Loyal reader and frequent Commenter “Other Bill” sent me this essay by conservative writer Victor Davis Hanson of the Hoover Intstitution, with the note that it is “Probably as close as you will get to what you’ve been looking for.” I think he’s correct, but since what I’ve been looking for is a single rational reason to vote for Trump, and Hanson’s essay consists of irrational beliefs, rationalizations, terrible logic and skewed values that many Republicans will adopt, it is like sending someone searching for a unicorn this…
It’s interesting but disgusting, and not what I’m after.
Hanson’s piece begins…
If Donald Trump manages to curb most of his more outrageous outbursts by November, most Republicans who would have preferred that he did not receive the nomination will probably hold their noses and vote for him.
How could that be when a profane Trump has boasted that he would limit Muslim immigration into the United States, talked cavalierly about torturing terrorist suspects and executing their relatives, promised to deport all eleven-million Mexican nationals who are residing illegally in the U.S., and threatened a trade war with China by slapping steep tariffs on their imports?
A number of reasons come to mind.
Hanson has already invalidated his essay at the outset by material omission. If the items he mentioned were the only reasons to oppose Trump, his subsequent arguments might make sense….well, more sense than they do. But to even try to list the reasons Trump is unfit is to understate the case. In addition to what Hanson mentions,
- Trump reduces all debates to ad hominem attacks, which would degrade the standard for all debate, culture wide, with devastating effects should he become President.
- He has advocated the virtues of bribery, while mocking the virtue of integrity.
- He sees nothing unethical about conflicts of interest.
- He has endorsed the use of doxxing to retaliate against critics, indicating his disregard for privacy and confidentiality.
- He endorses vengeance.
- He is a misogynist, a sexist, and a sexual harasser.
- He has lied repeatedly, and then lied about lying.
- He refuses to apologize even when he has been exposed as engaging in reckless wrongdoing.
- He has refused to engage in serious study of the issues, preferring instead to improvise answers to policy questions, showing laziness and a lack of seriousness.
- He is a clinical narcissist, meaning that he is unstable and suffering from a crippling personality disorder.
- All of the individuals he has appointed to represent him in the media have been exposed as incompetent, indicting Trump’s judgment as well as his claim that he’ll “appoint the best people.”
- He has endorsed the views of white supremacists.
- He is incapable of giving a dignified, articulate, coherent speech.
- He does not understand the difference between rationalizations and ethics.
- He has no military experience.
- He has no government experience.
- He would probably be the least intelligent President in U.S. history. (There are a few we could have a legitimate argument about. Those Presidents, however, had other virtues Trump not only doesn’t have, but doesn’t care about.)
Is there more? Of course there is more…much more. Pages and pages more. Hanson gives five policy-based reasons to object to Trump, plus the fact that he is “profane.” (This is equivocation: Trump isn’t just profane; he is vulgar, boorish, undignified and crude.) That’s misleading. That’s deceit. That’s how the supporters of Hillary Clinton, if they were Trump supporters, would falsely try to mislead critics.
Here are Hanson’s “reasons” that “come to mind”—I may not be able to resist an occasional bolded remark before I’m through quoting—:
“First, Trump stays in the news not just by taking extreme positions, but also by taking extreme positions on issues that are already extreme. When Mexico prints comic books advising its own citizens on how to enter the U.S. illegally, when the major illegal-alien lobbying group is called The National Council of La Raza (“The Race”), and when major U.S. cities, in Confederate-style, declare themselves “sanctuaries” in which U.S. federal immigration law does not apply, then we long ago entered zones of extremism….Of course, Trump would be wiser to become both more specific and reasonable about solutions to illegal immigration. [Gee, Victor, ya think???????]“ Trump sounds crazy—and dangerous—in his idiotic idea to ban entry into the U.S. on the basis of religion. But is that inanity any less extreme than the administration’s European-style wish to welcome in tens of thousands of mostly young males from the war-torn Middle East without any proper method of identification and audit—at a time of spikes in radical Islamic terrorism in the West? [ Hmmm...maybe it is Hanson who doesn’t understand the difference between rationalizations and ethics. So Republicans will vote for Trump because others are also irresponsible and irrational. Great plan. Great “reason.”] Most believe that he will back down from his original, headline-grabbing positions, and eventually offer more studied and reasonable solutions to an ignored problem that otherwise might not have been aired.”
Enough of this “reason.” A reason to vote for Trump is that he won’t really do what he says. It’s bad enough to vote for politicians because you believe they will do what they say when everything indicates they won’t, but this…wow. Hanson is saying, in essence, that Republicans are stupid.
Here is the second “reason” (you will see “reason” in quotes because reason has nothing to do with any of them):
“A second reason why many conservatives will vote for Trump is that they, like everyone else, are cynical about what candidates say and what they, as presidents, actually do. In 2000, George W. Bush ran as the realist alternative to neocon interventionist John McCain. Obama in 2008 never uttered the word “transgendered.” Instead, he ran against gay marriage, outlined a health plan to the right of Hillary’s that protected patients’ existing coverage and physicians, predicted a new era of presidential transparency, promised post-racial reconciliation, insisted that he could not subvert immigration law or grant amnesties by executive orders, harked on balancing the budget and reducing the national debt, and, as a former law lecturer, vowed to confine the presidency within its constitutional limits.”
I don’t even follow Hanson’s thinking here. “I’m voting for Trump because I’m cynical” is no more rational than the ever-popular “I’m voting for Trump because I’m angry” or “I’m voting for Trump because I’m itchy” or “I’m voting for Trump because I don’t understand why the Red Sox left Clay Buchholz in the starting rotation so long.”
FAIL. Let’s see “reason” three:
“Third, we have become so inured to the outrageous, that many conservatives are not quite sure whether Trump is just a more in-your-face version of current politicians or if he truly is an outlier in his vulgarity.”
This is another “Republicans are stupid, I guess” theory. What other politician would say that prisoners of war, and specifically tortured and self-sacrificing POW’s like Senator McCain, aren’t heroes? What other politician would mock a handicapped supporter—allude to a critical female reporter as being “on the rag”—talk about the size of his penis? What more evidence that Trump is an “outlier”—this is more equivocation: the term Hanson should use is “disgrace”—would the dumbest of Republicans need?
Maybe #4 is better:
“Fourth, most Republicans do not quite buy the #NeverTrump argument that Trump is running to the left of Hillary Clinton.”
Straw man alert! Hanson chooses the silliest of all #Never Trump arguments to knock down, ignoring the primary one, which cannot be knocked down, succinctly articulated by P.J. O’Roark:
“I am endorsing Hillary, and all her lies and all her empty promises. It’s the second-worst thing that can happen to this country, but she’s way behind in second place. She’s wrong about absolutely everything, but she’s wrong within normal parameters.”
The issue isn’t ideology or conservatism. The issue is character and trust. Is Hanson really saying that if Trump said and did all that we have seen and heard but Republicans were confident that he was a “real’ conservative, then he would be a respectable candidate and worthy of support? I hope not.
For his grand finale, the best this respected conservative pundit can come up with is…
Finally, Republicans might embrace a democratic fatalism—or the opinion, in other words, that “if that’s what the people want, that’s what the people get.”
Sure, let’s help the United States of America commit cultural and political suicide. That will teach ’em!
“Irresponsible” is too kind a word for this “reason.”
So is “moronic.”
So that’s it. That’s all Hanson’s got. I would say “Nice try, Victor,” but it wasn’t a nice try. It was a pathetic try.
And the vain search for a genuine reason to make Donald Trump President continues.
15 thoughts on “Faking The Unicorn: The Hoover Institution’s Victor Davis Hanson Explains Why Republican Will Vote For Trump”
I’ve never understood the deference I see Victor Davis Hanson treated with, even by many liberals. He has always been a hack. I’ve long called him the “Cosmopolitan magazine” of conservative pundits, since I see roughly the same article of his published in the Fresno Bee every few weeks, with only a different headline and a few tweaks, but the same exact grievances and feints at intellectual superiority. I saw him speak at Fresno State when I was in college, and remember finding his speaking style impressive and persuasive. His writing style is similar. But once you actually examine what he’s saying, it’s completely empty.
He also tells at least one lie per article: Obama didn’t “run against” gay marriage. He said he was personally against it, but never made a political case against it, and never supported a single anti-gay policy.
Good point about Obama. The article is really embarrassingly weak. Has Instapundit pimped it yet?
Here is a more rational and intellectually honest conservative explaining why Trump is UN-acceptable. http://betsyspage.blogspot.com/2016/05/cruising-web_27.html
The link to Hansen’s piece does not seem to work…
My apologies—it does now.
&^%#@ WordPress made one of its patented “improvements to things that were fine already so that now they don’t work”, and it makes linking trickier than before. I’m getting used to it.
In the minutia department: as someone who was on the debate team for a bit in school, IMHO none of the Presidential debates have ever qualified as actual debates, properly defined. With the advent of television this mislabeling has only worsened. To the point of making me gurgle and retch. URP.
A Presidential candidatesdebate is self-defining, Ed. This is the “no-true Scotsman Fallacy,” Like saying that baseball with Designated Hitter isn’t real baseball.
What about a presidential race with a designated Hitler?
I bet you’ve been waiting for an opportunity to make that joke. You’re welcome.
Pathological narcissist vs. pathological liar. Don’t you just love it? Either demeans the United States, and will have long term negative effects on our nation, the way it makes politics, our place in the world, and frankly, the world itself. This is a low I never thought we’d reach.
I honestly don’t believe she’s pathological. She *can* keep from lying. She doesn’t fake stuff just to fake it. She ‘falsifies’ or ‘improves’ or ‘evolves’ or whatever when she has something to gain. That’s not lying just to lie. It’s lying for points or votes or to change the game. I’ve dealt with pathological liars and they lie about the toothpaste they use and where they ate dinner because they truly can’t help it. She uses lies as a tool. Poorly, quite often, but I don’t think pathologically.
Trump is a nasty piece of work, his only virtue may be that he actually hasn’t broken the law while in office and lied to the American people while employed by the US government. He is the only ethical choice.
That’s just silly, Steve. Every murderer in Federal prison “hasn’t broken the law while in office and lied to the American people while employed by the US government.” You don’t need to give them the chance to know how they perform. Your argument is a rationalization, a weak one, and also denial. There is always something worse than the worst–I bet there are candidates I would have to vote for Trump over…a couple recent examples come close: Sanders, Carson. The bottom line is that it cannot be ethical to make Trump President, when nothing, truly nothing, suggest that he would do anything but wreck the office, the nation, the culture and politics. Trust me: I have as low an opinion of Hillary as you do.
My Republican friends who are not #NeverTrump are holding their nose and voting for him because he is not Hillary. They think he may do more for the military than Hillary. He may not take us as far away from the Constitution as Hillary will. I have friends in California who are afraid because the Muslims are literally taking over the area where they live. They want him because he’s promised to take care of that problem and they believe him. They like him because he is a business man and hopefully will bring this country back into the black. I think another reason is that he is an unknown quantity. They KNOW exactly what they’re getting with Hillary. Trump has told enough lies that they have HOPE that something good MIGHT come out of his Presidency. They KNOW nothing good will come out of a Hillary Presidency.
I think they’re putting a lot of HOPE in a crazy man.
And, yes, it’s not rational but neither is the fact that we have any of the current candidates that we have running for President. We live in a very irrational time.