Hating the presidents equivalent to finding him guilty of supposed high crimes & hearsays as valid as direct testimony
By Victor Davis Hanson
We are now in the midst of a systematic effort to impeach a president on the basis of a thought crime. Trumps purported quid pro quo sin was issuing a temporary hold on military assistance to Ukraine. That supposedly transcends legitimate worries about rampant corruption including the suspicious behavior of a corrupt Ukrainian oil company and the compromised relationship of former Vice President Joe Biden and his son around it.
The anti-Trump writ is that it is impeachable to even delay to the Ukrainians lethal military assistance while citing the need to investigate the corruption of Ukrainians including the career of Hunter Biden whose father the former vice president and point man" on Ukraine is now running for president.
Supposedly irrelevant to this inquiry is the prior policy of denying military aid to Ukraine intervening in Ukrainian politics to fire a prosecutor by threatening a cutoff of even nonmilitary aid and ignoring that the vice presidents son served as a lucrative functionary with a corrupt Ukrainian company while his father was adjudicating U.S. aid to Ukraine.
Neither the NeverTrump Right nor the Progressive Left has yet offered a coherent defense of their de facto three-year-long singular effort to delegitimize and ultimately remove Trump from office before the 2020 election.
So why this disconnect?
The reason is not Ukraine" the latest iteration in a long series of efforts but rather existential hatred.
Trump adds insult to injury in that he has used many of former President Barack Obamas own methods to enact what liberals and progressives regard as regressive policies especially free and unfettered use of executive orders and a similar masterful use of the bully pulpit.
The furor of the Left that fuels serial efforts to end the Trump presidency before the 2020 election is at times similar to Republicans NeverTrumpism at least in that they argue Trumps comportment and behavior should earn repulsion and justify his removal.
Both anti-Trump schools believe Trump is such a brazen affront to the office of the presidency that rare methods are justified to remove him including but not limited to:
- Efforts to warp the Electoral College
- Invoking the Emoluments Clause the Logan Act and the 25th Amendment
- Empower the Mueller investigation and
- Ultimately the effort to impeach Trump on grounds of quid pro quo" bribery" or obstruction" in reference to Ukraine
But the Lefts antipathy is different.
In addition to these aesthetic reasons it seeks Trumps removal because of not in spite of his administrations record and policies.
That is according to a variety of barometers the Left considers Trump to be the most conservative and thus the most threatening president since Ronald Reagan.
He has not just sought to undo Barack Obamas political legacy in many cases he has been successful on illegal immigration energy policy abortion taxes foreign policy and a host of cultural and social issues.
If an ex-reality TV star Trump lacks the teleprompted cadences of Obama his sharp repartee and rally rhetoric are as or often more effective.
Obama sometimes baited enemies like Fox News host Sean Hannity and had the government surveille Associated Press reporters; Trump matches such combativeness instead with ad hominem references to his media critics.
The Left also differs from the NeverTrump haters of the Right on the perceived dangers posed by Trumps unorthodox behavior. The Left fears and hates Trumps character and persona for a variety of reasons including the fact that his earthiness earns a large audience of middle Americans many of them formerly blue-collar Democratic voters in critical swing districts and states.
Unlike a Romney or McCain Trumps earthy populism and not quite orthodox Republicanism are aimed at working people in general and increasingly to minorities in particular.
In other words Trump is the first Republican in recent years who seeks not just to win an election from a Democratic rival but to weaken the political foundations of the current Democratic hold on power in general.
The Left also feels Trumps combativeness is holistic. His push-backs are not just issue-orientated. Instead he seeks to oppose the entire progressive project in a way not seen before ranging from weighing in on anything from Colin Kaepernick to railing against fake news" and replying to celebrity tweets.
The combative Trump instead adopted prior war room" protocols of liberal scrappers like Bill Clinton and Barack Obama and seems to prefer winning ugly rather than losing nobly this appeals to deplorable voters whom John McCain once called the crazies" and whom the establishment Republicans do not really want in their static party.
Trump is a sleepless anti-progressive in all cultural economic social and political spheres. He earns an ethereal hatred from progressives for not just being against but also eager to oppose fanatically almost every conceivable aspect of their world view.
- Do his business deals while in office reach the level of egregiousness of Lyndon Johnsons profiteering?
- Was Trump carrying on an affair with the help of his daughter as an intermediary in the fashion of Franklin Roosevelt?
- Is his use of profanity or crudity as bothersome as Harry Trumans?
- If the Internet social media and a 90 percent hostile press existed in those eras would the above had faced scrutiny analogous to that now shown Trump?
Or compare Trumps current three years with the tenure of his immediate predecessor Barack Obama.
- Has Trump conducted government surveillance on suspected leakers such as Associated Press journalist critics or a Fox reporter? Had he would he be impeached?
- Has he weaponized the IRS to use its vast power to deny nonprofit status to perceived hostile left-wing groups in the climate of an upcoming campaign?
- Are the current directors respectively of the Trump Administrations Office of National Intelligence CIA and FBI now peddling an opposition research dossier on Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) paid for with Trump campaign money and compiled by a hired British foreign national who in turn drew on bought Russian rumors and gossip?
I could go on. But the point is that no one yet has convincingly argued that Trumps behavior in office does not meet the standard of successful presidents such John F. Kennedy or Bill Clinton (neither of whom was removed from office).
The Foundations of Trump Hatred
In sum what explains the decision to end the Trump presidency in a way we have not removed prior presidents?
First the media is now not just 90 percent anti-Trump in its coverage but has but merged with the Democratic Party in its activism.
Most egregiously it reports anti-Trump rumor and gossip as fact explaining why so many reporters have been forced to apologize been fired been reassigned or disgraced for peddling false stories.
Second NeverTrumpers on the right are orphaned from 90 percent of the Republican Party who voted and will vote again for Trump.
They know they are often played as useful idiots by progressives who otherwise want nothing to do with them. They have crossed the proverbial Rubicon and must know that they have no constituency left and cannot go back. They are alienated from all their accustomed conservative loci of influence power and prestige.
Third the Left was intoxicated on Obamas two terms of progressive transformation.
Progressives really believed demography is destiny." Obama supposedly had created a new 51 percent constituency of lockstep gays blacks Latinos Asian women youth and immigrants who together outnumbered the embittered and vanishing clingers deplorables irredeemables and dregs.
Voting entirely on the basis of shared race or gender or orientation was considered the new pillar of identity politics.
Then Trump won.
Worse Trump did not prove to be a Manhattan liberal as the Never Trumpers warned he would. Instead Trump governed as a hardcore conservative.
Fourth and finally there is currently a full-fledged progressive assault on the Constitution.
This supersedes even efforts to curtail the 2nd Amendment and stifle protected free speech by slandering it as hate speech" and thus not protected by the 1st Amendment.
Almost all the Democratic candidates have called for jettisoning the Electoral College. Many of the Democratic candidates have endorsed the once infamous court-packing" schemes of FDR to stack the Supreme Court with liberal justices in a way impossible under the current century-and-a-half protocols of judicial appointments.
A Brave New World
In this wider context impeachment is rebooted as no longer a rare gambit but a sort of parliamentary vote of no confidence analogous to a European government.
When Democrats lose elections they can now immediately talk of impeachment first and find the supposed crimes later.
The common denominator in all this frenzy hatred? None of the haters cares that:
- Unemployment is at near Record Lows
- that Minority Employment is at All-Time Highs
- that the Stock Market is at Record Highs
- that Economic Growth is steady
- that inflation and interest rates are low or
- that there is a looming shared need to address entitlements and deficit sooner than later
None care that for three years there has been a nonstop effort from within and outside government to end the Trump presidency or at least to sabotage it along the lines of #TheResistance."
We are in new territory now. We are now living in a brave new American world never envisioned by the Founders.
- Hating a president is equivalent to finding him guilty of supposed high crimes.
- Impeachment is a casual affair.
- Hearsay is as valid as direct testimony.
Do we wish to criminalize politicking as a substitute for elections?
Victor Davis Hanson is currently the Martin & Illie Anderson Senior Fellow at Stanford Universitys Hoover Institution. Hanson was awarded the National Humanities Medal in 2007 by President George W. Bush.