes during the campaign. Political analyst Donna Brazile even leaked debate topics to the Clinton team. Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank reportedly asked the Democratic National Committee to provide him with anti-Trump research.
Reading about the characters who inhabit the Clinton campaign e-mail trove, one wonders about the purpose of their Yale degrees, their tenures at Goldman Sachs, even their very stints in the Clinton campaign. Was the end game to lose their souls?
One big loser is the Obama Justice Department — or rather the very concept of justice as administered by the present administration. It has gone the tainted way of the IRS, VA, and NSA. The Justice Department clearly pressured the FBI to limit its investigation of pay-for-play corruption at the Clinton Foundation and the State Department.

Seemingly every few weeks of the campaign, FBI director James Comey flip-flopped — depending on whether the most recent pressure on him came from rank-and-file FBI agents, the Clinton campaign, or his boss, Attorney General Loretta Lynch.
Lynch met with Bill Clinton in a secret “accidental” encounter on an airport tarmac while Hillary Clinton was under investigation. Immunity was granted to several Clinton aides without the FBI obtaining much cooperation in return. Clinton techies invoked the Fifth Amendment in refusing to testify before Congress.
Clinton campaign organizer John Podesta was in direct contact with his old friend, Peter Kadzik, a high-ranking Justice Department official who was tipping off the Clinton campaign about an impending hearing and a legal filing regarding Clinton’s e-mails. Until he was reassigned, Kadzik was in charge of the Justice Department’s probe of the Huma Abedin/Anthony Weiner e-mail trove.
A special prosecutor should have been appointed. But Democrats and Republicans alike had long ago soured on the use of special prosecutors. Democrats felt that Ken Starr went way beyond his mandates in pursuing Bill Clinton’s excesses. Republicans charged that Lawrence Walsh’s investigation of the Iran-Contra affair had turned into a witch hunt.
But now, it is clear why there was — and still is — a need for special prosecutors in some instances. In an election year, the Obama Justice Department certainly cannot investigate Obama’s former secretary of state and heir to the Obama presidency — much less itself.
Another election casualty is the practice of extended voting. The recent trend to open state polls early and over several days is proving a terrible idea. Campaigns (think 1980, 1992, and 2000) are often not over until the last week. When millions of people vote days or even weeks before Election Day, what the candidates say or do in the critical final days becomes irrelevant. When a candidate urges citizens, “Vote early,” it is synonymous with, “Vote quickly, before more dirt surfaces about my ongoing scandals.”
Voting should return to a single event, rather than becoming a daily tracking poll.
President Obama lost big-time as well. He emerged from his virtual seclusion to campaign on behalf of Clinton in a way never before seen with a sitting president. By Election Day, Obama had resorted to making fun of Donald Trump’s baseball hats, and he took the low road of claiming that Trump would tolerate the Ku Klux Klan.
While encouraging Latinos to vote during an interview with actress Gina Rodriguez, Obama seemingly condoned voting by illegal immigrants when he said that Immigration and Customs Enforcement would not be investigating voter rolls. A Trump victory, along with a Republican majority in both houses of Congress, is a repudiation of the Obama administration’s legacy and its effort to navigate around the law. The high-tech industry and Silicon Valley lost as well.
The new high-tech class prides itself on its laid-back attitude rather than its super-wealth — casual clothes, hip tastes, and cool informality. But in fact, we have learned from WikiLeaks that the 21st-century high-tech aristocracy is more conniving and more status-conscious — and far more powerful — than were Gilded Age capitalists such as John D. Rockefeller and Andrew Carnegie.
Billionaire CEO Eric Schmidt of Google advised the Clinton campaign to hire “low-paid” urban campaign operatives, apparently in hopes that his efforts would earn him some sort of informal Svengali advisory role in a hoped-for Clinton administration. A leaked e-mail from tech executive Sheryl Sandberg revealed that Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg wanted to meet with people on the Clinton team who could help him understand “political operations to advance public-policy goals.”
It became easy to say that a “crude” Trump and a “crooked” Clinton polluted the 2016 campaign. The real culprits were a corrupt Washington elite, who were as biased as they were incompetent — and clueless about how disliked they were by the very America they held in such contempt.
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About victorhanson

Victor Davis Hanson is the Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow in Residence in Classics and Military History at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, a professor of Classics Emeritus at California State University, Fresno, and a nationally syndicated columnist for Tribune Media Services. He is also the Wayne & Marcia Buske Distinguished Fellow in History, Hillsdale College, where he teaches each fall semester courses in military history and classical culture. He recently published an historical novel The End of Sparta (2012), a realistic retelling of Epaminondas invasion and liberation of Spartan-control Messenia. In The Father of Us All (2011), he collected earlier essays on warfare ancient and modern. His upcoming history The Savior Generals(2013) analyzes how five generals in the history of the West changed the course of battles against all odds. He was awarded the National Humanities Medal in 2007 and the Bradley Prize in 2008. Hanson, who was the fifth successive generation to live in the same house on his family’s farm, was a full-time orchard and vineyard grower from 1980-1984, before joining the nearby CSU Fresno campus in 1984 to initiate a classical languages program. In 1991, he was awarded an American Philological Association Excellence in Teaching Award, which is given yearly to the country’s top undergraduate teachers of Greek and Latin. Hanson has been a National Endowment for the Humanities fellow at the Center for Advanced Studies in the Behavioral Sciences, Stanford, California (1992-93), a visiting professor of classics at Stanford University (1991-92), a recipient of the Eric Breindel Award for opinion journalism (2002), an Alexander Onassis Fellow (2001), and was named alumnus of the year of the University of California, Santa Cruz (2002). He was also the visiting Shifrin Professor of Military History at the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland (2002-3). He received the Manhattan Institute’s Wriston Lectureship in 2004, and the 2006 Nimitz Lectureship in Military History at UC Berkeley in 2006. Hanson is the author of hundreds of articles, book reviews, scholarly papers, and newspaper editorials on matters ranging from ancient Greek, agrarian and military history to foreign affairs, domestic politics, and contemporary culture. He has written or edited 17 books, including Warfare and Agriculture in Classical Greece (1983; paperback ed. University of California Press, 1998); The Western Way of War (Alfred Knopf, 1989; 2d paperback ed. University of California Press, 2000); Hoplites: The Ancient Greek Battle Experience (Routledge, 1991; paperback., 1992); The Other Greeks: The Family Farm and the Agrarian Roots of Western Civilization(Free Press, 1995; 2nd paperback ed., University of California Press, 2000);Fields without Dreams: Defending the Agrarian Idea (Free Press, 1996; paperback, Touchstone, 1997; The Bay Area Book reviewers Non-fiction winner for 1996); The Land Was Everything: Letters from an American Farmer (Free Press, 2000; a Los Angeles Times Notable book of the year); The Wars of the Ancient Greeks (Cassell, 1999; paperback, 2001); The Soul of Battle (Free Press, 1999, paperback, Anchor/Vintage, 2000); Carnage and Culture (Doubleday, 2001; Anchor/Vintage, 2002; a New York Times bestseller); An Autumn of War (Anchor/Vintage, 2002); Mexifornia: A State of Becoming (Encounter, 2003),Ripples of Battle (Doubleday, 2003), and Between War and Peace (Random House, 2004). A War Like No Other: How the Athenians and Spartans Fought the Peloponnesian War, was published by Random House in October 2005. It was named one of the New York Times Notable 100 Books of 2006. Hanson coauthored, with John Heath, Who Killed Homer? The Demise of Classical Education and the Recovery of Greek Wisdom (Free Press, 1998; paperback, Encounter Press, 2000); with Bruce Thornton and John Heath, Bonfire of the Humanities (ISI Books, 2001); and with Heather MacDonald, and Steven Malanga, The Immigration Solution: A Better Plan Than Today’s (Ivan Dee 2007). He edited a collection of essays on ancient warfare, Makers of Ancient Strategy (Princeton University Press, 2010). Hanson has written for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, International Herald Tribune, New York Post, National Review, Washington Times, Commentary, The Washington Post, Claremont Review of Books, American Heritage, New Criterion, Policy Review, Wilson Quarterly, Weekly Standard, Daily Telegraph, and has been interviewed often on National Public Radio, PBS Newshour, Fox News, CNN, and C-Span’s Book TV and In-Depth. He serves on the editorial board of the Military History Quarterly, and City Journal. Since 2001, Hanson has written a weekly column for National Review Online, and in 2004, began his weekly syndicated column for Tribune Media Services. In 2006, he also began thrice-weekly blog for Pajamas Media, Works and Days. Hanson was educated at the University of California, Santa Cruz (BA, Classics, 1975, ‘highest honors’ Classics, ‘college honors’, Cowell College), the American School of Classical Studies, Athens (regular member, 1978-79) and received his Ph.D. in Classics from Stanford University in 1980. He divides his time between his forty-acre tree and vine farm near Selma, California, where he was born in 1953, and the Stanford campus.

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