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Victor Davis Hanson on President Trump And The Issues Set

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Professor Victor Davis Hanson joined me Friday morning for this week’s Hillsdale Dialogue.  Worth a listen, or a read:




HH: 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 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.

VDH: Thank you for having me, Hugh.

HH: 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, “the administration, 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?

VDH: 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 40-42%, 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 reelection, and that’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 reelected again, but I’m not going to get reelected, 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.

HH: 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.

VDH: Yeah.

HH: Therefore, the Trump 40% is a very solid 40%, because they don’t give a damn. And then the reaction to 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’re 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.

VDH: No, 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 it’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, the 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’s 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’m looking at this whole thing, and I don’t quite like it. Trump has done that before. He’s looked in the area that people were queasy about, and then 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 then he becomes their voice of things that they feel, but would never dare say.

HH: And that is the lancing the boil approach that he takes.

VDH: Yeah.

HH: 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 taxi cab medallion in New York just a few years ago was $2.1 million. Today, it’s $100,000 dollars, 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.

VDH: I do, too.

HH: And it’s not about Trump. It’s about the customer.

VDH: Well, you never insult your customer. A politician never insults his base. They think the audience are coastal hipsters. They’re not. They’re red state, middle aged men, and their families, and there are certain things that were bothering them, as I 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 a mostly multimillionaire black players, people say wait a minute. If I’m at Berkeley or every other institution has to be diverse, and who, you see 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-American, but the people who own those teams are billionaire Americans exempt from anti-trust with subsidies, and they don’t see where the suffering and the oppression is, given their own lives in places like Southern Michigan or Norther Ohio or rural Pennsylvania, the San Joaquin Valley. And 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. And 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, it’s just, I think you’re right. I think it’s a formula for a 10 or 20% permanent reduction in viewership.

HH: 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, ice-breaking situation. I think every member of the NFL ownership is hoping that they all stand. Now Roger Goodell is a bobble-head 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 the skill set, etc. I don’t know what they do at this point. What would your advice be, Victor Davis Hanson?

VDH: Well, I think they need to tell him we paid you $200 million dollars in the last ten years, and we are happy that you doubled our revenues. But you’re blowing it, because you’re insulting your, 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. 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-à-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’s not there. There’s no Ferguson there for them. And so they’re going to have to say to them 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. Do you want to support…

HH: Yeah, because 62.9 million Americans votes 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. I just, they just don’t want to deal with it, because it’s contra anti-Trump.

VDH: Yes.

HH: Similarly, Victor, Tom Price, who’s 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 a hundred 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-à-vis those three categories, I can’t give context. But everyone is condemning Price. They even tried to condemn Scott Pruitt, but as HotAir makes clear today, that was a dry hole. Ryan Zinke, I don’t know, but it just, there is no subtlety about what is going on here, which is an effort to diminish and delegitimize everyone in the Trump administration.

VDH: 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 an 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. You have amnesia. It’s Trump, it’s supposedly uniquely bad or uniquely vulgar, or uniquely uncouth as far as the media goes, 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 chemotheraphy’s not pleasant. But it does the job, and that’s what his supporters see. They, they’ll stick with him. And notice, he’s very subtle. He uses the SOB words 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 spikes the story, and then he elaborates on it, and people are behind him.

HH: 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.

— – — –

HH: But with Victor Davis Hanson in the house, I wanted to stay focused on malignancy 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. The 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?

VDH: No, you’re right. And Puerto Rico was far poorer than Southern Louisiana. Its infrastructure, anybody’s who’s been there realizes that the roads and the power grid were in critical condition before the storm hit. And the fact it was on an island, and it was isolated, made it a uniquely difficult place to help, and the fact that the storm hit it dead on. So there were all these things that collided, 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 the lever that they can pry open a hole, or a theme, 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 that level, then he, it’ll calm down, because they’ll think it’s counterproductive. But right now, we’re in a war, a real cultural war.

HH: It is a war. On 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 we don’t want them, why don’t you send them to a school that needs them. And she’s 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.

VDH: No, I think what’s happened, I think what’s happened is that the message of the progressive party does not appeal to 51% of the 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 governorships, the state legislatures, 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, NFL, have enormous cultural power, compensate. They’ve become, I think, extensions of the progressive movement. And they’re trying to say to American 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 to sow transgender aggressions. They can take a minority position, and so transform it that if Barack Obama runs in 2008 on gay marriage, and he’s against it, and 2012, he’s for it, by 2016, his 2008 position would be homophobic. So they’re very successful changing the culture very quickly, and they know that. But they don’t, that doesn’t resonate into actual political power. And that’s where we are.

HH: But they’re very successful only in 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.

VDH: Yeah.

HH: But he wins, I think, because the threat, 30 seconds, Victor, and we’ll come back to this, perceived in Alabama to religious liberty. I think that’s why he won. What do you think?

VDH: 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.

HH: More when we return to the Hillsdale Dialogue, this week with Victor Davis Hanson, extraordinary opportunity to review the first nine months of the Trump administration with a 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.

—- – – — –

HH: 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?

VDH: Well, I think he feels that in the past, we may have lost deterrence, and that is the assurance to any potential rival or enemy that it would be very stupid to preempt, or to 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 to North Korea, along with H.R. McMaster, to 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 tenant of China. We just don’t want a nuclear regime in there. You can put in any regime you want. We won’t push for unification. But you handle that problem for us. And if you don’t, here’s 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 the West Coast. We could create and Asian-wide, really effective missile defense system that would not only deter North Korea, but perhaps a first strike capability by China. And then of course, there’s the nuclear specter that we can 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. They’re giving them an out, and the out is we’re going to keep back while you handle the North Korean problem.

HH: 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, and 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?

VDH: Well, I know him a little bit. He was on my task force. I had to hire some guard for him, and I think that while he may irk conservatives in times of peace, in times of world tension and 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 is, politics is 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 advisor 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 politics 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’s going to reflect well on him, and that a level that we haven’t really seen in a long, long time.

HH: 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, and I’ve interviewed General McMaster. General Kelly seems to me to have brought great order and discipline to the White House, and that when Secretary Price visited with him yesterday, you heard nothing from the White House about what was said there, because it was professional, probably a woodshedding on the planes, but I don’t know. And I think that 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.

VDH: No, you’re absolutely right. I couldn’t agree more, and I think what Kelly does is he channels and he navigates Trump’s enthusiasm 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 so exuberant, or he’s too, in some cases, uncouth. And Kelly is, 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. It’s a 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 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’s, that has the same effect on the electorate that the NFL taking a knee does on the NFL fan base.

HH: Victor, I don’t expect this to be a call and response, and you feel free to tell me 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 a deal breaker here, the President screwed up here. The real deal breaker with conservatism is the judiciary. Yesterday, the President nominated Justice Willett 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’s nominated David Stras, 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?

VDH: 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 lands. So 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 in 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 what the Never Trump establishment told us, they’re actually more conservative and more doctrinaire conservative in a way that I think any of the last three Republican presidents or nominees would have done.

HH: Now you and I have many, many friends who are Never Trumpers.

VDH: Yes.

HH: 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 talk to them, but, go ahead.

VDH: I try to, because I don’t have any personal animus toward them. but I think the animus in 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 are really, it’s their wildest hopes that have 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 sort of genuine criticism on the right of Trump. And 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 kind of lost most of my friends. And I didn’t do it on my part. They just, when I see them, they’re not very friendly, or they don’t like what I write, or, and that’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.

HH: Now I…

VDH: I like them, but I just feel that they don’t like me anymore.

HH: I haven’t experienced this, yet, because people like Jonah Goldberg and John Podhoretz and Bill Kristol remain my friends, even though they’re Never Trumpers. And I haven’t experienced 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.

VDH: Yeah, 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 whether, I guess, again, Trump pulled off a scab, and in this particular wound, there was a movement in the Republican Party that felt that the bicoastal establishment had overlooked some of the things that have happened during the globalization movements in 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 able to get to that anger. And they’re trying to write it off as yahoosim or white nationalisim or American firstism. And it’s really not. It’s a class, 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 we don’t wanted 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 that we missed that in 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 could nominate another person like him, but he’s not going to win.

HH: You know, Victor, 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, 55% plus. That’s a geographic issue, not an ethnic or a class issue. 30 seconds to our break.

VDH: 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 when Trump was the first candidate that I’d ever heard on the Republican side to use the first person plural possessive, our, our miners, our farmers, our workers, our vets, our soldiers, that came from a millionaire Manhattan wheeler dealer. But yet, to a lot of the people, that sounded authentic, that he actually cared about people.

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

— – — – –

HH: So Victor, our friend, Jonah Goldberg, listens to this 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’s 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?

VDH: Yeah, I am, and I can see something going on when I had a guy installing a pump. I have a guy who was rebuilding a hydraulic ram during the election, and we were talking about politics. He was Mexican-American. And 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 of business, we had a couple families went out of business in my home town. We used to hire everybody out of high school. I think there was only four of us in our high school class who went to college, and they usually did much better than I was when I was in graduate school. They were still making more money, my friend. And I said to him, well, when I wake up, there’s not a guy that is not going to be in Indonesia writing my column, or somebody’s not going to be teaching my classics course from Vietnam or something, and so it 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 socio-economic cultural landscape than we do. And your theories may be fine in the abstract, but in the concrete world, you don’t really care about us, and you don’t put your kids in our schools, and 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. And we saw it with the Tea Party.

HH: It’s a problem. On Monday, I had lunch with a new acquaintance, a retired Army colonel, full bull 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 Monterrey, and he had led a striker battalion in Afghanistan, 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. 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 sensed then I did not fully grasp, 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 catch, I don’t know how they repair the breach.

VDH: I don’t think they can, because they’ve developed an alternate lifestyle. And it is, the stereotype is true. It’s a bicoastal…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…

HH: Yeah.

VDH: 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 the President, 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 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 brick layers and you know, 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 that had been missing in the Republican calculus. And those 16 other candidates were far more experienced politically, but 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.

HH: And if he gets better at politics, Victor, he’ll get better faster, right?

VDH: Yeah, he does. I think he, I always think so.

HH: Victor Davis Hanson, great to have you on the Hillsdale Dialogue this week. We will post the audio of this. I think it’s important for people to listen to, always a pleasure.

End of interview.


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