Victor Davis Hanson Private Papers

Oh, We Forgot to Tell You . . .

by Victor Davis Hanson

Tribune Media Services

The second-term curse goes like this: A president (e.g., Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, etc.) wins re-election, but then his presidency implodes over the next four years — mired in scandals or disasters such as Watergate, Iran-Contra, Monica Lewinsky, the Iraqi insurgency and Hurricane Katrina.

Apparently, like tragic Greek heroes, administrations grow arrogant after their re-election wins. They believe that they are invincible and that their public approval is permanent rather than fickle.

The result is that Nemesis zeroes in on their fatal conceit and with a boom corrects their hubris. Or is the problem in some instances simply that embarrassments and scandals, hushed up in fear that they might cost an administration an election, explode with a fury in the second term?

Coincidentally, right after the election we heard that Iran had attacked a US drone in international waters.

Coincidentally, we just learned that new food stamp numbers were “delayed” and that millions more became new recipients in the months before the election.

Coincidentally, we now gather that the federal relief effort following Hurricane Sandy was not so smooth, even as New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Barack Obama high-fived it. Instead, in Katrina-like fashion, tens of thousands are still without power or shelter two weeks after the storm.

Coincidentally, we now learn that Obama’s plan of letting tax rates increase for the “fat cat” 2 percent who make over $250,000 a year would not even add enough new revenue to cover 10 percent of the annual deficit. How he would get the other 90 percent in cuts, we are never told.

Coincidentally, we now learn that the vaunted Dream Act would at most cover only about 10 percent to 20 percent of illegal immigrants. As part of the bargain, does Obama have a post-election Un-Dream Act to deport the other 80 percent who do not qualify since either they just recently arrived in America, are not working, are not in school or the military, are on public assistance, or have a criminal record?

Coincidentally, now that the election is over, the scandal over the killings of Americans in Libya seems warranted due to the abject failure to heed pleas for more security before the attack and assistance during it. And the scandal is about more than just the cover-up of fabricating an absurd myth of protestors mad over a 2-month-old video — just happening to show up on the anniversary of 9/11 with machine guns and rockets.

The real postelection mystery is why we ever had a secondary consulate in Benghazi in the first place, when most nations had long ago pulled their embassies out of war-torn Libya altogether.

Why, about a mile from the consulate, did we have a large CIA-staffed “annex” that seems to have been busy with all sorts of things other than providing adequate security for our nearby diplomats?

Before the election, the media was not interested in figuring out what Ambassador Christopher Stevens actually was doing in Benghazi, what so many CIA people and military contractors were up to, and what was the relationship of our large presence in Libya to Turkey, insurgents in Syria and the scattered Gadhafi arms depots.

But the strangest “coincidentally” of all is the bizarre resignation of American hero Gen. David Petraeus from the CIA just three days after the election — apparently due to a long-investigated extramarital affair with a sort of court biographer and her spat with a woman she perceived as a romantic rival.

If the affair was haphazardly hushed up for about a year, how exactly did Petraeus become confirmed as CIA director, a position that allows no secrets, much less an entire secret life?

How and why did the FBI investigate the Petraeus matter? To whom and when did it report its findings? And what was the administration reaction?

Coincidentally, if it is true that Petraeus can no longer testify as CIA director to the House and Senate intelligence committees about the ignored requests of CIA personnel on the ground in Benghazi for more help, can he as a private citizen testify more freely, without the burdens of CIA directorship and pre-election politics?

It has been less than two weeks since the election, and Obama seems no exception to the old rule that for administrations which manage to survive their second terms, almost none seem to enjoy them.

The sudden release of all sorts of suppressed news and “new” facts right after the election creates public cynicism.

The hushed-up, fragmentary account of the now-unfolding facts of the Libyan disaster contributes to further disbelief.

The sudden implosion of Petraeus — whose seemingly unimpeachable character appears so at odds with reports of sexual indiscretion, a lack of candor and White House backstage election intrigue — adds genuine public furor.

The resulting mix is toxic, and it may tax even the formidable Chicago-style survival skills of Obama and the fealty of a so far dutiful media.

©2012 Victor Davis Hanson

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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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