Victor Davis Hanson Private Papers

A Country Unhinged

by Victor Davis Hanson

NRO’s The Corner

In the last week, it is almost as if the entire American moral landscape has been turned upside down in eerie fashion — in matters that vastly transcend fornication and adultery. The Petraeus-gate matter is the stuff of tabloids now; but soon the real issues relating to when and what Eric Holder knew, and by extension the president, and how exactly Benghazi (the crime of indifference to the besieged, the cover-up of the truth, the actual mission of our consulate and annex) fits into this labyrinth of deceit, both petty and fundamental, may overshadow the present sensationalism.

Nothing seems real anymore, not pre-election federal data on jobs or food stamps or the release of such “facts”; not foreign-policy information like an Iranian attack on a drone; not the supposedly competent federal relief in response to Hurricane Sandy. Even Saddam Hussein’s plebiscites could not achieve margins like the 19,605 to 0 we saw in 59 Philadelphia precincts. Does anyone care?

Susan Rice, who flat out deceived five times in a single day on national TV, is supposedly seriously being considered as Secretary of State when Ms. Clinton leaves — the latter now plans to be “busy” when hearings on Libya resume. (If a John Bolton cannot be confirmed as a UN ambassador, how could Rice avoid a filibuster?) How can anyone now read Broadwell’s book and assume the research and analysis are disinterested? How did a single Jill Kelley warrant hundreds of hours of chat time from our highest generals, engaged in a life and death struggle in the war against terror and Afghanistan? Who was not consulted, not advised, not ordered — in order to free up time for Kelley and Broadwell? How could Broadwell, without a journalistic or history pedigree of achievement, warrant such intimate briefings, so much so that she can pontificate on a CIA annex in Benghazi and purportedly have access to classified documents? If she can, who cannot? Why in God’s name does Angelina Jolie get photographed on the seventh-floor office of the CIA? Why even have security clearances when you can learn classified details about our military and intelligence on Facebook or YouTube? How can all this suddenly explode on the scene, just 72 hours after a national election, in a supposedly transparent country with a free, watch-dog media? Have we become a Russia, Venezuela, Cuba? Is there one honest person in Washington left?

When this is all over we are going to see several resignations, even more discredit to what is left of what is now largely a state-run media, and a vivid human face to all the declinist statistical talk of America in material and moral crisis. The state is set for reform like we have never seen it, from those who are not invested in Big Washington, Big Military, Big Intelligence, Big Banks, Big Wall Street, big anything that seems to have developed a toxic careerism in the revolving-door, New York-Washington corridor.

Tragedy or Tragicomedy?

One symptom of this entire tragedy (or is it dark comedy now?) is the shocking degree of casual sorta/kinda rules and protocols — strange (or rather predictable) in this era of vast bureaucratic rules. How exactly did national-security and military affairs come to resemble Keeping Up with the Kardashians?

How can some individual just call up an FBI friend (?) and thereby instigate an FBI investigation? And how did that lead to an FBI agent photographing himself bare-chested and apparently infatuated with a married mother of three? How can a PhD candidate, without any journalistic or historical credentials, become the public face of a four-star general and be privy to information to the point of hitting the lecture circuit to pontificate about a CIA annex in Benghazi? How did an early-middle-aged married mother of two suddenly morph into a court biographer who lectured on everything from military practice to leadership to national-security challenges? How can a Florida socialite by any stretch of the imagination merit a vast email correspondence with the nation’s highest ranking warriors entrusted to conduct our most critical struggles? What in the world is an “honorary consul general” and who extends such Alice Through the Looking Glass titles? Why do generals seek to go back stage to meet a Denzel Washington or have Angelina Jolie pop up for a photo-op?

I think it is impossible that an attorney general who knew of the investigation and many of the details for months did not tell his president and close friend — but then on the other hand, given all of above, who knows?

©2012 Victor Davis Hanson

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About Victor Davis Hanson

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.

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