Victor Davis Hanson Dismantles Myths of the 2016 Election

Breaking through the media distortions.

Victor David Hanson: Thank you very much for having me.  I thought I would talk about the mythologies of the election if I could.  But before we go, I know you all have had this experience.  People have come up to you and said, “Did you have any idea that Trump could win?”  Now, everybody lies and said, of course I did.  I thought he would be even, but I wasn’t sure. But I had these conversations a lot with Bruce Thornton, and we’d always come to the same conclusion.  I don’t know, but there’s something strange out there going on.

And what I meant by that was, when I would walk across the Hoover Institution grounds, anybody who I thought would be voting for Donald Trump would do this.  And anybody who wanted to be labeled the maverick, brave, independent scholar, the “go-to” person for the Washington Post, would say, “I’m for Hillary.”  And I thought this is really an accurate barometer of what people are thinking, and so I said to my wife Jennifer, “You know every time we have somebody on the farm or we talk to a guy on a tractor, if he speaks English” — and these are all Mexican-American people — “he’s for Trump.”  Can’t believe it.  People who are not for Trump don’t speak English.  And she said, well I have a class with 40 people and there are 38 Hispanics.  I said well ask them. You don’t have tenure, but be careful how you ask them.  Do it this way: is there anybody in their right mind that would vote for Trump?  Seventeen people held their hand up in front of people, and then you saw the statistics that he had two to three points higher minority representation among minority communities than did Romney or McCain.  And it was just striking.

The other thing that I think has happened in this election, unfortunately, is — I know I’m not quite unbiased — is that we’ve lost friends and family, relationships.  I know that I thought I knew people at the National Review.  I’ve been writing there for 14 years, and then I would read things, and I could not believe it.  It wasn’t that I disagreed with them or they disagreed with me, it was the level of venom and condescension.  I would pick up the Wall Street Journal and read Bret Stephens.  I talked to George Will and I could not believe it.  And then I talked to people in my family, and the same thing.

But there was one commonality that you may have experienced.  That the people who were voting for Hillary or not voting wanted to provoke something.  So every time I would see my brother or other brother, they wanted to talk about it.  They wanted to put you on the spot.  At Hoover when I saw somebody, they wanted to say, “How dare you.”  Nobody in this room went up to somebody who they’ve known for a long time and say, “How dare you vote for Hillary.”  They may have thought that, but –and it’s thematic of this whole election that Trump’s rallies were supposedly violent, rigged, we know now, by the DNC, and now we see the real violence in the post election.  So there were all these bizarre emotions.

One of the things, one other statement before I go into mythologies: This had a lot to do with class.  I know people said, “Well how can Trump be a populist.  He’s a billionaire.”  But he was a billionaire in a way that offended the sensibilities of the coastal corridors.  Maybe it was the orange hair or skin or the queen’s accent or his personal tastes and appetites, but whatever it was, people of the elite did not like him for class reasons because he would talk to conservatives and you would look at his agenda and it was pretty conservative, and they’d say, “Well, he doesn’t believe it” or “he was a Democrat.”  But they applied a different standard to him that was inexplicable other than they had a class disdain for what he represented.

I thought something was going wrong when I would go up to Palo Alto. I had this unique experience in my life where I live in the second poorest county in the United States, southern Tulare Fresno County, and then I work in one of the most affluent in Stanford-Palo Alto-Menlo Park, and it’s two different worlds.  And people up there were convinced that Trump would not only lose but lose in a landslide, and then people out in the foothills of California really thought that he might win in California.  I would ride a bike in the month of Michigan, in the month of September in Michigan.  I was teaching at Hillsdale.  Everybody had a Trump sign, and you would stop and talk to them, and they were just certain he was going to win.  I thought this doesn’t make sense.  And so I think a lot of you were not as surprised as we otherwise should have been.  Because after all, he had no money comparatively speaking.  He did not have a ground game.  He did not have opposition research.  He did not have bundlers.  He did not have celebrity endorsements.  He did not have establishment.  He did not have the media.  He had everybody against him.  So they say, “Well Hillary won the popular vote.”  Yeah, but it’s astounding that he was even close because he had nothing in conventional terms for him other than a message that resonated.

One of the big mythologies of the election was it’s unusual we’ve never had anything this vulgar, this crude in American history.  By the standards of American election it was pretty tame.  In 1824 basically John Quincy Adams stole the election from Andrew Jackson.  Andrew Jackson got it back in 1828, but if you go back and look at what they called one another.  Jackson was supposedly an assassin, a bigamist, his wife was a prostitute supposedly.  It reminded me of the Athenian democratic elections and politics where Demosthenes stands up in the De Corona and says, “My opponent, Aeschines, I will not mention the fact that his mother ran a house of prostitution from a cemetery.”

George McGovern called Richard Nixon 12 times in public a Nazi in the 1972 election. 1944, right in the middle of the battles in the Pacific at Leyte Gulf, Franklin Roosevelt said of Thomas Dewey we don’t fight Nazism and fascism overseas just to turn it over to the same people here in the United States.  Think of that.

The last time we have seen a Republican fight was Lee Atwater in the ’88 Bush election.  Last time somebody wanted to win rather than to lose nobly, and when he got done with Michael Dukakis, he was a wimp and a tank, he had polluted Boston Harbor and he let Willie Horton out thousands of times over again.  And that was the last time Republicans said that they were going to do that, and then they stopped so that John McCain wanted to lose nobly like old Ajax, I suppose.  Never mentioned Reverend Wright, Jeremiah Wright.  You get the impression had Trump run in 2008 we would have never heard the end of Reverend Wright.  Had he run in 2012 he would have jumped out and grabbed Candy Crowley’s, I hope, microphone, and he would have reacted.

And I’m mentioning that because that was very important.  People you talk to said I’m tired of losing.  For people who are wealthy and have connections and influence, losing nobly is an option.  But for people at the end of things, a worker out of a job, or somebody who can’t afford to get his teeth fixed, losing is bad.  They don’t want to lose.  And as one person said to me, if he’s going to lose at least I like him to screw things up.  And I think what he meant was we got a Samson now and he’s got his arms around the Philistine pillar, and if he loses, he’s going to tear down the whole damn temple with him. Like that Apple commercial where you run and throw the ball and chain into the screen and smash it.  That was a sense of anger that people had over Trump.

So this election was not that much different than some of the acrimonious elections we’ve had.  Trump was no more a crook or a wheeler/dealer than John Kennedy.  I mean his fortune was more transparent than the Kennedy fortune.  It was more transparent especially than the LBJ communications fraudulent fortune, and yet these people were called landmark figures in American political history.  His personal appetites reflected the life of Manhattan.  It did, but they were no more or, I should say, they were less excessive than those of John Kennedy or Bill Clinton who were both considered feminists.

So it was hard to take the idea that we had a singularly crude candidate seriously.  He said things that we regret, but — I don’t want to contextualize things, but I’ll just take two examples of his most egregious things. When he said of John McCain I prefer people to not be captured, but to capture others or kill others.  That came right out of the mouth of George Patton.  Patton said, “You don’t join up this Army to get captured or killed.  You join this Army to kill or capture.”  So it was an old refrain that Trump had haphazardly picked up, I think.

As far as the Mexican judge, that was the worst complaint that he said that a pending case was settled, was going to be settled by a Mexican judge, and everybody got outraged.  And I thought, how many times in my life has everybody said Victor Hanson is Swedish American?  Not once.  They said he was Swedish.  You’re Mexican.  I never heard anybody in Fresno County say, “Are you Armenian American?”  They always says he’s an Armenian.  They don’t mean that he lives in Armenia.  That was the way people talked.  Trump knew that.  And then I thought, if I had just said I was going to build a wall and cut off the United States from Mexico, would I want a judge who was a member of the San Diego Lawyers of La Raza, the race, whose etymology goes back to fascist Spain?  And then I thought, is this so terrible? My mother was an appellate court judge.  First female appellate court judge in California, and she used to call me and say, “You know this corporation is in a sexual harassment suit and they’re trying to avoid my court.”  And she said, “That’s what people do,” and that’s what people do.  They act like humans.  And so his problem is that if anything he’s too transparent.  He’s not Nixon.  He’s the anti–Nixon.  He’s too authentic.  He’s too raw and brass and people did not understand that and so they equated that with being the singularly crude candidate, which he wasn’t.

And by the way, I remember when Hillary said that she thought that he was a singularly crude candidate.  She said we go high when they go low.  I’m thinking, when have you ever done that?  Every politician goes low.  The only difference with Trump is he was honest enough to say that he never goes high.  And, I thought that was so unusual because Michelle Obama, do you remember in 2008, she said, “How can Hillary Clinton who can’t manage her own house, manage the White House?”  And then I thought, this is the woman who said, “I’ve never proud of my country”?  Never proud of my country?  I though wow.  “Downright mean country.”  They “raised the bar on me”?  This is her husband who said bring a gun to a knife fight, get in their faces, punish our enemies.  You didn’t build that?  He was the most divisive president in memory.

victorhansondavis_small Victor Davis Hanson Dismantles Myths of the 2016 Election Conservatives   

So that was a mythology as well about the Clintons and the Obamas being sober and judicious campaigners.  Another one was this campaign was not about issues.  The irony was that both of them were, they had such high negatives that they sort of canceled each other out and turned the campaign to issues.  Because nobody in their right mind on the left went to the Trump web site and went to the Hillary web site and said, “Oh, there’s no difference.” There was a world of difference.  There was far more difference than in 2012 and 2008.  Trump, whatever you think of him, was far more antithetical to his opponent than either Romney or McCain had been.  If you go down the list on Second Amendment, abortion, taxes, regulation, immigration, Obamacare, there was a world of difference.  This was a campaign about issues.  That’s why people voted the way they did.  I think that was another complete fabrication.

One of the big myths was that Trump was the divider who had ruined his party, and Obama-Hillary were uniters who would save the Democratic Party.  Nothing could have been further from the truth.  As we look out at the Democratic Party, it’s in ruins.  It’s in wreckage.  The Elizabeth Warren/Bernie Sanders wing jackals are fighting over a dead carcass with the strays left from the Hillary campaign.  Think about it.

What happened to the Democratic Party was that it got lured by this pied piper called Obama so at one point 8 years ago, if you were ambiguous about gay marriage or women in combat or transgendered restrooms, 8 years later if you were ambiguous you were a homophobe, racist, sexist, etc.  They had moved their party so radically to the left, and they could do it because of the unique ability of Barak Obama to get constituencies to come out and vote en mass for him, which were not transferable to an older white woman with a shrill witch-like voice like Hillary.  It wasn’t going to happen.  So what he had done is, as Obama rides off into the sunset to a very, very lucrative 1 percent, you-didn’t-build-that lifestyle, his legacy is this.  All of his initiatives will be overturned or destroyed by Donald Trump.  They will.

But he’s leaving one other legacy.  He’s saying to the Democratic Party, I left a legacy and ideological agenda that only 40 percent of the country believe in, and you’re stuck advancing it and yet you can’t get elected because you don’t have the personal narrative that I have.  And so it’s one of the most nihilistic legacies.  He’s ruined the Democratic Party.  It has been reduced.  No senate, no house, no presidency, no Supreme Court, no state legislatures, no state governments.  It is a municipal party now.  Nobody divided and ruined it more than Obama.

In contrast, for all of the wisdom of my colleagues at The National Review, Weekly Standard, Wall Street Journal, this is a moment where, have you noticed the people who were never Trump are, themselves, trying to hide how giddy they are because they look at this thing, and they say, House, Senate, presidency, Supreme Court picks, 3,000 federal appointees, state legislatures.  We’ve never had anything like this.  Even George Bush didn’t quite do this.  Wow.  This is amazing.

And then they say, “Well, except for immigration and trade, we’re not that divided.”  And so, Trump united people and he united the party and he left it in much greater shape.  If anybody in their right mind had said in September Donald Trump is going to win Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Michigan, and there is such a thing as the Reagan Democrat, blue collar workers, the missing Romney voters, but whoever they are, they were there.  So all the things that were supposed to be mythological, these people, they don’t exist — they do exist.  People say they’re gonna not vote, but they were secretly for Trump.  “Oh, that’s a myth.”  That happened.  And that was because he was able as a billionaire orange guy from Manhattan to appeal to workers who said, I think the country is in decline.  I think that people don’t listen to me, and I look at TV every day and I feel like I’m a stranger in a strange land.  The Latino vote, the white vote, the black vote.  I’m tired of that.  I just want people to be treated as people.

And the other thing is, this elite never lives by the ramifications of their own ideology.  If you live in California you have the highest power bills in the country and they’re all adjudicated by people on the coast who live in perpetual 70-degree weather.  I live in Selma. I go in August and Mexican-American people are in Walmart because it’s 110 outside.  They can’t afford the air conditioners.  I drive up to my picturesque ivory tower and go to the top of the ivory tower.  I’ve never turned on the air conditioner and heat in 10 years, and yet the people who live there are telling other people they’re tired of having water.  I drove over to Palo Alto the other day.  I see all these boarded up homes whose wells have gone dry.  I see all this land idle, and I think to myself, the people who did this depend on imported water from Hetch Hetchy Reservoir.  Do they ever cut off their own water and say take it, please? We don’t believe in transference of water.  It’s bad ecology. Never. They all want high-speed rail, and where do they first try it out?  Down in Hanford, California on a bunch of farmers.

So people think, you look at the Guccifer, you look at the hacked Colin Powell emails, you look at WikiLeaks.  What you see is not just smugness and arrogance, but it’s people who deliberately intend to dictate to other people, and they feel that their education or their sensitivity or their influence, whatever it is, insulates them from having to live what they advocate.  And Trump was able to expose environmentalism as boutique environmentalism.  And he was able to say there is such a thing as fair rather than just free trade.

When I grew up, there were four of us that went to college from Selma High School, and I remember coming back in 1971 and I talked to people I grew up with, and they said, “You really blew it, Victor.  What a waste of time.  I’m working at the Fruehauf Trailer.”  “I’m working at Upright Harvester.”  “I’m working at Del Monte.”  “I’m working at CalCan.”  These were all great jobs.  And then we read in the National Review that the answer to that is that these people are losers.  They’re just stupid.  They should just move.  As if everybody in Selma with an 88-year-old mother is supposed to put his house on his back, get on a motorcycle, drive to North Dakota and be a fracker.  That’s the kind of attitude that the establishment had to people.  And if you wanted to read the voice of Aslan about immigration, you don’t need to.  All you had to do was read the Wall Street Journal.  The positions were exactly the same.  Open borders, let the market adjudicate capital and labor.  And that’s written by people who have never had a dead dog found on their lawn or they’ve never been hit by somebody who had, as we say in Fresno County, the “three no’s”:  No insurance, no registration, no driver’s license.

I won’t mention the pundit, and he was giving me a big lecture that he had been very worried about me because he said to me, “Some of your op-eds on illegal immigrations are starting to worry me, and you’re an educated person.  You’ve got to be careful.”  I said, “Have you ever had a dead person on your property?”  I said, “The world, Mr. So and So, is divided into two people:  Those who have had a dead person on their property and those who haven’t.  Those who’ve had a dead person on their property oppose illegal immigration.  It’s that simple.”  He just looked at me and said, “What planet have you stepped in from?”  And that’s the point, isn’t it?

A couple of other things.  Horace, the great Latin poet in the first book, The Eleventh Ode, had a poem.  You know it, Carpe Diem: Seize the Day.  The first, the stanza right before it says, “As we speak a jealous age passes by” meaning time is very precious, and the stanza after Carpe Diem:  Seize the Day is “don’t worry about what brings tomorrow.”  You can’t control tomorrow.  So as we speak, Trump is being attacked every day.  They’re going to go after Trump University.  They’re going to go after his business dealings, his family, his wife’s immigration status.  Believe me, they’ll find another thing.  He will die from a thousand cuts so he has a race to get this agenda through.  Everybody says, have you noticed all these people who wanted to destroy him, now are saying he must be magnanimous.  Do you know what magnanimous means?  It means having a great soul, as Aristotle said.  But what was the context?  The context of magnanimity is the following.  It’s not to go to Munich.  That was not magnanimous.  That’s getting people killed.  Magnanimous, being magnanimous is defeating the opponent, putting your foot on his neck, humiliate him, and then saying I feel so sorry I’m not gonna quite smash your throat.  You can only be magnanimous when you win.  Magnanimity is refined to victors.  You don’t be magnanimous until you defeat the enemy.

So what Trump has to do in the next 100 days before he’s inaugurated, and then the next, he’s got to get this agenda through as quickly as he can.  He’s got to get these cabinet posts, and then the irony will be — because I think a lot of the people on the left don’t believe in anything other than power.  The funny thing is they will start to have a secret admiration that he could do things that they didn’t because Obama, remember, had the House, had the Senate, had the people behind him, and he couldn’t do anything, but being a nihilist.  And that agenda will fail.  But they’ll say, “My God, he actually did something.”  And then second of all, I don’t really think that they always believe in the utility or the efficacy of their own agenda, and they have a sick perverse delight to see what would happen if somebody didn’t listen to them and actually enacted an agenda because they think it might work and that was the case with Reagan.  I mean, Reagan Airport was named for him and the Democratic Senate didn’t oppose it because they did see that Reagan brought the economy back.  So if he has to move very quickly, and if he thinks that he’s going to reach out or be magnanimous or stall, or trim, he’s going to fail.  He’s only got a very few hours.

And, finally, I want to talk just a second on this election as it was a referendum on who is wise and who is stupid.  There’s a great play by Euripides, The Bacchae, and one of the refrains is “what is wisdom, sophia“? And the Greeks have a dichotomy between the Sophocles, the wise person, and the Sophistes, the wise–ass person, or the Sophists.  And what they were trying to tell us is that with material progress, wealth, luxury, influence, comes moral regress.  You’ve got be very careful.  So when you look at this WikiLeaks or what in the world is a man like Colin Powell, sober, judicious, beloved, whining in an email that Hillary has jacked up her election prices so much that there’s not going to be enough crumbs for him.  Or scheming about getting somebody in the Bohemian Grove or seeing somebody at the Hamptons.  Or hearing Podesta saying that we should go after Trump’s Russian ties, but, oh, by the way, I have a wonderful Putin stock portfolio.

And you start to see that in this world that we’ve created, education is not just disinterest learning anymore.  It’s not inductive.  At least we have these great universities and they’re rated as such worldwide, 15 of the top 20 universities are in America, but they’re only rated because of engineering and medicine and business.  It’s not liberal arts.  What the universities have become is sort of like a cattle brand. You get stamped on your rear end and it says “Yale” or “Stanford,” but it has no meaning anymore.  So we have all these people, Hillary – Yale, Bill – Yale, Podesta – Georgia.  What did it matter in the end if they’re going to lose their soul?  Who is the wise person?  I was asking myself this the other day because I had this inane talk with a fellow that I work with; Ph.D., very renowned,  very arrogant guy, who explained to me in great detail that only stupid idiots like me in the humanities would think that Trump could win because he was an expert in statistics, all this stuff.  I thought, this guy is a complete moron.  He’s wrong on everything.  But, then 3 hours later I went home and I was talking to this guy.  He had about three teeth missing and he was fixing a hydraulic ram on my farm, and I thought, wow, he took the seals out of a hydraulic ram – $3,000.00 piece of thing, and within 25 minutes he was doing this.  I said, “Do you have to worry about your manual?” “No, I’ve done this.” And he was a craftsman, and yet we call him stupid and a loser and this other guy brilliant.  

And then this was almost as if there is a God. I think there is a God.  I went inside and I turned on the TV, and my wife said, “You should listen to this because he’s talking about what you mentioned,” and I mentioned it to her the other day as well and another incident.  And Trump got on and he said that we need vocational training.  These people are not stupid.  I see them.  I worked.  And I’m a builder.  And I think that’s what this election is about.  Who is wise and who is foolish?  The pollsters were stupid.  The handlers with Hillary are stupid.  The pundits were stupid.  The people who actually can do something and don’t get credit because it’s muscular or involves craftsmanship, many times they’re just as bright as the people that we call bright.  It’s really a redefinition of who’s smart and who’s stupid, and more importantly, who’s ethical and who’s amoral.  Thank you very much.

Audience member: Good morning.  What do you say to the people, the Republicans, the Never-Trumpers, telling them to come home?  Because I’ve met people throughout the weekend that were still very anti–Mr. Trump.

Victor David Hanson: I wrote about four articles trying to wrack my brain through every argument, and I’m gonna have to reboot them because tomorrow I join the National Review, and there’s only one or two of us, and we’re going to have to make this argument again and again.  One of them, of course, is, as I said, there are issues involved besides the emissaries of those issues.  And anybody in their right mind who is a Democrat and sat out because Sanders didn’t get the vote, was a vote for Trump.  And anybody who is a conservative and sat out and said, “I can’t vote for Trump,” was voting for Hillary.  It’s just a fact of life.  So, you, there are agendas and I always go with a person who is 51 percent more conservative.  In Trump’s case it was a no-brainer.  He’s 90 percent more, his positions were.  That’s one thing. 

The second is I didn’t think that Trump’s flaws — and they were numerous — were in what we call in philology, the indicative mood.  They were subjunctive.  They were what he might do in office.  Because he had not held office.  Where in Hillary’s they were in the indicative.  She had created a crime syndicate.  There was no doubt about it.  Pay-per-play bribery.  She had lied to the FBI 27 times, said she didn’t know what was going on.  Everything, she couldn’t open her mouth about the email service without lying and so she was really a criminal, and I thought that’s indicative.  And that’s aside Benghazi and the mess in the Middle East and Risa, a dismal record.  So I thought to myself, he is a potential problem; she is an actual problem.  And then, finally, as I said in this talk, she was appealing to – Trump had all the right enemies.  All the people you don’t like, don’t like Trump. That’s a fact. Bruce and I would talk a lot, and I’d say, “I can’t stand that writer, I can’t.”  And he would say, “Yeah, he’s voting for Hillary.”  It was just predictable.  So that’s very important to have the right enemies, not just the right friends. 

One thing I would say, just off the topic if I could before the next question, I had a lot of admiration for people that I didn’t quite think got enough credit in the election, and one of them was Kellyanne Conway because she’s the first female campaign manager that won, and the first Republican, and I thought, my God, she’s really a — and the reason I say that is that we have some very distinguished pollsters at the Hoover Institution.  One of them said to me, “Well, he’s just running an amateur campaign.”  Who in the hell put him in Wisconsin and Michigan?  They can’t win those.  And I thought, wow, she is on to something.  She had an internal polling or an instinct that Colorado and Nevada were lost because of Latino high turnout, but that she could appeal across state lines to the — that was brilliant.  Another person who is a colleague of mine, I don’t know him well, but if Peter Schweizer had not written Clinton Cash I think that the election would be much different.  And finally, every time I picked up a piece of paper, I was told how awful Stephen Bannon was.  And I thought to myself, I said, in 2000 a guy called me up named Steve Bannon, and we spent the day together, and he does documentaries, and I’ve known him.  Steve Bannon is many things, but one thing he’s not is stupid.  He’s brilliant.  And I thought when he got on the campaign, this is not going to be a Romney lose nobly campaign, or McCain.  Whether he wins or not, he will take it to them.  And so, yes he was pilloried in the press.  So I think those three people we owe a lot to.  Thank you.  Next question.

Audience member: If Hillary had robbed a bank instead of having a criminal organization, would the left or the media, I guess it’s the same thing, have looked at it any differently?

Victor David Hanson: No. In the way that, they, they have two things.  They feel that when Joe Biden says that Barak Obama has a clean, you know, he’s clean, or he has a non-Negro accent, they don’t see that as a window into his dark soul.  They think it’s an inadvertent gaffe.  When Trump says something about a Mexican judge, that’s a rare glimpse into how awful he is.  That’s the way that they look at the world, and they believe that also that because they’re utopian, they believe in fairness and egalitarianism, and any means necessary to achieve those ends are justified by their superior moral agenda.  That’s the second thing.  And, the third is, and this is, I think, was a problem for Trump.  They don’t define morality or ethics by the control of one’s appetites, as we do.  So personal behavior and character is not as important as a global cosmic agenda, and so it’s easier for them to overlook it, and by the way, I mean, there was never a Never Hillary moment, was there?  I thought, well Never Trump movement, are we going to have all of these people 50, 100 former Democratic people who served in three administrations write a “Oh, My God” letter; “I cannot support Hillary because of these criminal acts”?  Never.  And then I thought, wow, Bernie Sanders is an idealistic socialist, so obviously when he learns that Donna Brazile sabotaged the debates and helped him lose that Debbie Wasserman Schultz was colluding with the White House to make sure it was not a fair primary, that all of his allegations that had been laughed at by Hillary that she was a Wall Street stooge were true, then he would say, “Not in my name.”  No, he got right on board because the left doesn’t think like that.  They think that there’s an agenda, and we all have to be lockstep to it and so there’s no chance that they would do that.  Not at all.  There was never a Never Hillary movement on the left.  There should have been, but there wasn’t.  No.  I don’t think it’s going to change.  I think history shows that people on the left develop an idea that they’re for the little guy, period, and then everything is fair after that.  They like humanity, they just, as we always say, they hate humans.

Audience member: There’s one more person I think we need to thank deeply and that’s Julian Assange.  Right?  And the other, and so my question is, is there anything that Trump could do — he can’t make him chief of cyber security – 

Victor David Hanson: I have a little problem with that because I’m not a big fan of his.  But if you want to talk about actual effect on the election, had there not been those WikiLeaks, it would have been very hard for Trump to win.  He’d knock one or two points off her popularity because he hit her where she was most vulnerable.  She had a façade that she was liberal and what did the WikiLeaks show us? That in the world of John Podesta, Catholics, big Democratic constituents, are medieval, blacks have funny first names, Latinos are needy, and boy that really undermined that liberal pretense.  It really did a lot of damage to her.

Audience member: But can Trump get help, get him released from this prison?  I mean, you know at the embassy? Can he do anything? I think he deserves it.  We owe him.

Victor David Hanson: Trump has, and this is not a term of disparagement, Trump has something called animal cunning.  And you saw it. I’m not saying that necessarily it was enlightening, but when he looked at Jeb Bush, he looked at him for about 10 minutes, and he said he had low energy.  He does.  And I had never thought, I always thought that Marco Rubio was 6-6.  All of a sudden, he said Marco Rubio, and he shrunk.  And I always thought Rand Paul had integrity.  I didn’t agree with him, but I thought that’s a principled guy, so when Rand Paul said to him in that debate, “You take money and you give money,” and he said, “You should know, you came into my office and begged for $10,000.00.”  Oh my God.  And then, I liked Ted Cruz, but I thought Ted Cruz played fast and loose with the truth.  And it wasn’t just that he said “lying Ted Cruz,” he did his Apprentice act, the “Lyin’ Ted Cruz.”  So he destroyed six, not defeated them, but destroyed them.  When John Kasich, like an Old Testament sermon, would start prophesizing, Trump really said, “Blah blah blah.”  That’s what he said.  So he has animal cunning.  He can size things up and remember that these people had all of these research teams on the Republican side.  They had all of these issues, and yet this guy comes out and he picks on two issues.  You know, he always said China.  Trade.  And everybody and the Republicans said what is he talking about?  We’re Wall Street Journal free traders.  Free trade helps everybody.  It lifts all boats.  In theory it does, but in fact, people cheat, and this guy, who knows about cheating, spotted that, and then he looked at immigration and every time he gave a speech on illegal immigration, the next day in the paper, there was some poor soul who had been killed by an illegal alien who had left the scene of an accident or murder, and Trump would say, “See.”  So he had animal cunning.  He does.  And, don’t ever forget that.  He has wonderful political instincts.  No doubt about it.

Audience member: I have a question.  Do you have an opinion regarding the giving of a pardon to Hillary Clinton, and if so, what is it? 

Victor David Hanson: Oh well, you know, everybody’s, I think, dissemmining faults.  They say well you can give a blank a pardon they won’t pardon her for just any, well they did that.  Nixon was never formally charged.  So they gave him a blank pardon.  You know, I always thought we had this idea about special prosecutors because of the, everybody thought on the left that Ken Starr had gone too far, and then everybody on the right thought Walsh had gone too far so we’re gonna just agree never to use these things.  It was always a good idea, but for some reason we thought we can’t do it.  We should have had a special prosecutor from Day One.  The idea that Loretta Lynch could investigate Hillary Clinton who had been Secretary of State and was running for the Democratic nomination and then on the ticket was absurd.  It should have been a special prosecutor.  James Comey, he’s a tragic figure.  He kept trying to square the circle. He had been appointed by this team.  He wanted to be part of this team, and he wanted to be independent, and he ended up being nothing.  I mean, when you get into that situation, that Hamlet situation, he ended up just not pleasing his masters and then being, showing no integrity, as he flip-flopped.  And remember this was not necessarily a nice guy because he was the one who had appointed Patrick Fitzgerald who just demonized Scooter Libby and went after Conrad Black, so I mean there is such a thing called hubris, and he got what he deserved, and he’s disgraced now. 

But, I don’t think Obama ever cared about anything or anybody but Obama.  I think Bill Clinton was kind of a nice guy, so when he went out and said, “Aw, shucks, Mark Rich’s wife gave me a bunch of money, I’ll pardon him.”  Hillary’s got a run for Senate in New York, I’ll pardon a bunch of Puerto Rican terrorists.  He’ll do whatever, you know, nice guy, but I don’t think Obama thinks like that.  He’s thinking right now my whole legacy, Obamacare, reset, Iran deal, Middle East, deficits, huge staggering debt, no GDP, growth zero, you name it.  There’s nothing there, and what is there is going to be overturned by Trump.  My legacy is to ride off in the sunset as a super-statesman and make a lot of money and he can’t do that, he’ll end up like Gerald Ford if he pardons her.  So I don’t think he’s gonna pardon her.  I think the only question is will Trump do as he says, and appoint a special prosecutor.  I think that he doesn’t have to make a big deal.  I think he just should be on a press conference one day and somebody will say, “Are you going to appoint a –” and all he has to say is, “Wouldn’t you?”  And that’s it.  And do it.  No big deal.  And let her – I don’t have a lot of sympathy for somebody who abuses the Constitution and lectures everybody how moral she is. And finally, what they don’t understand about Donald Trump, this is what’s ironic.  He did something that George H. W. Bush could not do.  He did something that Barak Obama could never do.  He put the Clintons in permanent retirement.  Only he did that.  One more question here.

Audience member: We’ve been in a defensive mindset for the last 8 years.  In fact, probably I would say over the last, nearly over a century.  We’ve been in a defensive mindset and I notice people around here in this conference have all been in that defensive mindset.  How can we make the Democrats look — can you explain what we need to do in an offensive mindset to take back — because we now have power for the first time in 100 years.

Victor David Hanson: Well power is always a vanishing commodity once you obtain it.  It’s like deterrence.  It’s very fragile and we learned that with Obama.  He was, remember when he came into power, it wasn’t just that he made people’s legs tingle or he had a perfect pants crease. Michael Bassoff said he was the smartest president in the world.  I think people at Newsweek said he was like a god.  And yet, after he tried to ram through Obamacare, he was pretty much going to lose the House in 2010.  The same thing when George W. Bush was reelected in 2004. I thought to myself when he flew over Katrina and looked down, even though Katrina was not his fault, he should have crash landed into the lagoon and then emerge in a suit and tie covered with mud, and the same things on Iraq. He went from very popular after 9/11 to very unpopular.  And that can happen to Trump.  So what does he need to do?  I think it’s like being on the back of a lion or tiger. You can’t relax.  You have to use power and use it and use it, and in his defense, he has media instinct.  So I really do think when we get the next disaster, and we will, a natural disaster, tragically, Trump will be a media guy out there and not be so vulnerable to those charges. 

One other thing is that how did he win?  Because in some sense he won because ten million voters didn’t turn out for Hillary.  Michigan was lost by 12,000 votes, 80,000 voters who voted for Obama in Detroit alone did not turn out.  Everybody said that’s because they didn’t like Hillary as much, that’s true, but there was something about Kellyanne and Bannon’s idea just to suppress that vote by appealing to people they didn’t want to vote for Trump, but they gave the message that he cares about you.  You don’t have to vote for me, just don’t vote for her.  And that was very successful, and so I think what he’s got to do is, I think he was sincere and when he goes into, I did a radio interview yesterday, and somebody said, well the inner city, and I said, yeah, the inner city, like Trump was a mayor of Philadelphia for 50 years or did he create a moonscape.  He didn’t do that.  So what he has to do is this new constituency of working class whites and the 27 percent of Latinos and the 20 percent of blacks, he has to make that a permanent base of the republican party, and he has to do that by, he’s got to pick up the Wall Street Journal every day and what Bret Stephens says he’s going to say, I’m going to do the opposite of that.  And he really has to say I’m a man of the people, and he’s got to keep going to the inner city, and he, and I think he’s sincere, he’s got to keep going to places like southern Michigan and Ohio and appeal to people and bring them in to the republican party, so when my colleagues say, well then we don’t want, this is one final thing, were you shocked when I would read Max Boot or Robert Kagan or David Frum and they’d say these people have to apologize to get back into this party.  No you have to apologize because these people are the salt of the earth and they’re now willing to join your team and they won’t joint your team if you stay on these coastal corridors and talk down to them as you have for 30 years.  They’re the ones that need to apologize, and I think Trump understands that.  He’s a man, he ran on being a man of the people.  He can’t get off the back of that tiger.  He has to keep going to Fresno, Baker, all these places, and I think he will win eventually 40 to 50 percent of the black vote and Latino vote if he can bring economic change to them.  Thank you very much.

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