Victor Davis Hanson
Joe Biden, first as a candidate and then in the White House, from the outset saw the COVID-19 pandemic mainly as a means of leveraging political support, from the manner in which the lockdowns allowed him to run a virtual campaign from his basement to equating Donald Trump with the COVID-19 virus.
Like many on the Left, Biden was overt in such cynicism. So were Hillary Clinton, Gavin Newsom, and Jane Fonda—who claimed that COVID was a “never-let-a-crisis-go-to-waste” moment. Panic and lockdowns could help achieve single-payer health care, or a recalibrated capitalism, or the end of Donald Trump himself.
At the height of the last presidential campaign, Biden in September 2020 declared that Trump was responsible for the then-current 200,000 COVID deaths: “If the president had done his job, had done his job from the beginning, all the people would still be alive.”
Biden felt no need to list details where Trump had lethally erred or had not “done his job.”
He did not explain how any president should be able to prevent all deaths from a plague. And in 2020, Biden certainly had no expectation that before his own first year as president was over the cumulative deaths from the pandemic would exceed 800,000. He would have found it surreal to even imagine that soon there would be far more deaths under his own tenure than during Trump’s presidency—despite being the beneficiary of ubiquitous vaccinations, new therapies, and antiviral drugs unavailable throughout most of 2020.
During the 2020 campaign, both Biden and vice-presidential candidate Kamala Harris also had cast doubt on the safety and efficacy of the Operation Warp Speed vaccines. They repeatedly implied that any forthcoming jabs would be tainted by Trump’s sponsorship.
Yet, later in office, both would publicly deplore any doubt similar to their own about vaccination safety or efficacy. Indeed, they equated remaining unvaxed to being unpatriotic. In addition, when Biden was inaugurated, he claimed that no Americans had been vaccinated. In fact, on some days under Trump more than a million people were receiving vaccinations.
Biden had assumed he could blame Trump for all 2020 COVID-19 deaths, while few would die from the pandemic in 2021, and that, again, he could take credit for the Warp Speed vaccination program.
But fate, not Biden, was the master of our COVID-19 destinies. Soon both the Delta and Omicron variants arrived, and we are now back to a Groundhog Day of possible lockdowns and mask mandates. Certainly, Biden would not wish a political rival to do to him what he did to Trump: question the efficacy and safety of the vaccines, blame Biden for more than 400,000 deaths on his watch, and claim the continuance of the pandemic was Biden’s fault alone.
Truth and Consequences
What’s the moral of Biden’s current troubles? From the Bible and the Greeks and throughout the Western tradition, there is a constant refrain of being wary of hubris, the lying and arrogance that are innate to it, and the divine power that ultimately levels things out.
Biden and the Left so despised Donald Trump that they lost all sense of moderation, of proportion, of logic itself. Thus, they find themselves in the current ridiculous situation of suffering the consequences of their own unhinged rhetoric and actions.
How did the once omnipotent, omnipresent Hillary Clinton descend into a caricature of a shrill, mean-spirited, and pathetic has-been? Even more so than Biden, she assumed that her hatred of Trump would excuse anything. And anything not excusable could simply be fobbed onto Trump as if it was his own doing.
Illegal to use a private, unsecured private email server to avoid government audit? When caught simply cry that Donald Trump encouraged the Russians to hack it.
Was Clinton’s “Russian reset” a failure? Was her campaign’s opposition research via British ex-spy Christopher Steele a dud and a lie? Then simply amp up the Russian collusion hoax, accuse Trump of being a Vladimir Putin asset, and count on the “friends of Hillary” in the administrative state to seed and fuel the lie.
Lose a supposedly sure-thing presidential election? Then blame the terrible, failed campaign on voting fraud, or on the Electoral College, and then claim the winner was illegitimate, while joining #TheResistance.
Weapons of Self-Destruction
The military traditionally polls as the most popular of all major U.S. institutions. No longer. In a recent Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute survey, only 45 percent of Americans expressed trust and confidence in our armed forces. That is a stunning, almost inexplicable reversal—until we remember what has transpired over the last four years.
Why would our most esteemed retired generals routinely violate the Uniform Code of Military Justice in smearing and slandering the commander-in-chief between 2016 and 2021?
They did so freely and arrogantly on two assumptions. One, they were assured that the bipartisan establishment would applaud their political attacks and provide them legal and political exemptions in a way unthinkable had they compared, say, Barack Obama to a Nazi, a fascist, a Mussolini, a death camp jailer, a fraud, and a liar deserving removal “the sooner the better.”
Second, they were so taken with their stars and epaulets, their high public profiles, and their entry into the corporate monied class upon retirement, that the public would surely listen to their supposedly sage, insider advice.
Instead, their hubris earned them the opposition of half the country—ironically the half once most supportive of the military.
Just as importantly, the high-ranking officer class, fairly or not, was humiliated in Afghanistan. China and Russia now assume the United States has lost much of its prior deterrence. The Pentagon was seen as reckless and wasteful: gone in a matter of days were a $1 billion embassy in Kabul, a $300 million refitted air base at Bagram, and some $80 billion in U.S. weapons and equipment.
When the people looked for contrition, for apologies, for explanations, they got instead the opposite: generals blaming Biden off the record; Biden blaming generals on the record; the sense that China has reached parity with the U.S. military; the chairman of the joint chiefs apologizing for usually routine photo-ops with the president, unlawfully interfering in the chain of command, and claiming a pandemic of mythical “white rage”—all done with the full acquiescence of his superior, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, another retired general.
Meanwhile, suspicion continued to grow that much of the woke agenda was fast-tracked through the military because it served the careerist trajectories of the compliant officer class. Again, those who felt their self-importance had earned them commensurate influence and power well beyond their tasks of ensuring deterrence and military preparedness, lost both influence and power—both for themselves and the military itself.
The Rot Spreads
The Green New Dealers assumed that by the sheer force of their own superior morality that they could abruptly curtail fossil fuel use, with little if any concern that millions of the lower-middle class depend upon inexpensive natural gas and gasoline for their daily survival.
After bragging they would end fossil fuel use in a decade, these same purists ended up begging the carbon autocracies of Russia and the Gulf Arab states to produce more of the toxic fuels they had done so much at home to curtail. The radical climate changers had little idea how unlikeable and unpopular they had become—not just because of their credo, but due also to their own hypocrisies, arrogance, and preening.
Black Lives Matter is similar. In summer 2020, it assumed the role of arbiter of all race relations. Corporations rushed to send it cash. District attorneys competed to drop charges of the arrested. Mayors stampeded to defund police departments. And criminals vied to commit crimes on the assumption that they would not be caught, or not be indicted, or not be convicted, or not be jailed—and that societies were culpable, not the criminals, for the damage wrought.
And now? BLM is polling even lower than Joe Biden and the U.S. military.
The lessons from these hypocrisies? There are natural, eternal laws that transcend personalities and are the ultimate adjudicators of right and wrong.
Good leaders acknowledge the talent of those they despise. They are not so obsessed in their hatred that they mindlessly fixate on the negation of unwelcomed success. General George S. Patton found General Bernard Montgomery a poseur, affected, and condescending—but Patton also appreciated that Monty was methodical, professional, and, as a defensive tactician, admirably tough and stubborn.
Churchill privately saw Charles De Gaulle as vain, exasperating, and narcissistic. But he publicly acknowledged that no other man of France in 1940 would have, or could have, rallied the defeated in exile, orchestrated a triumphant return, brought order to chaotic France, and restored French sovereignty, and, yes, chauvinism, to a defeated and humiliated people.
Republicans who joined FDR on the eve of World War II knew him to be vain, duplicitous, treacherous, and an egomaniac. But also, they conceded that he had the rare talent to galvanize the nation to defeat its enemies, and to charm and cajole the capitalist classes to produce weapons and goods as no other nation in history had done.
So, there were reasons why Socrates advised “Know thyself,” why the oracle at Delphi emblemized “Nothing too much”—and why you reap what you sow.
12 thoughts on “Sowing Winds and Reaping Whirlwinds”
Dear Dr. Hanson,
Thank you so much for everything you write and the opinions you offer during varous media appearances. When I read last week that VP Harris has been consulting Hillary Clinton, I reflected that some people never grow or learn. This latest piece of yours would be an education for Harris, Biden and many other gov types.
I forward your writings to my parents, both of whom are Stanford alumni. We often comment how your down-to-earth upbringing and simple wisdom must provide strong protection from the progressive lunacy found at so many institutions of higher learning.
May you continue to inspire so many with your intellect. Blessings to you and yours as we journey forward to 2022.
Clare S. Erlander
Thank you so much for your wonderful writing and insights. You are admirable, yet refreshingly low-key in these hyperbolic times.
As usual, Mr Hanson is spot-on with his assessment of the anti-American side of the aisle. It boggles the mind that these modern day Bolsheviks just cannot realize what 3/4 of Americans think of them. November 2022 cannot arrive soon enough. God bless you Victor Davis Hanson and God bless America.
Once again, Victor Davis Hanson has succinctly summed up the events of the last few years & exposed the left for what they have caused….hopefully those responsible will reap what they have sown! Thank you, Prof. Hanson
An amazing and insightful intellect who calls out the insanity of the radical liberals on all levels. He is prescient and yet, humble. Thank GOD for his willingness to share his wisdom and to clarify the lunacy around us!
For Marxism to achieve it’s goals all institutions must be destroyed. I would say that the loss of faith in our military is exactly what they wanted.
As usual, with his simple, succint, yet transcendent synopes, Mr. Hanson helps us to make sense of the nonsense swirling all around us and to keep our feet on the ground.
Marxism can never reproduce what it has profited from and ultimately destroyed.
As much as I love to read and listen to just about everything Dr. Hanson writes and says, I always find myself asking, “What do we do about it?”
We should avoid hanging everything on the midterms, as we don’t know how deeply the left has infiltrated our election systems, but we can presume they have the capability to steal elections where and when it’s strategic and necessary.
We should also avoid believing Virginia is a bellwether for 2022, the left may have been caught napping but they also could be luring us into a similar trap.
The left particularly excels at exerting pressure, and they have lots of avenues of attack and tools they can use. We should do our best to copy their doctrine.
If I had the resources of a George Soros or Bill Gates, I would certainly consider funding legislation that attacks any of the left’s sacred cows – abortion, gun control, race and transgender issues, Covid mandates, and many others – anywhere we can find friendly officials and grassroots organizations.
And we should not fear using linkage – for example, after the Rittenhouse verdict, Jacob Blake’s uncle went on TV, and a minute or so into his tirade, started talking about January 6. No logical person would ever make that kind of connection, but we’re not talking about logical people. We should not assume that propaganda techniques that work on us will work on the enemy, and vice-versa.
For instance, Texas protects the unborn because FBI and CIA launched a coup against a sitting POTUS.
I’m still astounded that liberal/progressive strategist and the “wise old guard” could not foresee the risk of 2017-2021 tactics coming full circle. Maybe they did and were ignored. Worse is that going forward the tactic is to double down or further convolute, e.g. Representative Schiff’s recent comments on the Russian Collusion Hoax. Perhaps the thought was that they could just turn it off, obscure the recent past, and continue the media domination in appearing to control the moral high ground. Regardless, every day it becomes more apparent the damage done.
While the dissent of the American population is gaining momentum via the disintegration of the left wing MSM, we in Canada are not able to say the same unfortunately as the Leftists have closed ranks to support the “Approved Media” only model. Fair, Accurate & Balanced is a mirage and something akin to the victim of Hypothermia in their final death throes stripping naked in Arctic conditions. Our population after decades of soft sell Socialism has become a completely emasculated, disarmed, castrated pajama boy’s only clique that anyone who goes against the party line is shouted down by the chorus of Karens & other sundry Social warriors.
The perfect pitch “Green Revolution New Dealers” is the Clarion call to the Unwoke. But to let up is to die the death of a thousand pogroms! our sole candle in the Socialist Tsunami is Jordan Peterson who bless his soul is unbowed and unrepentant having just come out of his self imposed media isolation to rally to the side of freedom & liberty for Canadians. Calling America!! Watch out for what Uncle Joe & Trudeau I left in the attic all those years ago and is now coming to fruition under the undead sequel of Trudeau II.
VDH God Bless and keep you to continue to bring truth & Hope to the people.