July 11, 2017

VICTOR DAVIS HANSON: How Did Trump Earn an Unprecedented Progressive Backlash?

Celebrities, academics, and journalists have publicly threatened or imagined decapitating Donald Trump, blowing him up in the White House, shooting him, hanging him, clubbing him, and battering his face. They have compared him to Hitler, Mussolini, and Stalin. And some have variously accused him of incestuous relations with his daughter and committing sex acts with Vladimir Putin, while engaging in some sort urination-sex in a hotel in Moscow.

Yet all this and more is often alleged to be the singular dividend of Trump’s own crudity, as if his own punching back at critics created the proverbial progressive “climate of fear” or “climate of hate” that prompted such uncharacteristic venom.

In truth we are back to 2004-2008, when the Left did to George W. Bush what it is now doing to Donald Trump. . . .

Yet there is one difference. The Bush Administration, to paraphrase Michelle Obama, went high as progressives went low, and thus chose not to respond in kind. The result in part was that a battered Bush accordingly left office demonized, with a scant 34 percent approval rating.

The difference with Trump hatred is not some unique intensity or prior provocation, but rather Trump’s singular counter-punching. It may not be traditionally presidential, but the Trump mode is to nuke those who first attacked him, in an effort to create a sort of deterrence. CNN, to take one example, or Barack Obama to take another, at least knows that their smug, chic Trump putdowns will receive a reply in a manner that is neither smug nor chic. Trump in Samson fashion is quite willing to pull the temple down on top of himself, if it means his enemies perish first.

And since — as with Samson — the temple isn’t worth preserving, that’s a good move.

Plus: “Separate Trump the president from Trump the media ogre, and then most of his policies seem traditionally conservative, logical, popular, a return to normality, and a much needed corrective to the past eight years, which is the true lost era. What is weird is not Trump the ex-reality TV star and tabloid sensation, but his critics who cannot separate the man from message—much less concede that just possibly Trump might succeed because, not despite, who he is.”

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