By Hillsdale College March 8, 2019
HUGH HEWITT: Morning glory, America. Bonjour, hi, Canada. Greetings to the globe from HughHewitt.com. If you're watching on Univision, you won't actually see me, because we taped this two weeks ago.
I'm in Vietnam, and I want to thank Mark Davis and Bob Frantz for sitting in for me all week long, while I finish my vacation with the fetching Mrs. Hewitt. But, before I left, I sat down to tape two of our Hillsdale Dialogues. The last radio hour of the week on The Hugh Hewitt Show is always a conversation with Dr. Larry Arnn or one of his colleagues at Hillsdale College, the lantern of the north.
All things Hillsdale are collected at Hillsdale.edu, including a remarkable new video series with my guest, Victor Davis Hanson, about the book previous to the one we are discussing—The Second World Wars—and all of my conversations with Dr. Arnn, V.D.H., and everyone else from Hillsdale dating back to 2013. There 250 of them now. The best podcasting you can possibly want are collected at HughforHillsdale.com.
Victor Davis Hanson, your new book, The Case for Trump, has dropped now. It came out on March 4th or 5th. It's in bookstores everywhere.
It's shocked a lot of the left, and, even before I left on my vacation, I tweeted a couple of posts about it, because I'd read the book and was very full of praise. And I got what I expect will be the blowback to your book—not an argument but an invective: “He's a crank.” That's a direct quote, and I believe that that goes to what we were talking about when we left off last week, which is the contempt of Progressives.
You write on page 46-7 of The Case Against Trump [sic: The Case for Trump], “What is again odd about these example of open progressive contempt for the American interior is not just how ubiquitously politicians and journalists voice them but also how candidly and indeed confidently they had repeated notions of smelly, toothless, lazy”—quote—“‘garbage people.’” In that sense, those who hated Trump and what he represented also explained precisely why so many went to the polls to elect him, and why Trump's own uncouthness was in its own manner contextualized by his supporters as a long overdue pushback to the elite disdain and indeed hatred shown them. As one side loudly snickered about the stinky white Trump demographic, the other quietly voted.” I think that's profound, Victor.
VICTOR DAVIS HANSON: Well, I think we all agree that people on the left felt that they had license to say just pretty terrible things about people's teeth and smell, and the people who were saying this were not representative of the American people. They were a small, coastal elite, and they were in a culture. And they talked about people that were voting for Trump the way that you as a journalist and your colleagues and myself on the Conservative side did not talk about leftists.
We might have joked about that they were out of touch or that they were elites. But we didn't describe their clothing, or we didn't describe their facial features, or their teeth. And they felt that they could engage in that asymmetry, because they were morally superior to both Trump and his supporters. And so they didn't understand that they were creating a new resentment, and they didn't understand the Electoral College. Because they'd been nursed on Obama politics, in which the white working classes were either not participating or demographically doomed. And the red states had all flipped blue in the American Southwest, and this was the Obama-Clinton 16-year regnum.
And then suddenly, Trump comes along, crafts some issues that appeal to Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Ohio, Florida, North Carolina, and he doesn't need much. He flips these rural areas that then outvote, or, at least, match Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Ann Arbor, Detroit, and he wins those states. And they're still clueless why those people came out and voted, in a way they hadn't, en masse for somebody like Trump.
And, if you say that Trump was more authentic than Hillary, they'd say, No, he lies. But think about you—Trump would never go to a rally of African-American voters and change his patois the way Obama did. He would never go to southern voters and say you all. He would never dress up in camouflage the way John Kerry did back in 2004.
So, whatever he is, people thought, I wouldn't dress that way. I wouldn't put my skin color that way. I wouldn't comb my hair over, but he is what he is. And he'll dress with suit and tie at the Indiana State Fair in a way that no other politician we've seen does, and he's the first politician on the Republican side that said our.
HEWITT: Yeah. You point that. He uses that a lot. Now, there is a rage machine that has been constructed on the left. Media Matters for America has a tracker, or we call him Emo, who listens to every word of this show and tries to distort it and create rage against me and against my guests.
They are creating rage against Trump, but what you point out in The Case for Trump is every action has a reaction, and as they stoke these fires in various ways of rage against Trump, they start backfires among people that are being caught up in it, and they're not embarrassed to be for Trump. I refuse to be embarrassed.
He's appointed the best judges of my life. For 30 years, I've been working to get an Originalist majority on the Supreme Court—and 30 appeals court judges who actually believe in the Constitution. He's far better than W., largely because Harry Reid made it possible to put Conservatives on with just a majority.
But Mitch McConnell has orchestrated the opening beautifully, and he's delivered on the two things that matter to me: national security spending and judges more than anything else. At the end of your book, you write in detail about what he's delivered. A lot of other people care about other things, but for me, it’s spending and judges, and Trump delivered.
HANSON: He did, and I can remember, a decade ago, on your show, when you were very upset about the temporary nomination of Harriet Miers. We talked about David Souter. And we thought, How in the world can a Republican president fall into this Earl Warren, Brennan trap—John Paul Stevens, once again—of appointing a justice that's mildly Conservative and turns out to be fanatically Progressive on the Court? He hasn't done that, and more importantly, we're told he doesn't listen to anybody. He really outsourced his legal expertise to the Federalist Society, which is one of the most prestigious groups.
HEWITT: A brilliant move.
HEWITT: And I have to correct the record, though, Victor. When W. appointed Harriet, I was disappointed, but I protected her. I did everything I could to get her confirmed, because I thought that—
HANSON: I know you did, but we didn't think that that was—
HEWITT: It wasn't a good idea. I felt that—and I was right, I think, in retrospect—if you defeated Miers, you wounded Bush. And so you have to defend your people in battle even when they screw up. Trump is interesting about this. You do not write much. The critique of Trump is that he's loyal conditionally, and that he often abandons loyalty quickly. What do you make of that critique?
HANSON: Well, I think it's reciprocal. If he perceives that you're loyal, then he backs you. If he perceives that you don't show gratitude—gratitude I think's a better word than loyalty with him. He believes in gratitude. So, he's mad at John McCain, because John McCain came to him, as did Romney, and begged for his endorsement. And he gave it to them, and then they didn't reciprocate in kind.
HEWITT: That was an interesting take, by the way. I had not read that take before until I read The Case for Trump, your new book. And I'd never really considered that ingratitude, which is for me a cardinal sin. I don't put it in the political context the way he does, because politics is basically all fake anyway, but personal betrayal is always a wounding thing.
HANSON: And I think it is, and I think he's reciprocal. Even the worst tweets that he did—the McCain tweet I thought was the worst—they're all retaliatory. I'm not excusing them. I'm just saying he's like a coiled cobra, and, when somebody attacks him, then he says, I'm a counterpuncher.
But almost every single notorious quote that he's given, or tweet, if you go back and research what prompted that, it was somebody gratuitously thinking, “I'm going to pile in on Trump.” I'm going to be Joe Biden saying, I'll take him behind the gym and beat him up. Or I'm going to be Megyn Kelly and just hound him, or I'm going to be anybody. And then Trump—his attitude is, I'm going to demolish this person that attacked me in such a crude and crass way.
HEWITT: And what's interesting, Victor, I've got a couple of Trump tattoos, but they're light, because I only boxed with him. We sparred. We didn't go 15 rounds three times like Frazier and Ali, or it was 15, twelve, and 15. The people who did always lost.
HANSON: They did, and it creates a sense of deterrence. So you see fewer and fewer people want to go down. I think in the book I said they don't want to get dirty with Trump in a wrestling match, because Trump's actually been in a wrestling match.
HEWITT: Yeah. Really. Actually, honest to God true, been in a wrestling match.
HANSON: Who would want to get in there with him, and so he understands that. And so, for all of their supposedly courageous acts, they're not very courageous anymore. They don't want to go on head-to-head with him, and so they do it behind his back, or they do it aside.
HEWITT: But he also—he's going to have to do again, if he wants to win re-election. Unlike Democrats running right now, who will not go near Fox News or this show, Trump would go anywhere in 2015 and '16 and go as long as they wanted. I remember one hour with Anderson Cooper. He's fearless about an interview.
DAVIS HANSON: He was, and they could never square that circle of this person who supposedly hates the media and is so unfair to it—but being the most accessible president we've ever seen—or presidential candidate—to the media, and I think he understood that, for 16 years or 15 years, he was host of this real TV show, and he developed these repartee skills that he thought were superior to the media people. One thing about Trump they don't understand is, I think he doesn't really judge something as smart or stupid but whether it gets ratings or not.
HEWITT: When we come back, we’re going to talk about that, because you are so right. Victor Davis Hanson is my guest on this week's Hillsdale Dialogue. The book, The Case for Trump, basically obviates the need for every other Trump book for the next two years. Go and get it at Amazon.com and any bookstore. I'll be right back on The Hugh Hewitt Show.
Twenty-one minutes after the hour on the Hillsdale Dialogue, America. It's Hugh Hewitt. I'm not back from vacation, but I pre-taped this before I left, because it's the Hillsdale Dialogue. And Victor Davis Hanson has this amazing new book out called The Case for Trump.
And, Victor, when we went to break, you were mentioning something I often tell people in my speeches, having done four of the presidential debates, and, like you, I have not been to the White House. I'm not Trump's pal. I don't talk to him. I haven't interviewed him since the election, in fact. And, yeah, I think he kind of views me as kryptonite, because something bad always happens when we talk to each other.
But I voted for him. I'm a reluctant Trump voter. But I've often remarked to people, he had a set of TV skills that you could only see up close, like staying on your mark, like remaining fixed faced, like striking when you needed to strike—that were honed in a dozen years of reality television.
In other words, for the era in which we are living, the media vastly underestimated the value of the skills of not only television but also being a developer. Developers are always flexible. They are whoever they need to be, in whatever room they are, with whomever they are, and they always know the deal can be amended. They underestimated that completely.
HANSON: They did, and they should have read his various—even if they're ghostwritten—his Art of the Deal books, because he sets out in every one of them the art of the deal, and that is to confuse your enemy; to be boisterous; to make the enemy, or the opponent, or the adversary, the negotiator, want to get out of that room as quickly as possible and conclude a deal; or to demand five times what you would be willing to take under negotiation. And the settlement, 55% is OK—51%—but you never ask that. You ask for 90%.
And then, about the Twenty-Fifth Amendment—he says in all of the books you want to seem like you're unstable, you want to be unpredictable. Predictability, which we saw with Obama, is insane, especially, I think, in foreign negotiations and diplomacy, even at the nuclear level.
HEWITT: Yeah, the madman theory that Nixon invented. But, if I can, I want to be honest in my critique of the book. There's one thing I disagree with you on, and it's probably a bit self-justifying: the Judge Curiel controversy. When that erupted, I went nuclear. I said that this is a plane headed towards a mountain. If he continues to attack him as a Mexican, et cetera, we're going to lose this election because people like me, the reluctant Trump voters, refuse to be racist, because I'm not racist.
I'm not going to be called racist. That's my Catholic upbringing. And he had to change course, or he would've lost the election. At that point in the book, Victor, you adopt some sympathy towards him that I don't think he's owed. In other words, you were looking at it from his point of view. I just didn't see any sympathy there.
HANSON: Well, I said in the book it wasn't wise. And I said in the book that he had the weaker case, and he did. And I think the judge was right to rule as he eventually did in that. But I also said the two grounds on which he was attacked were fallacious. He said, “Mexican,” and people said, You don't use the word Mexican.
Well, I was called in high school a Swede. I'm part Irish. They called me Irish. I don't think Mexican-Americans have a special rubric where, all of a sudden, you say you can't say Mexican, in the way you can say Russian or German or black, with getting rid of the hype. And that was number one. That's what he said. Number two is he said he's part of a Mexican organization. That's like a Swedish organization, an Irish or—and he was. He was part of the La Raza guild, and that word—I think we've given a pass on that.
HEWITT: This is interesting. You and I have a deep disagreement on that, and I'll bet you it's because you're from Selma, and you're comfortable with it.
HANSON: Where did La Raza come from? La Raza came from Franco's Spain. And the idea was that the Spanish, Iberian Fascist movement was going to confuse, collude, or equate being Spanish and living—speaking Spanish on the Iberian Peninsula with a racial component in a way that Mussolini had created a razza movement—two Zs—in Italian. They were all emulating him. And that was all imported to the United States in a number of books in the 1960s.
And so, we've given a pass to “The Race,” and to have a judge say, I'm a member of “The Race Lawyers Association”—my mom was a superior court and appellate court judge in California. Had she been a member of “The Race Lawyers,” she would have been disbarred. And the reason I think I'm correct on that, the National Council of La Raza faced so much criticism about that that two years ago they changed their name to UnidosUS. So, I think they even realize that the word la raza is a polarizing racialist term whose origins can be traced to Fascism in Europe in the 1930s.
And, to have a federal judge be a member of the group that self-identified as “the race,” I think this—
HEWITT: I think you can critique the membership. I believe he actually ended up resigning from that. But, boy, did Trump step in it then, unnecessarily so, and he would've lost the reluctant Trump voters had he stayed there. Stay tuned, America. Victor Davis Hanson coming right back.
Welcome back, America. It's Hugh Hewitt with Victor Davis Hanson on the Hillsdale Dialogue. All things Hillsdale. I'm still on vacation and won't be back till Thursday, but I pre-taped this because the book dropped. Victor's brand-new book, The Case for Trump, is a must-read. And of course, it skyrocketed up because—it is—it's in bookstores everywhere. Get it from Amazon.
Victor, you talk a lot about the president's personal behavior and the term vulgar is used a lot. And that gets to why so many reluctant Trump voters like me are uncomfortable. I call myself a Victorian. What I really am is sort of an orthodox Catholic. And a lot of his behavior is not acceptable in my worldview. On the other hand, you point out that, if you want to rank presidents by depravity in terms of personal behavior, the most depraved is probably Jack Kennedy, who by, quote, “contemporary standards was a serial sexual harasser, if not a likely assaulter.”
Next would be Clinton, next would be LBJ, then would come Trump. I've actually ran through this exercise. R. N. and Truman both like to drink and swear. W. and H. W. are tied for being Yankees. And then Ike is the most rectitudinous, maybe Carter. Both are military men. Do you agree with my ranking?
HANSON: I do. But I would say that, if Trump wanted to cut down his taxes, and he said that his Art of the Deal profits were capital gains tax, and he paid them at 15% rather than 39% federal income tax, he would be impeached right now. And that's what Ike did. Remember that.
HEWITT: Oh, I forgot that. You're right.
HANSON: Yeah. So, I'm not justifying Trump. He wasn't my first choice in the primaries. But, that said, we're applying a standard to him that we would not apply to any other president. And Barack Obama got a sweetheart sale from Tony Rezko on a lot next to his home that he did not pay income taxes on the amount that was given to him on the sale. And he said, I screwed up, and that was it. There was no audit. There was nothing. And so, he also was fined, I think, over $300,000—his campaign—for improper contributions. There was no special counsel.
So, I think everybody has to take a deep breath and say, Donald Trump's behavior bothers us, but on the standard of what we've not been bothered with or perhaps didn't know because of the nature of the media in the past, it's not out of the ordinary. I'm always brought back to FDR's 1944 liaisons with Lucy Mercer, when his own daughter Anna set up trysts in the White House for Roosevelt to see his mistress. If Trump right now was seeing a mistress in the White House, and Ivanka was setting up the appointments, I don't know what would happen.
HEWITT: Or in this age of #MeToo, Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky. I mean, I always ask for just one standard. Let's just develop a standard then apply it to every situation.
HANSON: And that's what I tried to say in the book. I just want to know what the rules are—the standards are—and I'll follow them.
HEWITT: That's it. And now I want to talk a little bit about our own party—at least it's my party—I don't know if you identify as a Republican. You might be an Independent. I'm a Republican, but, boy, you have a completely accurate critique of what happened. I think, because W. was a war president, he could not take care of the political side and felt restrained in waging politics. But, boy, did Washington Republicanism ossify, and it became a party of tropes. And, moreover, it became a party closed to any idea that wasn't generated by the staffs of congressmen with power.
And, even when I tried to tell them, and I had Kevin Brady on the air and said, if you take away the income tax deduction for state taxes and home mortgage interest, you're going to get crushed in the blue states. And they got crushed in the blue states, because people got a tax raise in California and New York. They're completely indifferent, Victor, to what people who live in the rest of the country think. They're as much a part of the problem as the Progressive left in many ways.
HANSON: Funny you said that, because I talked to some congressmen and said, if you get rid of the deduction, you're not only going to get crushed, but you're going to lose a lot of Republican, Conservative people who, unfortunately, live in a state like California for years are going to have to go see their bank to borrow money to pay their income tax, because it's going to effectively double in California. And we're not responsible Conservatives for a 13.3% top rate and getting so little in return, but you're right. It was just, “That's your problem, not mine.”
HEWITT: And I made a moral argument. I'm curious, my moral argument is when people build their lives, they suffer reliance damages, and it's immoral to change the rules of the game after 25 years. Now, it's easy for me. I can move, because intellectual capital is mobile. But if you've built a business, like my friend Rhett Rasmussen, who runs Solara Grills, he can't move his production facility somewhere else after 30 years. He's screwed.
HANSON: Yeah, I'm sitting in a house with six generations living in, I'm not going to destroy it or leave. And I didn't get much warning, I only got one year. I mean, it wasn't like they said, We're going to phase this in over ten years so people could save the money. And you're getting hit with a huge tax increase, and yet I think that loss—David Valdejo, my congressman, his seat—I think it lost the Orange County seats—and it was suicidal in the same way W., whom I thought was—I liked a great deal—but I think his advisors said, You're unpopular with Iraq. Michael Moore, Cindy Sheehan are killing you. You can't reply to them; that would be un-presidential. They'll fade out.
If you have No Child Left Behind, Common Core, Medicare prescription drug, don't worry how to pay for them. Growth of federal bureaucracy. This will pacify or will calm down the left. And they looked at that—the left did—and said, I see weakness here. And therefore they were emboldened rather than repaid it with magnanimity.
HEWITT: There is no magnanimity on the left. That's the problem. And there is no magnanimity in Trump. There is, by contrast, though, geniality. And everyone will tell you, who goes to a meeting with him, he's one of the most charming people in the world in private. It's just this cobra-like quality that you talk about. I want to look forward to—you quote Joseph Epstein, which, of course, wins my heart, because he's—bring me the brain of Joseph Epstein and his writing ability, please.
On page 257—“I approve of almost everything he has done,” Epstein quotes his son as remarking, “and I disapprove of almost everything he has said.” In the final analysis, his ways are not your ways or my ways Victor, but when we're faced with the choice between him and Bernie Sanders, I know how I'm going to vote.
HANSON: Well, you said at the beginning of the interview, when you said the word binary—everybody thinks that we live in a Utopian world. We don't. We live in a Manichean world, where there is A and B, and 51%, for people live in the real world, is preferable to 49%. I think Trump gives you a lot greater edge than that, but we don't have a choice.
We have people who in the United States, a large number of them who feel that our future is progressively going—to going to be social, it's Socialism. And that's going to be larger federal government. And it's going to attack things like the First Amendment, the Second Amendment, the Fourth Amendment. And I don't want to live in a world like that. I don't want my children to live in a world like that.
HEWITT: Early in one of his interviews with me, I think I did 15 or 16, he said, I'm going to be a cheerleader for the United States—which, by the way, sounds a little corny, and a little seventh- and eighth-grader—but there are a whole bunch of Americans who did not want their president to do apology tours. But they wanted cheerleading, Victor, and you point out again and again this, “In conclusion, most Beltway insiders and New York grandees wrote off Trump's declinism as sophomoric. It was supposedly crafted and guided by a motley group of half-educated, would-be Nietzchian. And those autodidacts supposedly had planted a thin veneer of respectable thought on to what otherwise was a xenophobic, nativist, and racist red-state whine.”
You expose that as not true. But I guarantee you, 50%, at least of media grandees, still believe that.
HANSON: I think more than that do. But Trump's attitude is—I think, it's pretty practical. You don't have to be perfect to be good. And what's the alternative? And he's a practical business man, so he never really thought you had to be perfect to be successful. So, he looks at the world and says, Why does everybody come to the United States, and Americans are not flocking over to Europe, or they're not flocking to Mexico? Or he'll ask basic questions. Or, if the trade system is so good, would the Chinese like to switch places with us?
These very simple questions, nobody had really ever posed. They thought they were beneath them, but, when you start to pose them, you say, Wow, China has an asymmetrical trade relationship because it's in their interests. And then he sort of said, well, they're never going to be liberal like all these Republicans told us that we just take a hit from China and there's a few speed bumps like Tiananmen Square on the way to liberal democracy.
HEWITT: I'm guilty. I'm guilty.
HANSON: It's not going to be mercantile.
HEWITT: I didn't see Xi Jinping coming. I did not. I was totally—I bought into—
HANSON: I think it's a mercantile version of the 1930s Greater Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere that Japan was crafting, and then announced in 1940.
HEWITT: I have come to believe that, but I did not—for so long, the wish gives birth to the thinking. I wanted them to go the way of Japan. But they did not suffer the defeat that Japan suffered. And so, they are an emperor-driven society, are they not, Victor?
HANSON: No, I think they are. And I think that's why—and they assume that we're going to always defer to them and give them exemptions. Otherwise, why would the chauffeur of Dianne Feinstein think for 20 years, he could with exemption—and he got exemption—pass on secrets about Diane Feinstein, who was head of the Senate Judiciary Committee and Intelligence Committee in that period—pass on that stuff to Chinese operatives?
Or why is Silicon Valley basically the hub of Chinese espionage in the United States? And they would not allow that on our part, maybe we would try it, but we wouldn't get away with it. And their attitude is, “If we can get away with it”—and I'm quoting now—a Chinese consul told me this directly once, “If we can get away with it, it must be OK with you. Because we wouldn't let you do what we're doing, so either you're weak and stupid, and therefore we have no respect for you, or you feel that you owe us something and it's China's turn to take over the world. But either way, we're going to keep doing it till you stop us.” And that's pretty much what she told me.
And I was shocked when I heard it, but there was a certain—I don’t know—animal cunning and brutal, Neanderthal logic to it that nobody saw except Trump.
HANSON: And you know what—what's funny, Hugh, is go back to 2016 and '15—we thought Trump was a nut by fixating on China. Now, I pick up Foreign Affairs, I hear my colleagues at Hoover, I listen to Council on Foreign Relations, and you know what I'm finding? All people are saying we were at the point of no return. We've got to challenge China. We've got to renegotiate trade deals. We've got to talk about technological appropriation. Silicon Valley is being robbed blind.
These are left-wing people who are saying it—
HEWITT: He converted people, but they'll never—
HANSON: He did.
HEWITT: They'll never own where the conversion came from, it's too embarrassing. I'll come back, one more segment with Victor Davis Hanson. The brand-new book is The Case for Trump. You've got to read this, especially if you're on the left, especially if you are a reluctant Trump voter, because the same binary choice we faced in 2016 is coming back. We'll talk about that when we return, America. Don't go anywhere except to HughHewitt.com. At the very top of my website, you're going to see Haiti Humanitarian Crisis, Food for the Poor, Inc. Haiti Humanitarian Crisis—that's where you go to make a donation to assist people struggling in Haiti.
Remember, they had these enormous disturbances in Haiti at the beginning of February. So we moved up our annual campaign for the lost and the least in the country of Haiti. And Food for the Poor, it's just the very best organization operating abroad, and I say that to you every year. They do a lot of work for people in the United States, we do a lot of campaigns for the people in the United States. But the only group I support working abroad is Food for the Poor because of their record, because of their very low overhead, because of their dedication to the lost and the least. I know them, I talk with them every year.
And if you invest, for example, $320, you will feed a family, an entire family in Haiti, for an entire year, and provide water for their village because of the accompanying Well Project that goes along with that donation. So please, go over and look at Haiti Humanitarian Crisis at HughHewitt.com. Look at the material, and see if it doesn't move your heart. And contribute. Be as generous as you can.
Also, I want to remind you about ReliefFactor.com. It's that time of the day. I always remind you, I take it every single day. It is with me abroad, it goes with me everywhere. First thing that I pack is ReliefFactor.com. First thing that I take every single morning on the show when I'm in the studio is Relief Factor. And I do it because icariin, curcumin, omega, and resveratrol ought to be part of every single person's diet, but I don't like guesswork. I don't want to go out there and figure it out for myself. I like to be free of the minor aches and pains that this natural supplements address every single day. But I don't want to try and figure it out for myself. I let the scientists at ReliefFactor.com do it, and it works. It works, so join the tens of thousands of people out there who find relief from bad backs, from exercise, and aging, and all the assorted ailments that come with both of those things. Try ReliefFactor.com. I think I'll send some down to the Indians at spring training so that Francisco Lindor gets over his calf strain. ReliefFactor.com.
And I'll be right back with Victor Davis Hanson after this—don't go anywhere. His book, The Case for Trump, a must-read. And the conversation with Victor, as always, riveting. I'll be right back on The Hugh Hewitt Show.
Welcome back, America. It's Hugh Hewitt, The Hillsdale Dialogue. All things Hillsdale, at Hillsdale.edu. My guest is Victor Davis Hanson, author of the brand-new best seller, The Case for Trump. Victor, we only have six minutes, I want to finish with just a couple of thoughts.
One, I'm kind of depressed, because you realize that—I was at the Aspen Security Forum last summer, when Rod Rosenstein came in and was greeted like a conquering hero by the lefties assembled there. It was sort of a JCPOA wake. And I think of him as a fine public service, but if you line up Lepidus, Augustus, and Mark Antony, he's definitely the Lepidus of that bunch.
And then, I wonder whether or not virtue is ever going to return to America in the way that Alfred the Great in the Netflix series The Kingdom was a virtue-based ruler. Are we in a post-character world now?
HANSON: I think in some ways we are, but I think part of it is that we confuse means and ends. We're in a Progressive era, where people said that radical egalitarianism or qualitative result, or French revolutionary doctrine is so wonderful that it justifies any means necessary to achieve it. So we have Jim Rutenberg—The New York Times—in 2016, warning us that there is no longer journalistic jurisprudence. You don't really have to be disinterested, because Trump is so beyond the pale. And I think we've slid into this idea that we're not going to be empirical or disinterested or judge things on the facts because the ultimate goal of equality, not the outset, but at the end, as a result, justifies any means or any method that you need to get there.
And I see this happening, mostly, on the left. I think the right is basically “live and let live.” And it's not 100% totality of your person and your time to be political. But, with the left, throughout history, it always is.
HEWITT: Well, here's why I'm a little bit optimistic. I just want to know if you share this. There's a person that the president hasn't nicknamed, who has opposed him. That's the Chief Justice. He hasn't given him a nickname. And he's added Gorsuch and Kavanaugh to his number, and I actually am optimistic that if they get back to the Framing and to Classical Liberalism that we could have a renaissance in many different ways, and we could actually compete with China. If we don't get back to that, I don't know how we do. But, if we do get back to that, and it's really the courts and military spending, and that's why I think he's going to win re-election, Victor, because they're going to nominate a nutter.
HANSON: Yes. And what are they going to nominate, Hugh? They're going to nominate, basically, a candidate that's for partial-birth, or even infanticide, as we saw in the Virginia circus. And they're going to nominate a party that can't secure the border because they believe it shouldn't be secure.
HANSON: And they're going to nominate a party that wants free college tuition, even though a kid on a forklift at 18 who never went to college will be asked to pay for that—for a pajama boy profile, going until he's 30, taking units at a college. That's going to be free. And we're going to have Medicare for all, we'll violate the old bond, the old trust that started the idea that you contribute when you're young and then you enjoy the benefits when you're old, a pact between generations. They're going to destroy that.
They're going to have a wealth tax. They want to have a 70%, or even 90%, top rate. That's not a sustainable agenda. It's based on, we hate Trump so much that we can bring all this in, because you will vote against Trump, and then you'll give us a pass without looking at—
HEWITT: And they got a false positive. Did they not get a false positive in 2018?
HANSON: They did.
HEWITT: You and I have a theory of 2018, but they have a false positive. They think it's going to work.
HANSON: They did. And they don't realize that, in terms of traditional midterm elections during a president's first term, they did OK in the House, the average loss was 25 seats, they won perhaps 39. But, usually, you don't pick up two Senate seats like Trump did. Obama lost, I think, six, and Clinton lost eight in '94 in the Senate. Trump picked up two, maybe three. So it wasn't that bad. It was more or less typical of every president. But they have re-calibrated that as a referendum to go even harder left.
HEWITT: And, I would add—in the course of this, he's added Barr to his cabinet, Bolton to his NSA, Pompeo at State. You write about this. He's been upping his team as he moved along, which is very important for re-elect.
HANSON: He is. And he's got people—I was a big fan of Mattis and McMaster—I liked them both. But these new people are more ideologically attuned to the Trump agenda, and they're just as competent. And so you're right, he's professionalizing his cabinet. And they're not, quote, unquote, “the adults in the room” that have to watch over Trump. They really like Trump, and they respect him, and they understand what he wants. And then they implement it in a methodical and institutionalized way. So he's much better with this cabinet.
And that that's going to permeate. It's already permeating the State Department and National Security Council and Defense, where I think people understand that if you say, “Trump is a nut,” there's going to be consequences. There wasn't before.
HEWITT: And there isn't—and, boy, it's going to be a wild ride. And the best way to begin the ride is to know how it goes. And how it goes is laid out in The Case for Trump by Victor Davis Hanson, in bookstores everywhere. Just Amazon The Case for Trump. Google it, get it, give it to your friends, left, right, and center. And, to people who have not been in the fray, share it. Let them understand the two Americas. Let them understand the case against Hillary, which is laid out. Let them understand what happened. They'll know what's coming.
Thank you Victor. Thank you Adam. Thank you Ben. Thank you, Generalisimo. I'll be back next week sometime, America, on The Hugh Hewitt Show.