Victor Davis Hanson Private Papers

Trump’s Circular Firing Squad

By Victor Davis Hanson
National Review

Trump and his critics are attacking each other, failing to focus on the only story that counts: the welfare of the United States.

The American political system has never quite seen anything like the current opposition to President Trump and his unusual reaction to it.

We are no longer in the customary political landscape. Usually, the out-of-power opposition — in this case, the Democratic party — offers most of the criticism and all of the alternative policies in order to win in the next election. Instead, Trump has an entire circle of diverse critics shooting at him. But they just as often end up hitting one another — and themselves.

So far, Trump’s most furious Democratic opponents have not been able to offer alternative visions to Trump’s agenda that might help them win back Congress in the 2018 midterm elections. Higher taxes, more government regulations, less gas and oil production, loose immigration policies, and the promotion of identity politics are not really winning issues.

Instead, the aim is to either to remove Trump before his first term is up or to so delegitimize him that he is rendered powerless.

Yet obsessions with Trump often lead to boomerang excesses — mad talk and visuals, from obscene rants to decapitation art — that hurt the attackers more than Trump.

Republicans should have been delighted with control of both houses of Congress, the Supreme Court, state governorships and the legislatures, and the White House. In principle, they laud Trump’s efforts to appoint strict constructionists to the federal courts, to increase oil and gas production, to reform Obamacare and the tax code, and to restore deterrence abroad.

Yet the Republican-controlled Congress is nearly paralyzed. It simply cannot unite to deliver on promised major legislation. Some senators and representatives find Trump too uncouth to support his otherwise agreeable proposals, and they fear (or hope) that he may not finish out his term. Some worry that Trump’s low approval rating might hurt their own reelections. Some are careerists who value getting along more than fighting for the White House agenda.

The result is that when factions of the Republican Congress are not battling one another, they are feuding with Democrats and often with the Trump White House.

One reason Trump has been slow to make major appointments is that he cannot trust the establishment of his own party, many of whom in 2016 signed petitions declaring Trump unfit for office.

At best, some anti-Trump intellectuals and pundits still cannot separate Trump’s conservative agenda (which they privately support) from Trump’s reality-television persona (which they find boorish and beneath the dignity of the presidency). At worst, some are so invested in the idea that Trump would or should fail that their opposition threatens to become an obsessive self-fulfilling prophecy.

The anti-Trump conservative-intellectual establishment also does not quite know where to aim its fire. At Democrats whose agendas they used to oppose? At Congress for supporting or not supporting Trump? At the liberal media that court anti-Trumpers because they find their Trump hatred useful for the time being?

The media have given up on impartial news coverage. Some journalists have announced that Trump is so beyond the pale that he deserves only unapologetic critical treatment. Research has shown that network coverage has been overwhelmingly anti-Trump. So the circular shooting goes on until someone is left standing — or all are too wounded to continue.

At the center of this directed fire is the flamboyant, sometimes polarizing but usually cunning Trump. He is not a stationary target. He constantly ducks and weaves, with a flurry of executive orders, major White House shakeups, and trips throughout Europe and the Middle East, where he often gives good speeches and sometimes is warmly greeted.

The result of the circular firing squad is a crazed shootout where everyone gets hit.

Democrats as of yet have no obvious presidential candidates or even credible spokespeople to make the case against Trump. It is one thing to boast about the supposed buffoonery of Trump but quite another to offer a candidate and an agenda that would rebuild the so-called blue wall of swing states and reverse the results of 2016.

The media are increasingly discredited and poll more poorly than Trump does.

The Republican-majority Congress is likewise even less popular than an unpopular Trump. Conservative voters may remember that Trump beat the unfavorable odds to deliver the White House to Republicans, while those in Congress blew favorable odds by not passing legislation when they enjoyed clear majorities in the House and Senate.

So the circular shooting goes on until someone is left standing — or all are too wounded to continue.

Forgotten in the hail of 360-degree suicide gunfire is the only story that counts: the welfare of the United States.

If Trump improves the economy, creates more jobs and national wealth, achieves energy independence, and restores deterrence abroad, all the wild firing will cease. If not, he and his attackers will finish one another off.

http://www.nationalreview.com/article/449874/donald-trump-his-critics-attacks-must-stop

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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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