Victor Davis Hanson // VDH’s Blade of Perseus
Part Two: The Phoenix Trump?
August is not January. In politics even a week is a lifetime.
Mirabile dictu, Trump’s banishment from social media, means far less of his scattergun tweeting. His memos were rarer, his thoughts better composed. Although the media monopolized the public image of Trump, its own ratings—NPR/PBS/CNN/MSNBC/network news—dived. Without their daily fix of getting high on hate Trump, the media went through withdrawal, shaking, sputtering, and unwatched.
So the more Trump was quiet, the more the on-spec and tiring Trump-under- every-American-bed obsessions became boring. Brian Stelter was reduced to broadcasting in his shorts. Leftwing Trump haters had no more Trump car crashes to tune in for, and so tired of Joy Reid or Nicolle Wallace, who, as Zombies, staggered on air looking for the evil, but now missing Trump.
The January 6 assault was a spontaneous riot, but not an “armed insurrection.” In other words, the more the Left beat January 6 to death, the more its own lies and propaganda surfaced. There were no “armed” protestors arrested in possession of, or using, a firearm. The question whether there were FBI informants in the mob, or what in the blank were the lax Capitol Police doing, remains unanswered. There were, as yet, no “insurrectionist” architects found with plans of a hostile takeover of the capitol. (Plastic Lego models of the Capitol don’t count). January 6 was not, as the Pelosi mob barked, the “worst” (fill in the blanks) since 9/11. Or was it Pearl Harbor redux? See Bruce Thornton’s incisive article on such ridiculous hype.
Officer Brian Sicknick was not “murdered” by a Trump supporter, but tragically died from apparent natural causes a day later.
The “Five Dead!” headlines were misleading: 4 were Trump supporters. Only one died at the deliberate hand of another: unarmed, tiny and 14-year military veteran Ashli Babbitt. She was shot while illegally entering through a window in the Capitol by an as yet unnamed police officer. In a first, the media and authorities released zero information about an officer who fatally shot an unarmed woman, while other more heavily armed officers looked on and apparently saw no such existential danger.
If the media had Deified the unarmed, but dying in custody George Floyd, who had been arrested on suspicion of feloniously passing a counterfeit bill, while on drugs resisting arrest, with a lengthy arrest record, they Satanized the fatally shot, but equally unarmed Babbitt as some lunatic treasonous existential threat, who got what she deserved in the act of committing a likely misdemeanor of forcible trespassing, or failing to follow a law enforcement order to disperse. The only constant in the two antithetical narratives were the media’s interests in inciting racial discord, by spreading the lies of a national police epidemic of killing unarmed blacks while in custody, and the mounting threat of alt-right, white insurrectionists bursting through every window in America.
The Democrats politicized the hearings on the riot. Inadvertently, they raised the obvious question—are not 120 days of rioting, looting, and arson, $2 billion in damage, 25-30 dead, and attacks on government police precincts and a federal courthouse, somewhat commensurate to the unfortunate one-day riot in Washington? Would not, post facto, some barbed wire, some fencing, some 25,000 federal troops be justified in reaction to the 2020 serial violence, given all that and more was the government’s reaction to the January 6 riot?
Then we come to Biden himself. The Republican hierarchy feared Biden would play his old fake Joe-the-moderate role from the Obama VP years, and claim Trump’s achievements as his own. But mysteriously, Biden ceased that imagery within weeks, overturned all of Trump’s initiatives, and thus showed the nation his un-Midas touch.
Biden, or rather Dr. Jill Biden and Joe’s consigliere Ron Klain, went whole-hog socialist. They kept their Faustian bargain with the AOC crowd (“Please get out the Sanders/ Warren/Squad Left vote on election day and we will give you all you wish.”).
Biden’s cognitive challenges progressed geometrically not arithmetically. So he was not just again more incoherent in May than in April, but lots more, just as he was lots more non compos mentis in June than in May, and so each month. In other words, Biden’s mind descended at the same rate inflation ascended.
Just as importantly, so far anti-Trump potential presidential candidates have stayed low. Nikki Haley put her toe in the anti-Trump waters only to request penance from Trump when it was bitten off by MAGA sharks.
Liz Cheney was given one pass for her purported “vote of conscience,” given her prior strong pro-Trump voting record and her high-profile role in the House. But soon a moment of apostasy became orthodox Trump hatred, and then descended into compulsive hatred of the Republican hierarchy of which she was once an integral part. (I leave it to Wyoming pros whether a nation-wide funding campaign fueled from left and right Trump-haters, a split primary Republican field, and a solid Democrat spoiler vote, can put her over the top in the primary.)
In sum, events insidiously helped Trump—and so far not so much either Biden and Harris or his own Republican rivals. Such is the ying and yang of politics.
Finally, consider the Biden record so far. Let’s go through the former Leftwing talking points of Trump vulnerabilities 1-9, as presented in this week’s prior Eeyore’s Corner.
- Almost every month, the rate of inflation, annualized month-by-month, not only increases, but increases usually by an ever greater margin. If the present rate holds, we could see 8-10 percent inflation for the year.
- Biden insisted that presidents get all the blame or credit for COVID policy, thinking the inherited vaxes and downsizing curve meant his presidency could coast. Yet 230,000 Americans have died from COVID, we are told, in just the first six months of Biden administration, despite available vaccinations. Moral: never count out new COVID strains, and never assume that the less these mutants pose existential threats to a vaccinated population, the more the Left will relax.
Given Biden and Co. sowed doubt about the Trump vaccinations last campaign year 2020, given that they insisted that social distancing, quarantines, and masking could virtually end the pandemic in a way that Trump had resisted, and given that Dr. Fauci was a supposed genius and Trump and Dr. Scott Atlas deemed dangerous, then the mutant strains, the uptick in cases, the conflicting CDC, NIH, and NIAID misinformation, and the implosion of Dr. Fauci have hurt Biden’s only talking point: the claim that Trump was the Plague, and Biden was the Cure.
- The border was deliberately opened. The wall was stopped. Refugee restrictions were ended. Catch-and-Release returned. Latin American nations were no longer told to hold back their emigrants. The result is utter madness. Nearly two million will supposedly cross unimpeded over a 12-month period. This insanity destroyed all government credibility on the resumption of social distancing, lockdowns and masking, given illegal aliens were given exemptions from testing, distancing, and vaccinations in a way never accorded US citizens.
- The calm Middle East broke out in war, perhaps because Israel’s enemies now thought either Biden was sympathetic to their anti-Israel cause, or too weak to do anything. Iran is bragging on its soon to be nuclear bomb. North Korea is again talking and acting as if China has cut its leash. Russia is hacking, oblivious to Biden’s “come on, man” request at least not to target some American institutions. And China is building hardened intercontinental missile silos, pointed at the US. Meanwhile our Joint Chiefs, and military top active and retired brass are woke—and ready to show the media and future corporate employers they are woke.
- There are no real Republican anti-Trumpers left. The Ten are silent or crazy loud, either in fear of, or accepting, a fate like Liz-Cheney’s. Governor DeSantis has a marvelous record and is no Mitt Romney, but the last “super-governor” Scott Walker fizzled on the 2016 debate stage. So no one knows the talented DeSantis’s future under campaign conditions. The rest hold back watching the campaign cycle, that is Biden’s ratings, and Trump’s reaction.
- Gas in skyrocketing, and up to $5 a gallon in parts of California—making the Steven Chus of the Left giddy. Enough said.
- Crime is returning to the levels of the Escape From New York and Death Wish Any visitor would so conclude. Defund or cut back on the police. Turn the DA’s office over to Soros socialists. Encourage mayors to lie that all is well. And juxtapose rising young black male crime rates with constant elite harangues that the violence is the sole fault of “whiteness,” not personal behavior, and you have the ingredients of a historic crime wave—and mounting pushback.
- Hunter Biden’s laptop was real; the media’s Biden campaign narrative was an utter lie. The social media quarantine of the truth proved even worse. Now Hunter is a paint-by-numbers extortionist trying to leverage campaign contributors to pony up for his awful canvasses. A person from Mars, would conclude that either Hunter is an addictive personality who cannot quit anything (grifting being analogous to crack and forgetting things in rental cars and repair shops), or he is shaking down/blackmailing his father, as if to say, “The more outrageous I act, the more you, Dad, privately whine about it, and so the closer I get to unloading about the entire Biden syndicate, including the ‘big guy’ and Mr. ‘Ten-Percent,’ who bought some nice properties due to my hard work.”
- The worst optics in the world are Kamala Harris presiding over a split Senate and Pelosi in charge of the House. Add up the camera-hogging of the squad, a zombie-like Adam Schiff, the Black Caucus, Pelosi, and Eric Swalwell, and there is no “adult in the room” gravitas to contrast with Trump invectives.
So, if Trump was supposedly retired for good in January 2021, in August probably not so much. He is keenly watching Biden’s ratings (falling in some polls into minus-50 percent territory) the terrible scenes on the border, resurgent COVID, and millionaires cashing in and out of CRT, rising inflation, the Cuomo circus, the deflated media, and the hesitancy of any Trump Republican rival.
So will Trump run at 78 in 2024? For the next year or so, it is likely to be a month-by-month suspense.
But if the presidential voting (versus either Biden or Harris) had been held in January 2021, Trump might have been defeated and easily so.
But if the election took place now in August 2021, he might well win, given the Biden project is not merely incompetent but downright scary and dangerous For the Left, they have no idea whether Trump is pacing on Elba or sick and whiny on St Helena.
For the Right? They seemed in January to think it was St Helena, but now more Elba. And if the latter, they fear and hope what would follow would not be his Waterloo.