by Victor Davis Hanson
Truth or consequences? Obama skated for far worse misdeeds.
Election machines in three states were not hacked to give Donald Trump the election.
There was never a serious post-election movement of electors to defy their constitutional duties and vote for Hillary Clinton.
Nor, once Trump was elected, did transgendered people begin killing themselves in alarming numbers.
Nor were there mass resignations at the State Department upon his inauguration.
Nor did Donald Trump seek an order to “ban all Muslims” from entering the U.S. Instead, he temporarily sought a suspension in visas for everyone, regardless of religion, from seven Middle Eastern states that the Obama administration had earlier identified as incapable of properly vetting travelers to the U.S.
The first lady did not work for an elite escort or prostitute service. She never said that she and young Barron Trump would not be moving to the White House. Barron does not have autism.
Trump’s father never ran racist ads as a supposed candidate in a purported political campaign. Kellyanne Conway denies that in a private conversation between segments on MSNBC, she privately remarked to hosts that she had to take a shower after working for Trump.
Donald Trump never suggested to the Mexican president that the U.S. was going to invade Mexico. Nor did Trump plan to mobilize the National Guard to send back illegal aliens.
He did not remove a Martin Luther King bust from the White House.
There was no evidence that he ever promised to ease Russian sanctions (much less that he promised the Russians he would be “flexible” after he was elected). He did not short the FBI of resources to conduct an investigation into supposed Russian collusion. He did not go to Moscow and watch prostitutes in his bed urinate where Barack Obama had previously slept.
His deputy attorney general did not threaten to resign over the Comey firing.
And we have no idea whether Trump really gets two scoops of ice cream while limiting his guests to one, or pads around in a bathrobe in the early evening, or cannot find the light switch in the White house.
Yet all that is what daily we hear and read.
Meanwhile . . .
Fake news crowds out real news. Here is what we do not read much about: North Korea, long appeased, could well send missiles against our allies, perhaps even with nuclear payloads. Afghanistan is at a crux and will either implode or need more American troops. China’s role is in the balance, and it may or may not help defang North Korea. The greatest tax- and health-reform packages in years are now in the hands of Congress. Executive orders have revolutionized the domestic energy industry and achieved a stunning and historic reduction in illegal immigration. The stock market is soaring, employment is up, and confidence in the economy has returned. Wall Street seems to dip only on talk of impeaching Donald Trump.
And here is what no longer troubles us at all. In 2008, candidate Barack Obama used back channels to communicate flexibility to the Iranians (as in the later assurance he gave, on a hot mic, to the Russians), which may have helped undermine the ongoing Bush-administration negotiations with Iran.
Hillary Clinton set up an illegal server, distributed classified information in an illegal and unsecured fashion, lied about it, and destroyed thousands of e-mails central to an investigation — and got off without an indictment.
In the 2016 election, the head of the DNC conspired to massage the debates and help swing the nomination to the Clinton campaign.
The prior attorney general of the United State met with the spouse of a presidential candidate under investigation, in a stealthy conversation on an airport tarmac, did not inform officials of that meeting until the get-together was discovered by a reporter, semi-recused herself under pressure only to turn over her prosecutorial discretion to the head of the FBI, in a fashion that was both improper and perhaps unconstitutional.
We do not hear how exactly Russian interests at Uranium One obtained market control over 20 percent of U.S. uranium holdings, or the connections between Uranium One and their prior multimillion-dollar donations to the Clinton Foundation, or that the Podesta Group had numerous financial dealings with Russian interests, or that Bill Clinton received $500,000 in 2010 from Russian oligarchic interests while his wife was secretary of state — ten times more than what Michael Flynn was alleged to have received.
We know now that many of the elements of the Iran Deal, the most important foreign-policy decision in the last 20 years, were designed to circumvent Senate ratification and hinged on secret ancillary agreements.
We know that unnamed intelligence officials during the Obama administration surveilled likely political opponents, unmasked their identities, leaked them to the press, either under the assumption that such skullduggery would not surface, or on the pretext that such monitoring was ordinary and involved national security.
We know that Obama’s director of National Intelligence lied under oath to Congress without ramifications. We know that a high IRS official subverted her duties for political purposes in a manner intended to alter the 2012 campaign, took the Fifth Amendment, refuses to testify further before Congress, and faces no consequences other than a plush, taxpayer-funded retirement.
Of course, a media-targeted Donald Trump is weaponizing his enemies by his characteristic blunderbuss approach in interviews. Of course, in anger and without political experience, he tweets too much and says things better left unsaid. Of course, at 70, he has an in-your-face character that is unlike any other president’s and also unlikely to change. He mixes freely truth, rumor, and innuendo.
And of course his superb appointments and Reaganesque approach to foreign affairs, energy production, tax reform, and deregulation are all threatened by his own team’s inability to deal with a dishonest and largely corrupt Washington and New York media.
So Trump boasted and talked trash with the Russians? Terrible and stupid, no doubt. Worse than what Franklin Roosevelt communicated to Winston Churchill about the mass-murdering Stalin? (“I tell you that I think I can personally handle Stalin better than either your Foreign Office or my State Department. Stalin hates the guts of all your top people. He thinks, he likes me better, and I hope he will continue to do so.”) Was Trump more Machiavellian than was Obama, with his “it’s important for him to give me space” requests to Vladimir Putin when he met President Medvedev before the 2012 election and apparently banked his reset policy on his ability to get away with misinforming the public?
All that said, none of the above is a reason to impeach, or remove on medical grounds, an elected president, or to suggest that he resign less than four months into office. Yet we hear exactly that not only from the progressive, in-the-street Left, but from many of the Never Trump Right.
In some sense, we are watching a sort of mass hysteria characteristic of pet-rock or hula-hoop democracy. (It reminds one not so much of the mob that went after Socrates –Trump is no Socrates — but of the mad fury of the French Revolution or the high-water point of the 1950s John Birch movement)
The “Resistance” peddled the yarn that the election tabulations were electronically rigged; then it was an appeal to electors not to do their constitutional duties; then it was reduced to street theater and demonstrations; then it turned to desperate deep-state leaks and media blitzes; now it’s mere hysteria.
The effort to remove the president is conducted by the New York Times, the Washington Post, the wire services, and the major networks. And we have seen nothing like it in our time. In the last six months, Americans have been told quite falsely so many untruths about the Trump administration by their news agencies that for all practical purposes, there is no such thing as a media as we once knew it.
Journalists are not shy about their prejudices. In some cases — James Rutenberg, Jorge Ramos, and Christiane Amanpour — they have admitted their view that the duty of the new media in the era of Trump is not to stay disinterested, but to become political opponents. Some have been exposed as colluding with Hillary Clinton’s campaign in an effort to prevent Trump’s election victory; they tried to keep those efforts secret because they knew what they were doing was unethical and self-interested.
A second effort to achieve a Trump removal is conducted by pop-culture celebrities — who make the Dixie Chicks’ anti-Bush furor of 2003 now look mild. This opposition is waged in a way that would have ruined careers if directed at Barack Obama.
Madonna dreams on Inauguration Day of blowing up the White House. Don Cheadle wanted Trump to die in grease fire. Snoop Dogg videotapes his mock execution of a Trump lookalike. Martha Stewart poses flipping the finger to a picture of Trump while flashing the Victory sign to a photo of the felon and former pimp Snoop Dogg. Icon Robert De Niro said eloquently of Trump: “He’s a punk, he’s a dog, he’s a pig, he’s a con, he’s a bullsh** artist.”
The efforts to demonize and thus delegitimize and so emasculate Trump have reached sick new heights.
On cable television, Bill Maher jokes that Trump’s daughter fellates her father; on national television, Steven Colbert laughs that Trump fellates Vladimir Putin. Mutatis mutandis: Both would have been fired for suggesting the same about the Obama first family.
Ad nauseam Trump is compared to Hitler by the likes of Ashley Judd and Chris Matthews. Hillary Clinton announces she is part of the “Resistance,” a reference supposedly to the French maquis who sought to ambush Vichy officials and SS patrols during the Nazi occupation of France.
The Democratic party — now bereft of political control in most state legislatures and governorships, as well as in the Senate, the House, the presidency and the Supreme Court — has modeled its opposition on 1960s street theater. More than 60 congressional representatives refused to go to the Inauguration. Some call for Trump’s impeachment; others refuse to hold hearings, block nomination appointments, and demand special prosecutors. The California head of the party leads group chants of “F*** Trump” with extended middle fingers.
The Never Trump right has gone from criticism to outright hysteria and is now calling for impeachment or removal on medical incapacity. The subtext of these latest demands is that a Mike Pence — a wonderful man who did not run for president and would never have been elected if he had run — might assume the presidency and return the Republican party to its former supposedly sober and judicious custodians who, after the proper catharsis, might resume their Washington–New York stewardship of the GOP. For these Trump critics, a defeat along the lines of 2008 and 2016 is far preferable to a 2016 victory. Being praised for being good losers is always preferable to being ostracized for being poor winners.
The Obama Standard
I thought — and so wrote — that Barack Obama subverted the Constitution when he refused to enforce federal laws concerning the ACA mandate, illegal immigration, and contractual provisions of the Chrysler bankruptcy.
I felt Obama, as a candidate and a president-elect, was unethically signaling both the Russians and the Iranians through back channels that he would soon be flexible, even as George Bush was conducting foreign policy as our president.
I thought President Obama had no constitutional right to strong-arm Boeing, the Little Sisters of the Poor, or the small Gibson Guitar company. His administration flat-out lied about the Benghazi catastrophe, the Bowe Bergdahl swap, the Iran Deal, and the chemical-weapons depots of Bashar al-Assad.
The Obama administration endangered U.S. security by yanking peacekeepers out of Iraq for a cheap campaign talking point, by destroying Libya without a follow-up plan, by setting faux red lines and deadlines, by allowing China to create an artificial island base to adjudicate trans-Pacific sea traffic, by appeasing and resetting relations with Vladimir Putin, and by turning a blind eye to North Korean stepped-up aggression. When the president of the United States promises the Russians that he will be more flexible after an election, the message is that he soon plans to do things that, if known, would likely cost him a victory with the American voters.
Obama high-fived the bin Laden raid to the extent of revealing classified protocols and turning over to pet reporters and Hollywood filmmakers some of the trove of bin Laden’s al-Qaeda communications, in hopes of advancing party-line narratives.
His administration helped ruin the reputations of the IRS and the VA. His DOJ went after an obscure video maker and the journalist Dinesh D’Souza largely for reasons of political reprisal and deterrence. His team ordered illegal surveillance of AP reporters and Fox News’s James Rosen; it may well have surveilled and unmasked political opponents and leaked their names to the media.
Obama invited a felon with a parole ankle bracelet into the White House and praised a visiting rapper whose latest album cover celebrated the murder of a white judge, whose corpse was being toasted over by rappers.
Obama was degreed but not educated; he could not pronounce “corpsmen,” had no idea how many states there were in the Union, and thought Hawaii was in Asia and the Falklands Islands off the coast of India. The media demurred — based in some cases on the finery of Obama’s pants crease or his rhetorical ability to cause electrical sensations in one’s leg — and announced him a god, the smartest president ever to enter office. Obama himself in 2008 buffoonishly announced his power to lower global temperatures and the seas, and declared himself more adroit than all his own political handlers and aides in all of their respective jobs.
Obama’s deputy national-security adviser admitted that the administration had misled the press on the Iran Deal by creating an artificial “echo chamber” among media naïfs. Obama’s comments about Trayvon Martin and the Skip Gates affair were incendiary and in line with his campaign smears about the clingers or his calls to supporters to take a gun to a knife fight and “get in their face.”
And yet, for all that and more, Barack Obama certainly did not warrant articles of impeachment; he was not unhinged, nor did he offer any evidence of medical incapacity. He would not deserve to have his family smeared with jokes about incest or autism. Any Madonna-like talk of blowing him up in the White House would have been obscene, perhaps illegal, and probably grounds for prosecution.
We are now watching insidious regime change, aimed at removing the president of the United States not because of what he has done so far, but because of his personality and what he might do to the Obama agenda — and because for a variety of cultural reasons, our elite simply despises his very being.