Victor Davis Hanson Private Papers

Anatomy of 2020: Weighing Issues, Candidates, and the State of Our Union

Victor Davis Hanson // National Review

In the 20th century, no Congress brought impeachment proceedings against a first-term president facing a reelection. Both the Nixon and Clinton efforts were aimed at reelected presidents, perhaps on the theory that there was supposedly no other means of bringing them to account once they had been elected twice.

In contrast, Trump faces reelection in about a year. The prevailing mood may soon be just to let the voters adjudicate his purported sins and for a year allow the Congress to get back to — or begin — governing.

The makeup of the Senate matters. Nixon resigned before House impeachment because he feared that, if he were impeached, there might be enough Republican senators to give the Democratic majority a possible two-thirds vote in the Senate to convict him, given that the media hated his guts and the economy was souring and draining public support.

Bill Clinton knew that impeachment, facts aside, did not matter much, because the Republican Senate majority was never going to find the necessary votes to convict him, the media was on his side, and the economy was still robust.

In Trump’s case, there is little likelihood that a Republican Senate majority will lose control of its membership to render a two-thirds majority guilty vote. The economy is strong, and impeachment will become unpopular when the public knows that it will not, and cannot, remove a president. The Democrats are more likely seeking a symbolic 51 percent conviction vote, and a year of “the walls are closing in” anti-Trump chant in the press.

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Our Bankrupt Nomenklatura

Victor Davis Hanson // American Greatness

Donald Trump is now in the midst of another coup frenzy that has the Left accusing him of being crazy. But he already took the Montreal Cognitive Assessment Test. It was a simple cognitive exam and he aced it, as would most people. The Left, remember, had called in a Yale psychiatrist to testify that Trump was demented, during the lulls between the first impeachment, the serial “Russian collusion” hoaxes, the emoluments clause psychodrama and Robert Mueller’s “walls-are-closing-in,” “turning-point,” and “bombshell” investigation.

Perhaps the wrong public figures took the test.

At times, former Vice President Joe Biden is unaware of which town, indeed which state, he is in. He slurs his words often. Biden strings together unconnected thoughts that result in utter incoherence—not alleviated by his near shouting emphatics or fits of pique at reporters.

Sometimes, Biden forgets names, and referents, and appears befuddled generally. His biography is mythical. He cannot address Ukraine and the role of his son, Hunter Biden, because, after all, what would a truthful person say? That the vice president of the United States allowed his wastrel son to become a multimillionaire by leveraging his father’s office with foreign corrupt governments? And was Biden’s moral lapse atypical, or rather reflective of prior ethical laxities that destroyed his two earlier presidential bids when he variously lied about his bio, plagiarized, and used a variety of racially insensitive remarks of the sort that would have characterized most others as racists.

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Our Untenable Alliance with Turkey

Victor Davis Hanson // National Review

There are about 5,000 members of the U.S. military, mostly airmen, stationed at the huge, strategically located air base in Incirlik, Turkey, northwest of the Syrian border.

The American forces at Incirlik are also the custodians of about 50 B61 nuclear bombs. Data on these weapons is classified, but at their maximum yield each is ten times more powerful than the bomb dropped on Hiroshima, according to Stars and Stripes.

It’s a “Dr. Strangelove” scenario: No one quite knows how the American contingent could manage to secretly remove the deadly nukes from their concrete vaults, bring them out to the tarmac, load them on planes and fly them out safely over Turkish objections.

Turkey in the past has threatened to go nuclear itself should the U.S. ever dare to transfer the lethal arsenal. Apparently, Turkey’s theory is that possession of bombs in one’s territory is nine-tenths of the law of nuclear weapons ownership.

In the aftermath of the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974, which led to a U.S. arms embargo, Turkey shut down all U.S. operations at Incirlik. American forces were expelled for three years — until Washington caved and resumed arms supplies.

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Universities Breed Anger, Ignorance, and Ingratitude

Victor Davis Hanson // National Review

What do widely diverse crises such as declining demography, increasing indebtedness, Generation Z’s indifference to religion and patriotism, static rates of home ownership, and a national epidemic of ignorance about American history and traditions all have in common?

In a word, 21st-century higher education.

A pernicious cycle begins even before a student enrolls. A typical college-admission application is loaded with questions to the high-school applicant about gender, equality, and bias rather than about math, language, or science achievements. How have you suffered rather than what you know and wish to learn seems more important for admission. The therapeutic mindset preps the student to consider himself a victim of cosmic forces, past and present, despite belonging to the richest, most leisured, and most technologically advanced generation in history. Without a shred of gratitude, the young student learns to blame his ancestors for what he is told is wrong in his life, without noticing how the dead made sure that almost everything around him would be an improvement over 2,500 years of Western history.

Once admitted, students take classes from faculty who, polls reveal, are roughly 90 percent liberal. According to one recent survey, Democrat professors on average outnumber Republican faculty by a 12-to-1 ratio on the nation’s supposedly diverse campuses. But such political asymmetries are magnified by a certain progressive messianic self-righteousness that turns the lectern into the pulpit, the captive class into a congregation. The rare conservative professor is more resigned to the tragedy of the universe and, in live-and-let-live fashion, vacates the campus arena to the left-wing gladiators who wish to slay any perceived heterodoxy.

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Why Do They Hate Him So?

Victor Davis Hanson // American Greatness

Joe Biden claims he wants to take Trump behind the gym and beat him up.

Senator Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) jokes that she would like to go into an elevator with him and see Trump never come out alive. Robert De Niro has exhausted the ways in which he dreams of punching Trump out and the intonations in which he yells to audiences, “F—k Trump!”

The humanists and social justice warriors of Hollywood, from Madonna to Johnny Depp, cannot agree whether their elected president should be beheaded, blown up, stabbed, shot, or incinerated. All the Democratic would-be presidential nominees agree that Trump is the worst something-or-other in history—from human being to mere president.

Former subordinates like Anthony Scaramucci, Omarosa, and Michael Cohen insist that he is a racist, a sexist, a crook, a bully, or mentally deranged—and they all support their firsthand appraisals on the basis they eagerly worked for him and were unceremoniously fired by him.

The so-called deep state detests him. An anonymous op-ed writer in the September 5, 2018 New York Times bragged about the bureaucracy’s successful efforts to ignore Trump’s legal mandates—a sort of more methodical version of the comical Rosenstein-McCabe attempt to stage a palace coup and remove Trump, or the Democrats efforts to invoke the 25th Amendment and declare Trump crazy, bolstered by an array of Ivy League psychiatrists who had neither met nor examined him.

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Is America Becoming Sinicized?

Victor Davis Hanson // National Review

Alittle over 40 years ago, Chinese Communist strongman and reformer Deng Xiaoping began 15 years of sweeping economic reforms. They were designed to end the disastrous, even murderous planned economy of Mao Zedong, who died in 1976.

The results of Deng’s revolution astonished the world. In four decades, China went from a backward basket case to the second-largest economy on the planet. It lifted hundreds of millions of Chinese into the global middle class.

Deng’s revolution came at a cost of terrible environmental damage, the rampant destruction of local communities, and continued political repression. A more efficient economy empowered dictatorship.

Abroad, China systematically violated every tenet of international trade and commerce. It stole copyrights and patents. It ran up huge trade surpluses. It dumped products at below the cost of production to hook international customers. It threatened critics with boycotts, divestments, and expulsions. It manipulated its currency. It demanded technology transfers from companies doing business in China. It created a vast espionage network in Western countries to steal technology. And it increasingly bullied and threatened its Asian neighbors.

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Kurdish, Syrian, and Turkish Ironies

Victor Davis Hanson // National Review

Outrage met Donald Trump’s supposedly rash decision to pull back U.S. troops from possible confrontational zones between our Kurdish friends in Syria and Recep Erdogan’s expeditionary forces.

Turkey claims that it will punish the Syrian Kurds for a variety of supposed provocations, including aiding and abetting Kurdish terrorist separatists inside Turkey. But what they say they can so easily do and what they really can do inside Syria are, of course, two different things.

A Noble People
Most Americans in general favor the Kurds and oppose the Turks. Aside from Israel, Kurds are about the only American allies in the Middle East who predictably fight alongside our troops against Islamists, theocrats, and Baathists. They admire Americans, and for the most part they do not indulge in the normal anti-American histrionics. They despise ISIS as much we do and are on the front lines combatting ISIS atrocities.

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On the Whistleblower Kerfuffle, Imagine a Different Scenario

Victor Davis Hanson // National Review

Imagine . . .

If in early 2015, some White House staffers transcribing confidential presidential calls were disturbed about one conversation that President Obama had with Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif. The two allegedly had confidentially discussed the staggered release of some $1.7 billion in withheld U.S. dollars to Iran — as an understood exchange for the release of 4 American hostages, $400 million of which was to be delivered, in an unmarked cargo plane at night, and in various currencies to Tehran.

The payments were allegedly to take place in the general context of the ongoing “Iran Deal” nuclear nonproliferation negotiations, and a time when Iranian-funded Hezbollah was staging terrorist operations in Syria and from Lebanon.

Imagine further that a few of the insider staffers/transcribers talked about their worries over such a quid pro quo and the disconnect between what their president was saying to the Iranians and what the administration was denying to the press. And they were further outraged because such payments were hidden from the public and in apparent violation of US policy prohibiting cash payments for hostage releases.

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The Strategies of Targeting Trump

Victor Davis Hanson // American Greatness

There is no logical Democratic explanation for impeaching Donald Trump. The various factions within the Democratic Party calling for impeachment are united only by their loathing of Donald Trump, the person, and his systematic repeal of the Obama progressive project.

After failing with the voting machine gambit, the Logan Act, the 25th Amendment, the emoluments clause, the McCabe-Rosenstein faux-coup, the Comey memos farce, the “resistance” efforts outlined by the New York Times anonymous op-ed writer, the campaign finance violations accusations, Stormy, tax returns, whistleblowers, leakers, the Mueller 22 months charade, and now impeachment 2.0, what exactly is the point of impeaching Trump just 13 months before the election?

Here are the various rationales behind Trump’s Democratic and leftwing opponents’ latest “whistleblower” hoax. None of these scenarios are mutually exclusive.

The Primal Scream? 

There doesn’t have to be a point to impeachment. Democrats loathe Trump. That is enough. They would have impeached him on day one of his presidency before he set foot in the White House but they did not have control of the House. Now they do, so they can. Who cares whether he is convicted in the Senate? House members just want to go on record that they impeached him and put an asterisk on his presidency at worst, and at best drive his polls down to prevent his reelection.

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Anti-Trump Psychodrama 10.0?

Victor Davis Hanson // National Review

What do the Kavanaugh hearings, Jussie Smollett, the Covington kids, the Mueller investigation, and now the Trump phone call all have in common?

Staged melodrama, media collusion hysteria, progressive demands that justice be served immediately, promises of walls-are-closing-in blockbuster revelations from new witnesses, supposed surprise revelatory documents, fusions between Democratic politicians and Washington bureaucrats — and then bust, nada, and teeth-gnashing as the truth catches up to various rumor-mongers.

The disgraced purveyors of lies — a Christine Blasey Ford, Michael Avenatti, Nathan Phillips, Jussie Smollet, Adam Schiff — for a time go mute, content with progressives’ praise that they lied for a moral cause and almost pulled it off.

The particular narrative is not all that important, at least compared with a general overriding theme: We are in a virtual civil war, and the Left believes that it can win over the hearts and minds of 20 to 30 percent of the swing voters in the United States with therapeutic tales of racism, sexism, unearned white privilege, and right-wing greed and selfishness, and also by destroying the elected president. Particular events in the news are warped and twisted, to the degree that they can be, to serve that narrative — on the principle that the superior moral end of ensuring a radical equality of result more than justifies the often tawdry and dishonest means to achieve it.

Christine Blasey Ford’s recovered-memory accusations that a teenaged Brett Kavanaugh, nearly 40 years ago, had assaulted her were not corroborated by any firsthand witnesses, and Ford provided no reliable information on the place or date of the alleged assault. The investigation did turn up plenty of contradictory evidence, including denials from her closest friends and from people she herself named as witnesses to the alleged attack.

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