By George Miller
With the vast majority of media, pundits and academics opposed to and many constantly attacking President Donald J. Trump, it is news to see one doing just the opposite. So it is, with California Stanford, CSUF (Cal State University- Fresno) and Hillsdale College Professor Victor Davis Hanson. He visited a friendly enclave in Ventura County, The Reagan Library in Simi Valley, this week, on March 18, to promote his latest and 25th book: The Case for Trump, which garnered a 4 1/2 star review summary on Amazon. There was an enthusiastic capacity crowd, with hundreds more turned away, we were told.
Per the event announcement: “In The Case for Trump, award-winning historian and political commentator Victor Davis Hanson explains how a celebrity businessman with no political or military experience triumphed over sixteen well- qualified Republican rivals, a Democrat with a quarter- billion-dollar war chest, and a hostile media and Washington establishment to become president of the United States–and an extremely successful president.” Hanson covered some highlights of Trump’s first term to date.
Hanson has built his case for Trump in countless articles published in the last few years, many appearing right here in Citizens Journal. He attempted to summarize some key points in his book and a sampling of them at this event. He freely admits some of Trump’s notorious shortcomings, but his bias is toward what he maintains is a very much net positive benefit of the Trump Presidency and certain personal characteristics he possesses that have made it possible for him to survive.
The crowd at the event, not surprisingly, seemed strongly pro-Trump. Many seemed to also be Hanson fans, based on applause and the line to get books signed by the author.
Rather than a speech, the format was a moderator-driven Q & A, with a few very good audience questions at the end. We don’t know to what extent Hanson was involved in formulating the moderator’s questions, but they seemed right on target.
Hanson started off by sharing that he felt like a “battered rescue dog,” with all of the attacks he is taking. A noted, revered historian, commentator, editorialist and scholar, he has been a lightning rod for the full fury of the Progressive Globalist Establishment, because of his contrarian position on Trump and because he so ably chronicles and praises the Trump agenda. He said he is constantly labeled “racist, sexist, nativist… and worse”- accusations often leveled at Trump, too. He felt that is ironic, as Hanson has an intermarried family, lives and works in highly diverse environments.
He said that Trump is none of those things- not anti-black, anti-Hispanic, anti-Semite, anti-religious, anti-Catholic, as he said many Democrats are. (Note that the left often accuses Trump of racism, because he is opposed to illegal immigration. But he is not opposed to legal immigration or minorities.) He said that Trump has already done more for minorities than Obama ever did.
Hanson said that he tried playing by Marquis of Queensbury rules, but the opposition did not/does not reciprocate. He said it didn’t work for George W. Bush either, who was unjustly labeled a “Nazi” and constantly subject to ad hominem attacks, distortions and outright lies. The media’s visceral hatred of Trump is evident. If we don’t notice it, they tell us.
But now, Trump has turned all of that upside down, in an unprecedented manner, with overwhelming counterattacks far exceeding the original offenses and ingenious strategies for often beating the establishment at its own game. No Republican President- and few Republicans, for that matter- have ever been willing or able to do so. Newt Gingrich is that only one who comes to mind. He was more eloquent than Trump, but not as effective. Unfortunately, civil discourse has become a casualty. Many feel that is better than the lopsided, unfair battles that preceded him. Hanson quipped that Trump’s approach is like chemotherapy that hopefully kills the cancer without first killing the host.
Trump doubled down, counterattacking, calling his opponents names and labeling the Mainstream Media an often deserved “Fake News.” Survey results of news media credibility keep dropping.
But, what really infuriates and engenders hatred of Trump by the establishment is his virulent and outspoken anti-Globalism, unabashedly pro-American, nationalism, America-First, somewhat protectionist, anti Progressive, anti-Socialist, anti-Medicare for all, pro-capitalist, pro-Second Amendment, pro-life, rejecting the Global Warming catastrophe narrative which wants to totally reorder world society. They react in horror as he challenges NATO members not paying their fair share, wants to end 18 year wars with no clear objective or end game, spikes the Paris Accords, nukes the Trans-Pacific Partnership, NAFTA and other sacred cows that arguably shortchange the USA, waste its resources and don’t serve national interests.
Hanson pointed out that Trump either instinctively or via a brilliant strategy knew where to focus – on what key states , what issues and what groups were needed for victory. While he was first reviled as the only candidate who could lose to Hillary Clinton, he was later celebrated by Monday morning quarterback pundits as the only one of the 16 Republican candidates who could have beaten Hillary and Hillary as the only Democrat candidate who could lose to him.
He further revealed that the left has alienated white working class people and how Trump has now gained increasing support of minorities- SINCE the election, making it a 55-45 probability that he will be re-elected. There are more people without college than with and this may increase, as things like the college admissions scandal reverberate. He said Trump’s popularity numbers are about the same as Clinton’s and Obama’s numbers at the same time in their presidencies. Both later cruised to re-election victories. He said Trump will, too, barring a major economic crash or unpopular new war.
Hanson said that when you add that the opposition is embracing Medicare for all, late abortion/infanticide, more taxes, Green New Deal, killing oil/gas, and more, this is leaving them wide open for Trump to say to voters: “I’m the only thing between you and Socialism.”
Hanson noted that the MAGA (Make America Great Again) campaign slogan was reviled as retrogressive, nativist, racist and downright incorrect. Yet, Ronald Reagan used an almost identical slogan to coast to victory and somehow wasn’t saddled with those pejoratives for it. He elaborated that foes said Trump wanted to return to the bad old days of the 1950’s before civil rights were better implemented. Hanson disagreed with that assessment, adding that Trump’s actual performance has considerably enhanced the situation for minorities, citing economic gains and historically low unemployment for blacks and Hispanics. He also said that the U.S. is “self-correcting” on rights infringements and has tended to make gradual improvements. He pointed out 3% GDP growth, record oil production, blowing the peak oil theory out of the water. Hanson stated that Trump wants to return to assimilation of immigrants and is opposed to the identity politics game played by his opposition. He also wants merit/skill based immigration- all legally. He wishes to protect workers’ wages against labor market saturation. This is especially important to minorities, who tend to have lower wage/skill jobs most vulnerable to competition via massive- especially illegal- immigration.
Prof. Hanson pointed out the enormous obstacles which have been thrown up against Trump, including: 90% negative press coverage; movie stars competing to attack him viciously; Logan Act violations cited (no one has ever been convicted on Logan Act violations, although some should have been); Articles of impeachment introduced and heavily promoted; 25th Amendment for removal for mental illness attempted by DOJ legacy employees; the Mueller investigation “hysteria”; and more. The degree and severity of these are unprecedented. Yet, Trump still stands. He said that few other people could get away with saying things like “I love big, beautiful coal.”
Hanson did not point out to what a large extent Trump’s agenda has been thwarted by the opposition, but reveled in things such as the economy and jobs growing, oil production, judicial appointments and more.
A woman considering leaving the state asked about prospects for California. Hanson first reminisced that California was a “paradise” in the 1970’s-80’s and had good government. Then to help quantify the current situation, he rattled off some awful statistics about California- high poverty, taxes, welfare, low test scores,etc. and said that they don’t justify the high cost of living here. His remedy: when people get fed up and do something like the Reagan revolution. He didn’t seem to think that was imminent, though.
He lamented the CA “Stonehenge” Monster bullet train (to nowhere) failed project and wondered why the three badly-needed reservoirs haven’t been built.
A question on voter fraud prompted him to mention the Orange County CA U.S. House seat flips due to the “Machiavellian” ballot harvesting. His remedy is litigation, legislation or emulation. He said we’re down to only seven California seats (held by Republicans) and may end up with only one. He said that to even mention addressing it is to be besieged by accusations of racism, insensitivity and exclusionary tactics. He is very worried. He didn’t even mention the Motor Voter law, no ID checking at the polls, overwhelming number of provisional ballots with questionable vetting and more.
In response to a question about what advice Reagan might give Trump, he responded that people forget how much Reagan was hated by the left, as was G. W. Bush. But Reagan had this unique way of laughing and brushing things off. Trump has displayed only some elements of that- needs more, needs to learn to stay calm and use more humor.
In response to a question about future predictions, Hanson predicted a Trump second term victory, subject to the caveats listed above. He regretfully added that Trump would be a “tragic hero”, would accomplish much, but not be invited to speak at funerals and would not have a legacy of respect accorded past iconic Presidents, even as he is achieving much. He added that Trump should go to inner cities, be booed, but gain still more minority support, which he has already done some of.
George Miller is Publisher/Co-Founder of CitizensJournal.us and a “retired” operations management consultant residing in Oxnard