by Victor Davis Hanson
July 24, 2018
There was no honeymoon for the unlikely winner of the 2016 election.
Progressives have in succession tried to sue to overturn Trump’s victory using several different approaches. First on the bogus claim of fraudulent voting machines. Then they sought to subvert the Electoral College by bullying electors into renouncing their respective states’ votes.
Massive protests and boycotts marked the inauguration. Then there were articles of impeachment introduced in the House. Some sued to remove Trump on a warped interpretation of the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution. Others brought in psychiatrists to testify that Trump was ill, disabled, or insane and should be removed in accordance with the 25th Amendment.
Mr. Obama’s FBI director, CIA director, and director of the Office of National Intelligence have variously smeared the president as a coward, a traitor, and a Russian mole.
The Mueller Investigation
We are about 430 days into Robert Mueller’s investigation; the special prosecutor whose team of lawyers and investigators has in a large part been made up either of Clinton donors, clear Clinton partisans, lawyers who have in the past represented Clinton interests or employees, or partisans already removed for expressing clear Trump hatred.
The media grew ecstatic over its creation, dubbing it an “all-star” or “dream” team, as leaks assured the public that next week, next month, or “soon” there would be a sensational indictment proving that Trump colluded with the Russians to win the presidency.
We have gone through the psychodramas surrounding Michael Cohen, Stormy Daniels, Michael Flynn, Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort, Carter Page and a host of others. Any second, any minute they would be indicted for collusion in throwing an election, or they would soon flip and end the Trump presidency.
When we learned that Robert Mueller initially did not disclose to the media why he had fired Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, and why he had spaced out their firings to prevent the impression that they were connected, we were only reassured of the professionalism of the Mueller investigation.
It was considered blasphemous to suggest that Mueller, Rod Rosenstein, and James Comey were all former associates and friends—and thus it would be awkward to ensure the public that they could pose as disinterested investigators, given the reality that some of the investigators might soon end up as the investigated.
When indictments of Manafort, Flynn and some minor Trump officials followed that had nothing to do with the original mandate of collusion, the press cheered them as appetizers for the main course of impeachment to come.
It was considered unpatriotic to suggest that Mueller did not find Russian collusion in a sea of collusion—at least as evidenced by a prior Obama hot mic quid pro quo promise to calibrate U.S. policy on European missile defense to Russian behavior conducive to Obama’s 2012 reelection, or huge Russian-related donations to the Clinton Foundation roughly at the time Secretary of State Hillary Clinton helped to facilitate sales of U.S. uranium to Russian companies.
Trump is said to be paranoid, uncouth, reckless, and crude. And he has been at times. But no prior president has been under investigation for 80 percent of his first two years in office, by an investigatory team that is so patently compromised by conflicts of political interest, and so unable to find collusion or wrongdoing in a sea of what is likely to turn out to be FBI, CIA, and Justice Department criminality in 2016.
Killing Hitler Trump
The methods of rhetorically assassinating Trump all have been tried out by progressive celebrities, politicians, and academics: decapitation, high explosives, nightly ritual stabbing, hanging, death by elevator, death by escalator, shooting, incineration, and fisticuffs.
The reason that Kathy Griffin, Madonna, Robert De Niro, Kamala Harris, or Snoop Dogg have been lately quiet about killing Trump is that the various ways to do so have long ago been exhausted.
Trump as Hitler, Mussolini, or Stalin is now old hat. Trump as traitor was boring long ago. What can one say after Trump’s agenda has been compared to Pearl Harbor, the Holocaust, and 9/11?
If the tax cuts, immigration policy, or NATO and Russian summits are equal to killing 3,000 Americans, what is left to the imagination?
If talking sloppily about Putin is tantamount to the Holocaust, then what exactly was the Holocaust, a bad press conference?
And if we are to believe that anything Trump has done is equivalent to starting a war that killed 65 million people and engineered the Final Solution, then among our 325 million fellow Americans perhaps a few dozen will watch CNN or MSNBC talking heads lecturing on the Führer, and conclude the only patriotic thing to do is to eliminate this new incarnation of Hitler.
Trump War on All Fronts
Progressives are urged to go to stores, gas stations, restaurants and confront Trump Administration officials, in a sort of Obama-like “get in their faces” or “take a gun to a knife fight” advice to make life miserable for anyone who would dare work for Trump.
A former Clinton aide has organized adolescent noise-maker rallies near the White House, ostensibly to make so much racket that Trump will not be able to sleep in the presidential bedroom. Restaurants have refused to serve Trump appointees.
There is no respite from the war against Trump. The NFL, the NBA, late-night comedy shows, cable news, sitcoms, Hollywood movies, books, and music have all found ways to turn their genres into anti-Trump theater.
There is no respite; there is no refuge—not the Super Bowl, not the Emmys, not the Grammys, not the Oscars. Almost every aspect of American culture has been weaponized to delegitimize Trump.
The Roots of Trump Derangement
Is the anger, then, that we are in a depression, war, or plague?
Actually, no. The economy is growing at rates that we have not seen in over a decade. Unemployment, especially minority joblessness, is at a historic low.
Even the stock market is at record highs. The United States is now the world’s largest producer of oil, natural gas, and coal. Consumer and business confidence is at a near all-time high.
NATO is re-calibrating its military contributions to increase defense spending. North Korea has stopped talking about nuking our West Coast. The Iranian theocracy is panicking after the end of the Iran Deal. There have not been any incidents this year of Iranian hazing of U.S. ships. China is scrambling to find ways to readjust its lopsided trade surpluses induced by commercial cheating and dumping.
Never has a Republican president appointed and had confirmed more conservative and stellar judges. The National Security team of Pompeo, Bolton, Mattis, and Haley is perhaps the most skilled since World War II.
Why then the hate, the furor, the sheer mania?
The Left lost what it thought was a sure-thing election.
There is now no assured 16-year Obama-Clinton regnum that would complete what the Obamas had called the final “fundamental transformation” of the United States.
The Left cannot accept that it blew certain victory. A huge fundraising advantage, a toady media, massive defections of Republican establishment intellectuals and pundits, the lack of prior military or political experience of candidate Donald Trump, and a popular vote plurality all proved for naught. The unimaginable then became all too real.
And fantasy was substituted for reality as smears, slurs, and denials ensued. Think of the 2000 election cubed.
Trump is not a George H.W. Bush or Mitt Romney.
He knows no etiquette. He is no gentleman. He is a bruiser, brawler, exaggerator, and performer. What created President Trump was not just “The Apprentice” or the Manhattan real estate market (such a résumé only honed his pugilist skills).
Rather, half the country was tired of Republicans grimacing as they were portrayed as throwing grandmothers off cliffs.
They were tired of seeing political commercials of bodies of the murdered dragged behind trucks, or charges that Republicans cruelly put their pets on their car roof.
They were tired of the anti-Semitic and racist Rev. Jeremiah Wright, a presidential candidate’s personal pastor, being off limits, but not the supposed senility of John McCain who in 2008 was pilloried as a doddering multi-millionaire who forgot how many houses he had owned.
In 2012, it was Mitt Romney’s wife whose sins were wearing equestrian clothes.
Given the growing furor over half the country as demonized clingers, deplorables, and crazies, if Trump did not exist, a don’t-tread-on-me street fighter would have had to be invented. Progressives have gone ballistic that any opponent would reply to them in kind.
Think of “Caddyshack,” when uncouth Rodney Dangerfield burst into smug Ted Knight’s country club.
The Left did not just lose the 2016 election, it lost the Congress, the presidency, and the Supreme Court.
And it lost them all to a rash, uncouth Queens-accented Manhattan billionaire reality TV star, who systematically planned to dismantle eight years of Obama Administration executive-orders. And unlike almost all prior politicians, Trump when in office kept his promises and systematically went about to halt the supposed progressive future.
Think of a liberal nightmare something akin to Sarah Palin as president in 2012.
The Obama apparat and the proverbial deep state never imagined Trump could win and thus to ensure that he would not just be defeated but humiliated, vied to use the power of government to destroy the Trump candidacy.
Mr. Obama’s National Security Council was weaponized and thus unmasked the names of surveilled Americans and leaked their names to the press to undermine the Trump campaign.
Mr. Obama’s Department of Justice was weaponized to ensure Hillary Clinton was exonerated for her misdeeds concerning her email server and quid pro quo collusion with a variety of foreign and domestic influence peddlers and buyers.
Mr. Obama’s FBI and CIA were weaponized to subvert the Trump campaign, by peddling an unverified smear dossier, paid for by Hillary Clinton, by implanting informants into the Trump campaign, and by undermining a FISA court through dishonest presentations of evidence for warrants to spy on American citizens.
All such behavior was assumed to ensure the landslide Clinton victory and thus would be seen as sacrifice beyond the call of duty to be rewarded by a President Clinton not as illegal behavior to be punished during a Trump administration.
And as a result, the more culpability that was exposed, the more the culpable went on the offensive—on the theory that constant attack is the best defense against their own criminal liability.
Think of the fears of John Brennan behind bars.
The progressive hysteria reveals the lack of an idea.
Kill, humiliate, delegitimize Trump is not a sustainable political agenda whether winning a local assembly seat or a liberal majority on the Supreme Court.
But then neither are socialist ideas.
If the Left was intellectually honest it would run in November on what it now professes are its new core beliefs: the abolition of ICE, the end to all deportations, open borders, expansions of affirmative action, abortion on demand, and identity politics, cancellation of student debt, universal Medicare-like coverage for Americans of all ages, massive tax hikes, more regulations, and less fossil fuel production, and an EU-like socialist-democratic foreign policy.
The problem is that the above is far from a 51 percent winnable program. And progressives fear that their base will not allow them to move to the center to capture the old blue-collar white working class, or the Perot, Tea-Party and Blue Dog voter.
Nor can they afford to move much further leftward, given they are increasingly dependent on Obama-like identity politics candidates without an Obama-like charismatic candidate.
Democrats privately acknowledge that Obama wrecked the Democrat Party—losing Congress, the presidency, state and local offices, and now the Supreme Court. But they must praise the forces of that wreckage and seek to trump them by becoming the party of hyper-identity politics.
In other words, the Democrats know what sort of agenda might bring them back into power as it did in 1992. But they feel that Clintonesque cure is worse than the disease of being in the purer political wilderness without power.
So, for now, they rant, they rave, and they stew, accepting that they cannot do what might save them and therefore they only do more of what is destroying them.
Out of that lose-lose dilemma was birthed Trump hatred. Without a persuasive argument, progressives came up with the mantra that Trump is a traitor, and that all they needed to do was to explain to supposedly dense voters that their current economic renaissance was actually jackbooted National Socialism.
How far will the Left go? I fear that we have seen nothing yet.