Victor Davis Hanson Private Papers

From an Angry Reader:

Mr. Hanson,

You seem intent on defining progressives as people who loathe Donald Trump, as clearly defined group who have a unified strategy of driving him out of office.


The tactic of defining—and dismissing—all progressives with a broad brush is a convenient way to give Trump supporters a clearly defined enemy to hate. That style of rhetoric has more in common with Rush Limbaugh than a respected academician. It is also the type of divisive and overwrought discourse (from both sides) that we are currently awash in.


I am a progressive, which to my mind describes what I am for, not against.


I do deeply regret that, though fairly elected, Donald Trump is our president, but that is unrelated progressivism or conservatism.  Even if I were apolitical I would find President Trump deeply lacking in so many non-ideological ways. He is thin-skinned, untruthful and doesn’t seem to grasp the import of his position and seems to lack the character and intellect for the presidency.


I agree that he is being relentlessly attacked from many quarters (not just progressives), but his detractors do not need a strategy to bring him down. The media does not need to constantly vilify him to destroy his credibility. Simply observing his behavior, listening what he says and reading his tweets is sufficient to irreparably damage his presidency. He will likely bring down his own presidency with very little outside help.



Glenn Shellhouse

Colorado Springs, CO


Victor Davis Hanson’s Reply:

Dear Angry Reader Glenn Shellhouse,
I do not think nor did I write that all progressives wish to drive Trump from office.
But what political rubric would you use for those who wished to subvert the Electoral College, or sued to nullify the voting results in three states, or boycotted the Inauguration, or seek to impeach Trump after 120 days, or to sue him under the Emoluments Clause, or to invoke the 25th Amendment, or seek to trump up false charges of collusion, or obstruction of justice, or demand recusals, or stonewall appointments? Are they reactionaries? Conservatives? Perhaps libertarians? Some generalized rubric is needed.
And what do Madonna, Snoop Dog, Bill Maher, Steven Colbert, etc. have in common? A shared conservative vision?
“An enemy to hate”? Who is using scatology, and the f— word? Who videoed a ritual decapitation, or dreamed of blowing up the White House, or wanted to punch Trump in the face? Independents? Moderates? Palecons?
It seems the vast majority of threats are from the left and their target is Trump, in a way not true of conservatives in their opposition to Obama. I was very critical of Obama’s policies and often polarizing rhetoric. I think he crippled the economy and left us vulnerable abroad, but I never translated that opposition to any personal hatred of the President, and most certainly I would never have gone the CNN or Chris Matthews route. Let us confess, so far the hate is mostly a left-wing phenomenon.
Trump is certainly flawed as you point out. But his agenda is far preferable to the Obama-Clinton trajectory. And we have had pretty creepy presidents in the past. So far Trump is not seducing and bedding 20-something interns as did JFK routinely, or as Bill Clinton frolicked with an unpaid intern of 22 (and then lied about it to the nation and under oath in a deposition). He has not tried to pack the Supreme Court as did FDR, or report book profits as capital gains to escape income taxes, as did Ike. We must in part see Trump’s excesses in a context of past presidencies. I thought de facto suspending federal immigration law was revolutionary and harmful to the state.

Trump is the first president who has neither political nor military service, so obviously the landscape is very different, and of course Trump’s style is over-the-top and often ad hominem. All regrettable. But with Obama the venom was directed at entire groups (“punish our enemies”, “get in their faces”, “take a gun to a knife fight”, the clingers, the “lazy” Americans, etc.).

As to your point of Trump’s self-destructiveness, time shall tell. He certainly is diverted by the trivial, such as two failed morning hosts without an audience. But the Shorenstein Center noted that 80% of all media coverage of Trump was negative, and in the case of CNN, 93%.  We’ve never seen that level of bias before. Nor the level of hatred and assassination talk: celebrities and public figures have variously talked of decapitating Trump, ritually stabbing him, hanging him, blowing him up, shooting him, beating him to a pulp—all without consequences. So, yes, we are in new territory.
Finally the polls, to the degree they are credible after the 2016 fiasco, suggest Trump enjoys only 40%—quite an amazing number actually when 80% of all news coverage is negative.
 Yet the media polls much lower, about 30-35% expressing confidence in journalists.
Trump has exposed the utter corruption of the media (Wikileaks did the same), but in the process he has diverted attention from the real issues at home and abroad. Tweeting is a wise way to communicate directly over  the heads of the media, but only if focused and confined to existential issues.
What you or I think about Trump won’t matter in 2020:  if the economy hits 3% GDP growth, he will be likely reelected, if it does not, he may not even run. Let us wait and watch the issues play out and we will see whether a sharp decrease in illegal immigration, an increase in oil and gas production, less regulation, and lower taxes,  enrich the citizens or impoverish them.  If the former, a crude Trump will win; if the latter, even Trump an angel would still lose.
Victor Hanson
Selma, CA

From an Angry Reader:

Dr. Hanson,
You will not like what I am about to say.
It’s a good thing we’re 3,000 miles apart.  Because if I saw you on the street, I’d …
A threat?  You decide.
Daniel Weir
Washington, DC

Reply from Victor Davis Hanson:

Dear Second-time Angry Reader Daniel Weir,
And if we we’re not 3,000 miles apart, you would do what exactly if you saw me? Resort to physical violence?
In the polarized age of assassination chic and threats against the president and an actual hit on Rep. Scalise, do you really think it is wise to threaten publicly someone with whom you disagree?
 I get a few letters and angry calls like your own, and occasionally a few mad sorts have shown up at my office or farm or follow me around in stores, so your sort of threat is not new.
Victor Hanson
Selma, CA


Lord Ismay, NATO, and the Old-New World Order

by Victor Davis Hanson// National Review


What has become of the prescient post-WWII dictum ‘Russians out, Americans in, Germans down’?


The accomplished and insightful British general Hasting Ismay is remembered today largely because of his famous assessment of NATO, offered when he was the alliance’s first secretary general. The purpose of the new treaty organization founded in 1952, Ismay asserted, was “to keep the Russians out, the Americans in, and the Germans down.”


Ismay formulated that aphorism at the height of a new Cold War. The Soviet Red Army threatened to overrun Western Europe all the way to the English Channel. And few knew who or what exactly could stop it.


A traditionally isolationist United States was still debating its proper role after once again intervening on the winning side in a distant catastrophic European war — only to see its most powerful ally of WWII, Joseph Stalin’s Soviet Union, become the victorious democracies’ most dangerous post-war foe.


A divided Germany had become the new trip wire of the free world against a continental and monolithic nuclear Soviet Union and its bloc.


Nonetheless, note carefully what Ismay did not say.


He did not refer to keeping the “Soviet Union” out of the Western alliance (which the Soviets had once desired to join, a request that Ismay compared to inviting a burglar onto the police force).


Ismay did not cite the need to ensure that Nazi Germany never returned.


He did not insist that the inclusion of Great Britain was essential to NATO’s tripartite mission.


Why? Read more →

From An Angry Reader:

In your recent article you are off base, friend. Every day that passes proves Trump to be unfit in so many ways.
I figure a Trump believer to be either embarrassingly uninformed or purely hypocritical, willing to push a conservative agenda regardless of flag bearer. No doubt you are the latter…
If conservatism was more about fairness instead of protecting the wealth of the very rich, I might even go for that. Minus the current “leader”, of course.

Stop defending him; you clearly are too intelligent to believe he is worthy.

Bill Sellars

Reply from Victor Davis Hanson:

Dear Angry Reader Bill Sellars,

Is “friend” sarcastic? I don’t recall ever meeting a Bill Sellars. Congratulations, you met one of the angry reader criteria: ad hominem (“you are the latter….”) but are to be commended for omitting the usual exclamation marks, capital letters, and profanity.

In the fashion of Barack Obama’s “clingers” and Hillary Clinton’s “deplorables” and “irredeemables,” in your contempt, you are writing off half the country who voted for Trump. I have a number of friends and family members who voted for Hillary, and never resorted to the sort of ad hominem that you and the Left routinely embrace.

No candidate runs solo, but always against someone else. Hillary on every issue—higher taxes, more regulation, restrictions on gas and oil development, open borders, identity politics—was, to paraphrase Obama, on the wrong side of history. She was enmeshed in scandals, shamelessly breaking the law with a private server, destroying documents, trafficking in classified documents. The Wikileaks trove revealed the depths of corruption between her campaign and the sycophantic media. She and her husband had created a net worth of over $200 million, largely by leveraging her political career and offices to earn huge speaking fees, and donations to the foundation, which they manipulated as a source of free travel for themselves and sinecures for their hangers-on. Hillary is “very rich”, and her trajectory started at the beginning of Bill’s Arkansas career, when she leveraged her husband’s governorship to manipulate the cattle futures’ market, earning $100,000 on a $1,000 investment, at odds of over a billion to one.

The “very rich” are mostly liberals. Try looking at counties by per capita income and then look how they voted in the last three elections: your “very rich” are very liberal, largely because they have the capital and income to exempt themselves from the logical consequences of their own ideology. A case in point is socialist Bernie Sanders—with a million-dollar-income, three tony homes, and a wife under investigation for improperly arranging a sweet-heart loan (and she was instrumental in evicting the disabled from the new campus she purchased on her road to bankrupting her college). Why are Silicon Valley, Hollywood, and Wall Street predominately progressives?

Conservatism is about three things: 1) respect for past traditions and customs and emphases on family, religion, and communities, 2) a growing market economy in which free market capitalism creates wealth that enriches everyone—in which one tolerates some inequality because the vast majority is not poor, rather than one being impoverished like everyone else (cf. Cuba, North Korea, Venezuela,  3) a deterrent foreign policy that believes peace is a dividend of bad people being afraid of the consequences of their natural desire to try something stupid against stronger better people.

The Republican Party is mostly a middle class and upper-middle class party; the Democratic Party is now the domain of the subsidized lower middle classes and poor, and the hyper-rich. It despises the middle class for lacking the romance of the distant poor and the middle classes for their supposedly crass and tasteless culture.

Stop stereotyping: you may be too smart to mouth such ossified liberal talking points.

Vic Hanson

Freedom and Tyranny: The Meaning of Independence Day

A reflection amidst the barbecues and fireworks and the paeans to patriotism.

Bruce Thornton is a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center.

The Fourth of July is not just another day off from work. Nor is it just the celebration of our country’s birth, the bold act of the Colonists in challenging the world’s greatest power and creating a government based on freedom and self-rule. On this day 241 years ago the delegates to the Second Continental Congress adopted a document that laid the foundations of the American political order. Sadly, the meaning of the Declaration of Independence has been lost, and the order it created eroded by progressivism.

One of the greatest statements of political philosophy occurs in the preamble to the Declaration:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. ––That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed . . .

Government is a creation of the sovereign people who must consent to its forms and functions. It is thus accountable to the people, and exists primarily to protect their rights, especially freedom, that precede government. These rights are the “unalienable” foundations of our human nature, and come from a “Creator” and the “Laws of Nature and Nature’s God.” They are not gifts of the powerful or any institutions that an elite of wealth or birth create to serve their interests. They cannot justly be taken away by any earthly power, but they can be limited and destroyed by tyranny. Read more →

The Progressive Boomerang

by Victor Davis Hanson// National Review


Not only have progressives failed to take down the president, but they also haven’t offered an alternative agenda.


The progressive strategy of investigating President Donald Trump nonstop for Russian collusion or obstruction of justice or witness tampering so far has produced no substantial evidence of wrongdoing.


The alternate strategy of derailing the new administration before it really gets started hasn’t succeeded either, despite serial efforts to sue over election results, alter the Electoral College vote, boycott the inauguration, delay the confirmation of appointments, demand recusals, promise Trump’s impeachment or removal through the 25th Amendment, and file suit under the Emoluments Clause.


Likewise, a third strategy of portraying Trump as a veritable monster so far has failed in four special elections for House seats. Read more →

Trump’s Morning Joe Tweets

By Victor Davis Hanson
National Review‘s The Corner: The one and only.

Just when the media take-out of Trump has backfired and exposed an endemic absence of journalistic ethics and chronic malpractice, Trump goes on another crass and extraneous Twitter attack against the increasing irrelevant MSNBC morning hosts (who have in turn often unprofessionally attacked him).

The point is not to suggest another “watch your tweets” warning to Trump, but rather a reminder that lots of hoi polloi Trump base supporters are slowly growing tired of the distractions. Read more →

The Islamist Minotaur

By Victor Davis Hanson
Defining Ideas

Image credit: Barbara Kelley

According to Greek myth, the Athenian hero Theseus sailed to Crete to stop the tribute of seven Athenian men and seven women sent every nine years to the distant carnivorous Minotaur in his haunt within the labyrinth beneath the palace of Knossos on Crete.

In various versions of the prehistorical myth, the Athenian King Aegeus had conceded earlier to the attacking Cretan King Minos to surrender the youths as tribute to prevent a wider war. Then his heroic son Theseus came of age and volunteered to stop the scripted slaughter, sailing to Crete, where he slew the Minotaur. And that was that. Read more →

From A Not So Angry Reader:

Dr. Hanson:

I am a frequent listener to the Classicist. After listening to the episode “A Cold Civil War?” I had a few questions. I do not intend this to be inflammatory, I simply do not want to make assumptions about your beliefs. First, do you believe that approximately three million illegal votes were cast in the 2016 presidential election? Second, do you believe that President Obama was born an American citizen?

In the show, you mentioned the varicosity of much of the discourse present today.  I say this not in an attempt change your opinions but rather to provide perspective on the root cause. Much of this stems from different world views. Just as you would be outraged by the oppression an ethnic minority because of their ethnicity. Many people today do not see homosexuality as a choice and therefore see discrimination against them in the same vein as discrimination based on ethnicity. This lens feels applicable to many issues facing society today.

Thank you for your time.




Victor Davis Hanson’s Reply:

Dear Not So Angry Reader John Vincent

Thank you for your reasoned and subtle critique (and without capital letters, obscenity, exclamation points, dots, and ad hominem invective). I shall answer the questions in the order you asked them:

    1. I do not know how many illegal voters cast ballots in 2016, but I believe it may have been a considerable number. Neither Trump nor his critics have ever systematically investigated the controversy. The state of California issues over 800,000 driver’s licenses to illegal aliens, and claims that they are separated from citizen licenses that provide an automatic avenue to voting. I wonder. Nearly two million ballots were issues to deceased voters. The voting rolls are not systematically updated and audited. So yes, I believe improper voting occurs all the time; can you explain how in 2012, 59 voting divisions in Philadelphia recorded zero Romney votes. I find that statistically improbable.

Read more →

What Is the Alternative to Trump Derangement?

by Victor Davis Hanson
National Review

If they weren’t trying to destroy the president, Democrats would have to focus on an agenda most Americans don’t support.

By 1968, voters had tired of the failed Great Society of Lyndon Johnson. Four year later, the 1972 Nixon reelection re-emphasized that a doubled-down McGovern liberalism was even less of a viable agenda.

In that context, in 1974, obsessing on Watergate and a demonized Nixon were wise liberal alternatives to running on a positive left-wing vision, given the growing conservative backlash of the 1970s. Read more →

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