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Victor Davis Hanson on Current Affairs

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HUGH HEWITT: Morning glory, Americans. Hugh Hewitt. And it is the 15th Radio Hour of the week, which means it is time for The Hillsdale Dialogue, my weekly conversation with either Dr. Larry Arnn or one of his colleagues at Hillsdale College. A special visit today by Victor Davis Hanson. Professor Hanson, a Hoover Institution fellow, also a Visiting Scholar at Hillsdale. And it is a great pleasure to talk to him at length. Welcome back, Dr. Hanson. Great to have you, Victor.

VICTOR DAVIS HANSON: Thank you for having me, Hugh.

HUGH HEWITT: I want to begin with the president's two tweets this morning and then broaden it out. The president tweeted, "Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rosello just stated, quote, "The administration and the president, every time we've spoken, they've delivered." And number two, "The fact is that Puerto Rico has been destroyed by two hurricanes. Big decisions will have to be made as to the cost of its rebuilding."

Victor, it seems to me that the media is now disfigured by its Trump hatred. And every story has become a story about Trump in an effort to make him look bad. Am I crazy?

VICTOR DAVIS HANSON: No. You're not crazy. And they're not crazy, either. They have a strategy. And that is that they want to keep his favorabilities down to about 42%, even though he won with favorabilities like that. But they're not interested in the 2020 election. They're trying to create an atmosphere where they peel off four, five, six, seven Republican senators up for re-election. It's working.

So, if you create a climate that Donald Trump is beyond the pale, then people in these purple states or sort of squishy red states will say, you know, he may get re-elected again. But I'm not going to get re-elected given the things that bother people. So that's a pretty good strategy because they've stymied health care, and they may do the same thing to the tax package.

HUGH HEWITT: Now, Victor Hanson, social desirability bias is a term that was taught to me by a PhD in politics polling that suggests that people don't tell you what they really believe when they think there might be stigma attached to what they really believe. Therefore, the Trump 40% is a very solid 40%. Because they don't give a damn.

And then the reaction of the NFL players, which the bubble media-- Manhattan Beltway media elites-- wholly missed. They just did not notice it. Like the Chick-Fil-A story, I'm beginning to think they are so disconnected from real America-- by which I mean outside of Manhattan Beltway media elites-- that they don't know what the real appeal-- I don't know if the president's at 40, 50, or 55. I just don't know.

VICTOR DAVIS HANSON: Well, I think it's about 6% or 7%. I think he's right where he was when he won. In other words, he's got about 48% of the people who are going to vote are going to vote for him. And that's probably going to get him elected in the electoral college. So he hasn't slipped since he was elected.

But the left knows that. But they think he can't govern if they're able to convince people that he's much lower, or at least he's lower in their own particular states. But Trump has an uncanny cunning where he looks at particular issues-- and NFL is one-- in which he sees a scab, and he pulls it off. And the wound is kind of festering because, before this demonstration, there were a lot of issues in the NFL that were starting to bother people, from anti-trust to crony capitalism to subsidies of stadiums to brain injuries.

And what's happened now is all of that is going to come out. And people are starting to say, you know, there were things that were bothering me-- Lack of sportsmanship, criminality on the part of the athletes. And now I am looking at this whole thing. And I don't quite like it.

Trump has done that before. He's looked at an area that people were queasy about, and he's brought it to the fore. People have said he's crude and uncouth. But at the end of the day, the person that got in a tangle with him lost. And that can be anybody from Megyn Kelly to the NFL. So I think he's got a very uncanny ability to look at the social and cultural fabric and see things that bother Americans. And he becomes their voice of things that they feel but would never dare say.

HUGH HEWITT: And that is the lancing the boil approach that he takes. And on the NFL, I've been trying to tell people-- and my friends in the media just don't understand this-- they think I'm trying to change the subject, I'm not-- the value of a taxicab medallion in New York just a few years ago was $2.1 million. Today it's $100,000 because the customer was disintermediated from the cab by Uber and Lyft. I think the customer can be disintermediated from the NFL just as quickly. And it's not about Trump. It's about the customer.

VICTOR DAVIS HANSON: It's about, you never insult your customer. A politician never insults his base. They think the audience are coastal hipsters. They are not. They're red state, middle aged men and their families. And there are certain things that were bothering them that they said about the NFL.

And this is really going to lance that boil and bring it out. Because when you see the luxury boxes with all these guys up there that are mostly white, and then you see mostly multimillionaire black players, people say, wait a minute. If I'm at Berkeley or every other institution has to be diverse, and wow, if UC Berkeley ran its admissions on merit the way that the NFL runs its hiring on merit or the owners get to own on merit, then it would be 75% Asian American.

They can't quite see 75% of the league is multimillionaire African-Americans. And the people who own those teams are billionaire Americans exempt from antitrust subsidies. And they don't see where the suffering and the oppression is, given their own lives in places like southern Michigan or northern Ohio or rural Pennsylvania or the San Joaquin Valley.

So that's going to be a very hard sell for the NFL to start lecturing people who are much less well off, you better do this. When you throw into the mixture ESPN and these analysts who are really poorly educated, and they think they're Socrates every Sunday lecturing people on their social shortcomings, I think you're right. I think it's a formula for 10% or 20% permanent reduction in viewership.

HUGH HEWITT: And when that happens, the marginal fan is actually the profit. Everyone knows who's ever been in business-- and Victor, you have and I have in the broadcasting business and in various lines of the necessity of customers-- if you lose your marginal customer, you've lost your profit. And so it's a very tenuous icebreaking situation. I think every member of the NFL ownership is hoping that they all stand.

Now, Roger Goodell is a bobblehead commissioner. And I have never seen him string together five coherent sentences or a coherent set of policies. The person who ought to be running the league is your colleague at Stanford, Dr. Rice. She's got that the skill set, et cetera. I don't know what they do at this point. What would your advice be, Victor Davis Hanson?

VICTOR DAVIS HANSON: Well, I think they need to tell him we've paid you $200 million in the last 10 years, and we're happy that you doubled our revenues. But you're blowing it because you're insulting our fan base. So they need to get together and tell people on the team. Because you're not going to appeal to their patriotism. 

You're going to have to say to them, you're insulting the people who pay your salaries. If you continue to do this, you're all going to take a 10% or 20% or 30% pay cut. And we will, too. And it's going to have to be in those brutal economic terms. 

And I think that's what they're doing right now, Hugh, behind closed doors. They're not saying, here's the statistics on police brutality vis-a-vis the African American community because the data does not support. As you know, cops are killed eight times more likely by suspects who are African American than they shoot unarmed African American suspects.

And the data is not there. There is no Ferguson there for them. And so they're going to have to face it. And this is not about police brutality. It's about optics. And we are insulting our fan base. And it's going to destroy our profitability. Now it's up to you guys. And then let them make that decision.

HUGH HEWITT: Yeah. Because 62.9 million Americans voted for Donald Trump. And those are 62.9 million customers. And so I note that the Steelers, Broncos, and Packers-- well, the Packers did it last night-- Steelers and Broncos have also announced their plans to stand for the anthem this weekend. I just think the message got through.

And the media has wholly ignored it. They don't want to deal with it because it's contra-anti-Trump. Similarly, Victor, Tom Price is a friend of mine. And he may have overused planes. I don't know because I don't have a baseline. There's no data. There have been about 100 Cabinet members since 9/11.

There are three kinds of travel. Military, government chartered planes which are expensive, private planes which can lead to conflict of interest appearances. Until I see what all 100 Cabinet members since 9/11 have done vis-a-vis those three categories, I can't give context.

But everyone is condemning Price. They even tried to condemn Scott Pruitt. But his hot air makes clear today that was a dry hole. Ryan Zinke, I don't know. But it's just that there is no subtlety about what is going on here, which is an effort to diminish and de-legitimize everyone in the Trump administration.

VICTOR DAVIS HANSON: Yeah, you're right. I mean, Eric Holder took a private plane and flew to the Belmont Stakes with his children and a girlfriend to watch a horse race at government expense. At least these people are having the excuse that they're doing business. I don't think they should be using a private plane.

But whatever was happening in the past is ancient. We have amnesia. Trump is supposedly uniquely bad or uniquely vulgar or uniquely uncouth as far as the media comes. Because he's chemotherapy, and he's looking at the cancer, which is this culture. It's getting into a toxic phase. And people voted for chemotherapy. And chemotherapy is not pleasant, but it does the job. And that's what his supporters see. They'll stick with him.
And notice, he's very subtle. He uses the SOB word, which I didn't approve of. But it lanced the boil. And then immediately he started to get more reflective. And he started to elaborate in ways that were not without vulgarity. That's what he does. He fights the story, and then he elaborates on it. And people are behind him. 

HUGH HEWITT: I don't know. We'll come back after the break. I don't know if you've used the cultural chemotherapy analogy before. But it is provocative. We'll talk with Victor Davis Hanson about it after the break. Stay tuned to the Hillsdale Dialogue on The Hugh Hewitt Show.

Welcome back, America. It's Hugh Hewitt, joined by Victor Davis Hanson for The Hillsdale Dialogue this week. All things Hillsdale available at hillsdale.edu. All of my conversations with Dr. Larry Arnn, the President of Hillsdale College, or any of his colleagues at Hillsdale have been collected and podcastable at HughForHillsdale.com going back four plus years now of great conversation, beginning with Homer.

But with Victor Davis Hanson in the house, I wanted to stay focused on malignity in the media and what I think is distorting and disfiguring American media coverage, which is anti-Trump hatred. It's just actually hatred. Now Victor, Puerto Rico is a disaster. The immediate response, when it happened, to the fetching Mrs. Hewitt and I, was to contribute to Catholic Charities Puerto Rico. And I think most Americans did.

And then there were no pictures. There was no coverage because there was no power. Not even the iPhone was able to work because the cell towers were down. Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic actually posted the first devastating pictures that I saw that kind of communicated just how vast it was.

But the American military responded nicely. I mean, just rapidly. These big deck amphibs were there. Hospitals were there. And I think Trump was doing a good job, too. But the media is trying to turn this into Katrina when in fact it's got nothing to do with Trump's response but with the epic nature of the disaster. Am I wrong?

VICTOR DAVIS HANSON: No. You're right. And Puerto Rico was far poorer than southern Louisiana. Its infrastructure-- anybody who's been there has realized that the roads and the power grid were in critical condition before the storm hit. And the fact that it was on an island and it was isolated made it unique a difficult place to help. And the fact that the storm hit it head on. So there were all these things that collided into the perfect storm.

But in the media's way of thinking, they scan the horizon each morning. And sometimes it's Katrina. Sometimes it's the NFL. Sometimes it's North Korea. And sometimes it's Melania's shoes. And whatever the story is, they feel that that's a lever that they can pry open a hole or a seam and bring Trump down. And that's sort of what we're at.

And when Trump gets to about 50% in their polls-- I think he's there already-- but when he gets to about at that level, then it will calm down because they will think it's counterproductive. But right now, we're in a war.

HUGH HEWITT: It is a war. CNN Politics just tweeted two minutes ago, "Mayor of San Juan to President Trump, Thank you for calling San Juan. But there are 77 other towns waiting for help."

Yesterday in Cambridge, a school librarian took it upon herself to return 10 books to Melania Trump that had been sent to the school, saying, why don't you send them to a school that needs them? And she'd been, I think, subject to discipline because it was a politicization of literacy. Crazy.

So I think elites have just disengaged from America. I don't think this is good, by the way, Victor. It may be necessary, but it's not good.

VICTOR DAVIS HANSON: I think what's happened is that the message of the Progressive Party does not appeal to 51% of people. The issues don't. And Barack Obama solved that problem with executive orders. He couldn't get legislation through.

And now, I think because they've lost the governorship of the state legislature, the Senate, the House, the Supreme Court, and the presidency, you're seeing the foundations, the media, the universities, and most of our cultural institutions-- Hollywood, TV, the NFL-- have enormous cultural power. They've compensated or become, I think, extensions of the progressive movement. And are trying to say to America, we have enormous ability. We have enormous sway. And we can change--

And they do. Whether it's gay marriage or whether it's abortion or whether it's transgender aggression, they can take a minority position and so transform it. But if Barack Obama runs in 2008 on gay marriage. In 2012, he's against it. In 2012, he's for it. By 2016, his 2008 position would be homophobic. So they were very successful in changing the culture very quickly. And they know that. But that didn't resonate into actual political power.

HUGH HEWITT: But they're very successful only among elites. I look at the triumph of Roy Moore, who is not a Conservative. He's a nullification guy. He rejects the Supremacy Clause. But he wins, I think, because of the threat-- 30 seconds, Victor, we'll come back to this-- perceived in Alabama to religious liberty. I think that's why he won. What do you think?

VICTOR DAVIS HANSON: Yeah, I agree with that. But they do have power. I mean, they've taken the NFL, which was a conservative sort of macho institution. And now it is an affiliation of the progressive movement. It really is.

And that's insidious and successful.

HUGH HEWITT: More when we return to The Hillsdale Dialogue this week with Victor Davis Hanson. An extraordinary opportunity to review the first nine months of the Trump administration with the man. If you liked him back in the Bush years, you've got to still like him now, even if you don't like what he's saying about Trump or if you love what he's saying about Trump. Stay tuned.

Welcome back, America. It's Hugh Hewitt. The Hillsdale Dialogue always completes the week. The very first Hillsdale Dialogue was on January 2, 2013. So we are four and a half years into them. It began with Homer's Iliad. It is currently ongoing with Victor Davis Hanson as my guest today on behalf of Dr. Larry Arnn, who could not be joining us. It's great to have Professor Hanson with us. Fellow at Hoover Institution, Visiting Fellow at Hillsdale often.

We're talking about a number of different issues that are of current import, a lot of the great issues. But it does bring me back to the fact that one of your colleagues at Stanford for many years, Victor, is Secretary of Defense James Mattis.

And I am wondering how you think he is framing the Korean crisis in his mind. I think you know him well and have spent hours with him. How do you think he's understanding this Korean crisis?

VICTOR DAVIS HANSON: Well, I think he feels that, in the past, we may have lost deterrents. And that is, the assurance to any potential rival or enemy that it would be very stupid to preempt or provoke or to bomb the United States. That seems crazy. But I think we've lost it with the North Korean aggressiveness.

So what he's trying to do in a sober and judicious manner is visit our allies, get missile defense back on the front burner, play the good cop to Donald Trump's supposed bad cop, who is, I think, voicing some necessary tough talk in North Korea, along with HR McMaster. Get the allies on board, and then give China a list of options.

Maybe the carrot is, you do what you want with North Korea. We really don't care. It already is a dependency of China. We just don't want a nuclear regime in there. You can put any regime you want. We won't push for nuclear unification. But you handle that problem for us.

And if you don't, there is about a range of hundreds of options that we haven't even contemplated. We could bar Chinese nationals from coming into the United States, their children going to universities, their ability to buy property in California or on the West Coast.

We could create an Asian-wide really effective missile defense system that would not only deter North Korea but perhaps [INAUDIBLE] strike capability by China. And then, of course there's the nuclear specter that we could say to China, your client broke the rules and went nuclear. You would not like South Korea or Japan or Taiwan or Australia doing the same. But that might be their option if you won't stop them.

So anything that seemed absurd a year ago doesn't seem so absurd compared to the specter of a nuclear exchange. I think Mattis and McMaster and Tillerson are all giving these options to China, but giving them an out. And the out is, we're going to keep back while you handle the North Korean problem.

HUGH HEWITT: And so, in terms of how he processes information and manages it, given your relationship with him, he has not populated the Department of Defense with Republican operatives. That's for sure. And he is not particularly vocal on issues. He was asked about the NFL. He said, I'm the Secretary of Defense. My job is to defend America. End of press conference. What do you make of that approach?

VICTOR DAVIS HANSON: Well, I know him a little bit. And he was on my task force. And I have the highest regard for him. And I think that, while he may irk conservatives in times of peace, in times of world tension or war, you would not want anybody other than Jim Mattis as Secretary of Defense because he is apolitical.

And that bothers a lot of people because this was politics as an administration. But when we get into a tense situation, he's going to be cool. And he's going to be tough. And he's not going to send mixed signals.

And I think he understands that Trump has given him an historic latitude, he and McMaster. I don't think we've ever had a National Security Adviser or Secretary of Defense that have such confidence put in them by the president to establish national security policy. And I think they appreciate that.

And they understand they're going to keep out of poltiics if and when they might disagree with the president. But that he's going to appreciate the fact that they're going to bring a professionalism that is going to reflect well on him of a level that we haven't really seen in a long, long time.

HUGH HEWITT: I also do not know General Kelly at all. I've only met Secretary Mattis once. But I don't know General Kelly at all. But I've interviewed General McMaster.

General Kelly seemed to me to have brought great order and discipline to the White House. And when Secretary Price visited with him yesterday, you heard nothing from the White House about what was said there because it was professional. Probably woodshedding on the planes. But I don't know.

And I think that, if you combine the professionalism of Kelly, Mattis, McMaster on the national security side with the president's intuition regarding American political dynamics, that the Democrats might be very surprised come 2018. I'm just beginning to develop a theory that the chasm between elites and ordinary is so large-- or, as Michael Barone says, between the countryside and the Capitol-- is so large that they don't even know it's there. It's the old New Yorker cartoon cover.

VICTOR DAVIS HANSON: You're absolutely right. I couldn't agree more. And I think what Kelly does is, he channels and he navigates Trump's enthusiasms into a way that does not offend as many people. And that is very important to independents. But he's not trying to diminish it, or he does have respect that Trump has an innate ability to perceive the political landscape.

And he does. But sometimes he's too exuberant or he's too, in some cases, uncouth. And Kelly, I think he's very valuable without taking away the necessary enthusiasm.

So if you compare the White House now with, say, eight months ago, I think you're absolutely right. More professional organization. But part of it is we're getting more appointees finally approved. And the Trump team is enlarging.

But I don't see that there's going to be a democratic resurgence. When I look at Keith Ellison and Tom Perez and I look at things that are said on late night TV and CNN, I just think that that has the same effect on the electorate that the NFL taking a knee does on the NFL fan base.

HUGH HEWITT: Victor, I don't expect this to be a call and response. And feel free to tell me if you think I'm crazy. But I watched the media say this is a deal breaker with the right-- you know, Obamacare, repeal and replace-- this is the deal breaker here. The president screwed up here.

The real deal breaker with conservatism is the judiciary. Yesterday, the president nominated Justice Willet and Mr. Ho from Gibson, Dunn, and Crutcher down Texas way who represented Hobby Lobby for a long time. Two more great conservative appointments.

He nominated David Strauss, Minnesota Supreme Court Justice, grandson of two Holocaust survivors, being blue slipped by Al Franken. That's a separate deal. Neil Gorsuch is there giving a speech at the Federalist Society.

I think the deal breaker for the right are these judges because we understand Article III and its role in the country. And he's delivering. And I don't think he loses a vote from-- and I believe this issue resonates deeply again back to religious conservatives, faith-based people who fear for their right to believe as they believe and to practice their faith. He's got a lock on them as long as he keeps those nominees coming. What say you?

VICTOR DAVIS HANSON: No. I think you're right. And there's other things, too. I don't think that, if John McCain had been elected or Mitt Romney, they would have made the type of judicial appointments that Trump did. They would not have got out of the Paris Climate Accord. They may not even have allowed fracking and horizontal drilling on federal land. But he's doing things that resonate with the base. And the health care and tax are important. But we still have three years, and the dynamic of the Senate can change. And he can return to that.

But in the meantime, these appointments and these executive orders are ironically or paradoxically-- because that's not what the Never Trump establishment told us-- are actually more conservative and more doctrine-era conservative in a way that I think any of the last three Republican presidents or nominees would have done.

HUGH HEWITT: Now, you and I have many, many friends who are Never Trumpers. And they are often on the media and in print. And they are cabined, almost imprisoned, by their previous positions. What do you talk to them about? Do they even talk to you anymore? I still talk to them. But--

VICTOR DAVIS HANSON: Ah.

HUGH HEWITT: Go ahead.

VICTOR DAVIS HANSON: I try to because I don't have any personal animus toward them. But I think the animus is on their direction toward people like myself. And I think they feel a little bit orphaned because, when Trump does something, he does a lot that they would in theory agree with. Or really, it's their wireless hopes that become reified, because they agree with it.

They can't say that because to say that would repudiate their prior position. And yet, they understand that the left has used them or has looked toward them to provide genuine criticism on the right of Trump. So they're sort of orphaned.

And they say they're going to call balls and strikes. But to do that weakens their former position. So a lot of them get very, very angry. And they get angry about people who give Trump a fair shot or that support him.

And so, I don't know where it leads. But I can tell you that, after 30 years of sort of being in this business, I have kind of lost most of my friends. And I didn't do it on my part. Just when I see them, they're not very friendly or they don't like what I write. It's at Hoover, it's at National Review.

So I kind of feel that I'm out in the wilderness. But it's kind of a liberating feeling at the same time. But I have no animus toward them. I like them. But I just feel that they don't like me anymore.

HUGH HEWITT: I haven't experienced this yet because people like Jonah Goldberg and John Podhoretz and Bill Kristols remain my friends, even though they're Never Trumpers. And I haven't experienced it in booking or anything like that. I just haven't experienced it.

But I think it may be real. And I think the real problem, which is mainstream media, which is left-oriented incredibly, takes false positives from the Never Trumpers and interprets Never Trumpism as general, as opposed to specific, to the people making them. And therefore, misses the vast story.

And I think it leads us to a crisis in the media more than anything else. Not with the presidency or politics, but the credibility of the media is going to crater. It's going to absolutely crater.

VICTOR DAVIS HANSON: I don't think they realize that, if George Will-- whom I like and respect-- goes on MSNBC in the morning and says something, that's not going to reflect anymore what the majority of voters are thinking. And yet, they think that that's a window into the heart of conservatism. And unfortunately, it's not anymore.

And so I guess again, Trump pulled off a scab. And on this particular wound, there was a movement in the Republican Party that felt that the bi-coastal establishment had overlooked some of things that had happened during the globalization movements of the 1990s and the cultural landscape. And they felt forgotten.

And unfortunately, I think a lot of people in the Republican establishment, for a variety of reasons, were not be able to [INAUDIBLE] that anger. And they're trying to write it off as yahooism or white nationalism or American Firstism. And it's really not. It's sort of a class anger. But it's not racial. It's not ethnic.

It's just certain people did very well. And we didn't do very well. But you guys really didn't care about us and you don't want to be quoted about Milton Friedman, free market economics. We know it works. But in our particular cases, it seems like we always feel the consequences of other people's ideological zeal.

And I think we've missed that with the Republican Party. And I don't think the Republicans under another Romney candidate, whom I really liked-- I really thought he was a great candidate-- I don't think he was going to win. We can nominate another person like him, he's not going to win.

HUGH HEWITT: It's geographic. In Trumbull County, the county of my birth, it voted 59% for Al Gore, 60% for John Kerry, and 61% for Barack Obama twice. And it voted for Donald Trump at 55% plus. That's a geographic issue, not an ethnic or a class issue. 30 seconds to our break.

VICTOR DAVIS HANSON: I just don't think Jeb Bush would have achieved that. I don't think that Ted Cruz would have achieved that. A wonderful candidate whom I really liked, Scott Walker, would not have achieved that for a variety of reasons.

But then Trump was the first candidate that I've ever heard on the Republican side to use the first person plural possessive "our," our miners, our farmers, our workers, our vets, our soldiers. And that came from a millionaire Manhattan wheeler dealer. But yet, to a lot of people, that sounded authentic, that he actually cared about people. And he took positions--

HUGH HEWITT: Well said. I'll be right back to conclude this week's Hillsdale Dialogue with Victor Davis Hanson.

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Back to the Hillsdale Dialogue with Victor Davis Hanson representing Hillsdale today. So Victor, our friend Jonah Goldberg listens to the show. He's working on his G File this morning. I think maybe his ears perked up when we were talking about the split.

Here's how I see it happening. And I want to give you the floor. People who get out a lot are aware of the split, the divide, the chasm. And Washington Manhattan elites, including our friends on the right who get out a lot but don't get out of the green room or out of the reception for donors, don't hear it.

Now you and I have both lived in California for most of the last 27 years. I've been gone for a year back and forth between the coasts. And I go to Ohio frequently. And I think actually I'm better connected with what's going on out there than most reporters.

And I don't think media really cares to know because cable is doing great. It's a false positive. And cable is not America. I find myself watching less news. And my question to you is, are you tuning out the news?

VICTOR DAVIS HANSON: Yeah. I am. And I can see something going on when I had a guy installing a pump. I had a guy that was rebuilding the hydraulic ram during the election. And we were talking about politics. He was Mexican-American. He said to me, when have you lost your job? And I said, what do you mean?

And he'd lost-- we had a hydraulic lift company that went out of business. We had a couple of canneries that went out of business. And my hometown used to hire everybody out of high school. I think there was only four of us in our high school class that went to college. And they usually did much better than I was when I was in graduate school. They were still making more money.

And I said to him, well, when I wake up, a guy is not in Indonesia writing my column or somebody is not going to be teaching my classics course from Vietnam or something. So that never happens to me.

And I think that was the point he was making, that this stuff happens to all of us. And you guys say that you are conservatives like we are. But you live in a different social, economic, cultural landscape than we do. And your theories may be fine in the abstract.

But in the concrete, you don't really care about us. And you don't put your kids in our schools. You don't live among us. You don't talk with us. You talk for us and you talk about us. But we feel that you're as bifurcated as the cultural left is from us. And I think that was a problem that was festering. We saw it with the Tea Party.

HUGH HEWITT: It's a problem. On Monday, I had lunch with a new acquaintance, a retired Army Colonel, [? full bolt ?] Colonel. 30 years in the military, a Mustang. Four years as an enlisted man on the DMZ listening in on the Koreans after he'd gone to language school at Monterey. And he had led a striker battalion in Afghanistan and lost a lot of men. A lot of men seriously injured. And he also had led a tank battalion into Iraq in 1991. I mean, he's the real deal. He's 52 because he started young.

And he says to me-- and this shattered, actually, my understanding of the story. I will never watch the Minnesota Vikings again. I've been a lifelong fan. I grew up in North Dakota. And he said-- I'll paraphrase here-- they can take a knee, but my men can't because they've left their legs behind.

And I just, since then, I did not fully grasp it. So I began to pay attention and talk about it on the air. America still doesn't fully get it. I mean, American media doesn't get this NFL story, just like they didn't get Chick-Fil-A, Victor. And I don't know if they ever can. I don't know how they repair the breach.

VICTOR DAVIS HANSON: I don't think they can because they have developed an alternate lifestyle. And the stereotype is true. It's bi-coastal.

When I leave Selma in the San Joaquin Valley and I go to Palo Alto, I think I've gone from Venus to Mars. I mean, it's only three hours away. But everything about it, from the per capita income to the accent to the comportment of people, is just completely different. They feel that they're much more in common with Mumbai and Paris and London than they do with Fresno, which is much closer, of course.

So there's a divide here. And it's cultural. And I wish that the Republican establishment would react to it and start to be a little bit more empathetic. And it's the irony that somebody like Trump saw that in a way that more sophisticated political observers did not.

And I think it had something to do with building things and having that Queens accent and walking around Manhattan and talking to cement layers and bricklayers and welders in a way that other people may not have.

But there was something. There must have been something there other than just pure political opportunism that saw that had been missing in the Republican calculus. And those 16 other candidates were far more experienced politically. Tragically, none of them saw it. And he did. And when he started talking about Trump breaking that blue wall, they thought he was absurd. But he wasn't.

HUGH HEWITT: And if he gets better at politics, Victor, he'll get better faster. Right?

VICTOR DAVIS HANSON: Yeah. I think he--

HUGH HEWITT: Yeah.

VICTOR DAVIS HANSON: I already think so.

HUGH HEWITT: Victor Davis Hanson, great to have you on The Hillsdale Dialogue this week. We will post the audio of this thing. It's important for people to listen to. Always a pleasure. 

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