After Nov. 3, the meaning of some words and concepts abruptly changed. Have you noticed how new realities have replaced old ones?
Media cross-examination of the president is now an out-of-date idea. The time for gotcha questions has come and gone. Why ask a president whether he is a traitor or a crook when you can focus on his favorite flavor of milkshake or compliment him on his socks?
The old pre-election truth was that new vaccines take years to develop. The new postelection truth is that it’s no big deal to bring out new vaccines in nine months.
Impeaching a first-term president after his first midterm election — on a strictly partisan vote, for political reasons other than the Constitution’s “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors” — is now a terrible idea.
Worse would be to appoint a special counsel to harass a president on unfounded charges of collusion with China. An even scarier notion would be a conservative dream team of partisan lawyers hounding President Joe Biden — using a 22-month, $40 million blank check.
It would be unprofessional for university psychologists and physicians from a distance to diagnose, in pop fashion, the mental faculties of a President Biden.
Certainly, there would never be talk about Department of Justice officials contemplating wearing a wire as part of an entrapment scheme to remove a President Biden through the 25th Amendment. That would almost constitute a coup attempt.
Almost as bad would be for the holdover FBI director to start “memorializing” his private conversations with Joe Biden on FBI devices. He might then leak such memos to the press — just in case he were to be fired for secretly investigating Biden for “Chinese collusion” and then lying about such a probe.
What happened to the Logan Act? Not long ago it was assumed to be a critically needed guardrail. Wouldn’t it now ensure that presidential transition team members were not calling foreign leaders while Donald Trump is still president? How has it suddenly become a defunct, ossified relic?
Leaking classified material would be about the worst thing government officials could do. Imagine if a Trump holdover, burrowed into the new Biden administration, released a transcript of Biden’s private conversations with the Mexican president or the Australian prime minister.
Such a breach of trust would be almost as bad as a turncoat anti-Biden mole seeking to resist presidential directives. Imagine if this anonymous staffer were given an op-ed in the New York Tines to claim that a cadre of old-time Democrats were shocked by Biden’s cognitive decline and resisting his directives.
Is extending security clearances to former high-level officials turned cable-TV pundits still a bad idea? Who would wish to see, for instance, former Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe issuing warnings each night on Fox News? With a wink-and-nod hat tip to his “confidential sources,” Ratcliffe could spin conspiracy theories that Biden is facing bombshell disclosures about his family misadventures with the Chinese.
Is it still important that we keep the tradition of retired high-ranking military officers — all subject to the requirements of the Uniform Code of Military Justice — not disparaging the president? Who would want former Pentagon officials, some of them serving on the boards of military contractors, warning us that Biden should be removed because of cognitive challenges? Certainly, generals and admirals should not compare a President Biden’s policies to those of Mussolini or the Nazis.
At least “dark money” no longer exists. The old idea of right-wing billionaires pouring money into candidates’ political campaigns was supposedly a dangerous practice. It would be far more civic-minded for left-wing billionaires to pour hundreds of millions of dollars into the coffers of nonpartisan state bureaucracies entrusted with guaranteeing the sanctity of national elections.
And apparently after, not before, an election is the proper time to announce critically important news.
Like the rollout of a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine?
Like a $900 billion stimulus package?
Like a revised upward Fannie Mae report on the economy?
Like the ties between a Democratic member of the House Intelligence Committee and a suspected Chinese spy?
Like a federal investigation of Joe Biden’s son and his possible profiteering with rich Chinese elites affiliated with China’s government?
To keep track of our brave new American world is easy.
Just consider everything said to be bad by the “Animal Farm” media before Nov. 3 as now good. And remember that everything said to be good two months ago is now actually bad.
Victor Davis Hanson is a classicist and historian at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and the author of “The Second World Wars: How the First Global Conflict Was Fought and Won,” from Basic Books. You can reach him by e-mailing [email protected].