Victor Davis Hanson Private Papers

‘Dream-Team’ Redux?

Victor Davis Hanson // National Review

There was a lot of pre-hearing hype about the Democrats’ supposedly stellar academic experts, sort of analogous to the giddiness about the “dream team,” “all-stars,” and “hunter-killer” legal eagles that Robert Mueller supposedly had assembled to pick apart the Trump carrion — and they likewise proved a complete dud.

There were a number of errors that reminded us why Pelosi had originally outsourced the impeachment gambit to the duplicitous but cunning Schiff rather than to the bumbling and clueless Nadler and his Judiciary Committee, who has now all but blown up his inquiry in just its initial hours.

1) By stacking the witnesses 3–1 and ignoring Jonathan Turley, the Democrats only hyped the writ against them that they are biased and unfair. Worse still, the Republicans’ witness Turley, former Bush administration critic who had voted against Trump, came across as the far more disinterested. Could not the Democrats have found one pro-Trump professor who had soured on him and now favored impeachment? Does the self-described “snarky” Karlan have any common sense at all — or even an associate with common sense who might have warned her that her canned, preplanned smear of Barron Trump was not just boorish, but a public relations disaster?

2) We are reminded that, outside small captive audiences on campus, academics are not very good public speakers and usually argue on the basis of presumed authority rather than facts and analysis. The three partisans came across as nasal, whiney, emotional, biased, and self-referential — and their past anti-Trump tweets, and partisan careers, clips, and interviews only confirmed the current stereotypes. On Ukraine, they said the same old, same old thing in mostly the same old ways.

And the three came off like those talking academic heads in documentaries, who sometimes wish to make the most of their 2 minutes of fame by turning up the volume and animation. Turley, in contrast, is a cool veteran of televised news analysis. His op-eds are sober and judicious. And he is a skilled public debater, who knows how to keep calm and analytical. He quickly eviscerated the three with apologetic ease — and deferential smiles. So whose bright idea was it to allow three partisan mediocrities to gang up against Turley, whose  rapier thrusts are well known? Americans love underdog odds, but Turley didn’t even break a sweat in leaving gaping holes in almost every argument advanced by the experts and House panel. He may have given the best solo congressional witness performance in modern memory.

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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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