Victor Davis Hanson // VDH’s Blade of Perseus
Part One: Trump, RIP?
In January-February 2021, Trump’s future was problematic. He was kicked off social media. And without his accustomed megaphones, Trump for the first time in years was unable to reach supporters and the public at large. Thus, the hate-Trump media filled the void and alone took over most of Trump’s ability to communicate.
Following January 6, the insurgent Parler, surging with millions of new subscribers, was ambushed by Amazon, Apple, and Google, which, in Night-of-the-Long-Knives fashion, removed it from their apps and links.
Note that Trump’s strongest traditional media supporters were no more. Rush Limbaugh, at his peak in terms of analysis and fired-up resistance to socialism, passed away on February 17, after a year-long and heroic fight against cancer.
The Drudge Report had flipped—the causes remain under dispute—and went from pro- to hate-Trump. Fox News was in turmoil: the Left attacked it fiercely as Trump loyalists; some Trump loyalists attacked it fiercely for letting the likes of Chris Stirewalt and Chris Wallace dominate Election Coverage.
The January 6, 2021 Capitol riot prompted a firestorm of “Trump did it” furor. The moribund Never-Trumpers, deflated after the sex and grifting scandals of the Lincoln Project and wrong consistently about their predictions of Trump administration policy failures, got a second wind with the enlistment of Liz Cheney and The Ten who voted to impeach Trump.
Even some in his own party blamed Trump for the loss of two Republican Senate seats in Georgia, due to his obsessions with the November 3 vote count. They blasted Trump for his failure to barnstorm the state, keep silent about himself, and remind America that those two races were all that was left in the way of the Socialist steamroller.
Joe Biden was still doing the “Good Ole Joe from Scranton” schtick. Under the pretext of appearing only periodically to smile and wave, he was again winking and nodding that he was not the Disrupter Trump, and so was given an enthusiastic honeymoon. Because of the ravages of onset dementia, Joe in January 2021 was not even Joe of August 2021. Eight months ago he could still manage to cobble sentences together without the now accustomed brain freezes and incoherence. In other words, in January 2021, Biden was not picking food matter off his chin and eating it—after receiving instructions from staff to clean up his appearance.
For all the damnation of Trump, newly inaugurated President Biden for a brief few weeks, before his agendas could do damage, was also inflated by the fumes of Trump’s first four years:
1) The economy was in a rapid recovery. Natural consumer pent-up demand meant no longer any logical need for more government cash. Inflation and unemployment were low.
2) Biden immediately lied and said there were no vaccinations until his inauguration (since November, 2020, 17 million had been vaccinated). He indeed claimed virtual authorship of Operation Warp Speed.
Biden did a 180 on the vaxes: if on the campaign stump (is that the wrong word for Biden’s basement?) Harris and Biden had once said that any inoculation tied to Trump was dangerous and thus they would hesitate to become vaccinated, they now became inoculation zealots. Again, it was as if their own brilliant February 2021 initiatives had created the Moderna, Pfizer, and Johnson-Johnson shots out of thin air. That the American, or part-American, brands outperformed their Chinese, Russian, and European rivals was due solely to Biden’s genius. And as more of the nation got vaxxed, and the spring and summer warmth depressed the virus, Biden pointed to the declining cases, as if to say “See, what happens when Dr. Fauci can work with a like mind?”
3) The border, finally closed under Trump, was not yet fully porous. (E.g. it takes some time to walk there from Central America or Southern Mexico or to fly into Mexico from Nigeria or Uganda to head north.). So Biden sounded “empathetic” as he trashed Trump’s supposed harsh rhetoric on illegal immigration, while quietly enjoying the calm of the closed border, all the while loudly claiming he was not anti-illegal immigrant.
4) The Middle East was also inert. China was still under some suspicion about the virus and laying low. Dr. Fauci cloaked himself in Bidenism and had dodged the initial bullet of revelations about his own funding of the Wuhan virology’s gain-of-function research. The hostile world—Iran, North Korea, Russia, China—was still sizing up the “big guy.” And our friends (e.g., the UK and much of the former British empire, the EU and the Westernized nations in Asia) said they were relieved that Trump, the firecracker, would not go off anymore at summits.
5) The Republican swamp sighed relief. The beltway became more emboldened in nixing any more mention of a Phoenix-like Trump resurrection. Mention of Trump became a sort of Napoleon taboo—as if he was not so much on nearby Elba temporarily, but more permanently on far off St Helena.
6) Slashing pipelines, stopping new fossil-fuel federal leases, closing ANWAR, and bad-mouthing fracking—as demand for gas was only slowly recovering—had not yet much effect.
7) The rising crime rate was propagandized by the media as 1) small potatoes in comparison to the “armed insurrection” of January 6; and 2) an organic result of overzealous good citizens who got a bit robust after the year-long lockdowns.
8) Remember, we were still in the Hunter Biden, the victim, narrative. Those damn Ruskies, not content with colluding to hand the election to Trump in 2016, had snuck into Hunter’s house, fabricated a hard drive, and dumped it off at a repair shop. You laugh at one such scenario? Our best and brightest CIA, NSA, DNI officials swore it was “Russian disinformation.”
9) The Left was giddy that they had not only impeached Trump twice, but tried him in the Senate as a private citizen! The New Democratic Party now had de facto majorities in both houses of Congress, and unleashed their woke Kraken as never before.
Add it all up, and Trump was supposedly RIP. Or so we were told.
But now? In the eighth month of 2021, and with a good seven months to distill Joe Biden’s genius?