Victor Davis Hanson Private Papers

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.

 

Apparently progressives have accepted the idea that Barack Obama’s formula of twice winning the Electoral College is not yet transferrable to other progressive candidates such as Hillary Clinton. And they probably have concluded that Obama’s progressive political agenda proved unpopular with voters by 2010 and had to be implemented by ad hoc executive orders — presidential prerogatives now utilized by Donald Trump to overturn the ones Obama issued.

 

A fourth potential pathway to power would be a return to Bill Clinton’s pragmatic agendas of the 1990s. But apparently progressives find that centrist remedy worse than the malady of losing elections — given that during the Obama tenure, more than 1,000 state and local offices were lost to Republicans, in addition to majorities in the House and Senate, and a majority of governorships and legislatures.

 

What next?

 

Trump acts as if he is a Nietzschean figure, assuming that anything that does not destroy him only makes him stronger. And now, slowly, his accusers are becoming the accused.

 

One nagging problem with the progressive case against Trump for purported Russian collusion and obstruction of justice was that members of the Obama administration had more exposure to those allegations than did the political newcomer Trump.

 

Last year, then–FBI director James Comey testified that not only did former attorney general Loretta Lynch improperly meet in secret with Bill Clinton during an investigation of Hillary Clinton, but also that Lynch had asked Comey to downplay the investigation into Hillary’s use of a private e-mail server during her tenure as secretary of state. Comey confessed that he had reluctantly agreed to Lynch’s request.

 

Earlier this month, in testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee, Comey admitted that he asked a friend to leak notes about Comey’s earlier conversation with Trump in hopes of forcing the nomination of a special counsel to lead the Russia investigation — perhaps a successful gambit, given that Comey’s friend, former FBI director Robert Mueller, was soon appointed to that role.

 

Comey also wrongly dismissed Hillary Clinton’s e-mail problems because of a perceived lack of criminal intent — a supposedly mitigating circumstance that legally should have had no bearing on things.

 

As far as alleged Russian collusion, there had long been conservative accusations that Bill and Hillary Clinton used Hillary’s status as secretary of state to leverage honoraria for Bill and donations to the Clinton Foundation in exchange for concessions to Russian interests.

 

Moreover, Russian tampering efforts had been going on for months before the 2016 election, but without any retaliatory measures from the Obama administration, which knew about Russia’s meddling.

 

In an inadvertent hot-mic request in 2012, Obama asked outgoing Russian president Dmitry Medvedev to urge Russian president Vladimir Putin “to give me space” during Obama’s reelection campaign, so that after his assumed success, Obama could reciprocate with “more flexibility” on Russian issues. In the present highly charged climate, would that be seen as a form of Russian collusion?

 

Meanwhile, the House Intelligence Committee is still investigating whether top Obama-administration officials wrongfully used the power of foreign-intelligence collection to conduct surveillance of Americans — particularly members of the Trump campaign.

 

The point is not whether the Clintons, James Comey, Barack Obama, or members of the Obama administration can be proven to have engaged in illegal or unscrupulous behavior.

 

Rather, the lesson is that progressives should have offered alternative political visions that might have won back the American people rather than attempting to terminate the Trump presidency on charges to which the progressive side is far more vulnerable.

 

Now that Trump is emerging from successful House special elections and has fended off six months of media attacks, celebrity invective, and progressive efforts to abort his tenure, he seems to be going back on the offensive.

 

Currently, House and Senate investigations are doing to Democrats what has been done Trump. So far these probes seem to have better chances of proving wrongdoing.

 

What does all this political back-and-forth mean?

 

Democrats struck preemptively to take out Trump before he unwound the Obama legacy. That effort has probably been stalled.

 

The return volley is being launched at a time when an energized Trump is gaining momentum on health care and tax reform, and an improving economy.

 

In sum, to thwart a new president’s policies, it is probably wiser to offer alternative agendas instead of trying to destroy him before he has even entered office.

http://www.nationalreview.com/article/449057/progressives-preemptively-attacked-trump-administration-failed

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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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