by Victor Davis Hanson
Over the last few months the four icons of the Democratic Party – Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and Nancy Pelosi – have hit the campaign trail.
They’ve weighed in on everything from “right-wing violence” and “election denialists” to the now tired “un-American” semi-fascist MAGA voter – and had nothing much to say about inflation, the border, crime, energy, or the Afghanistan debacle. In this, they remind us just how impoverished and calcified is this left-wing pantheon.
So why should we take anything they say seriously, given their own records – and especially given their mastery of projecting their own shortcomings upon others as some sort of private exculpation or preemptive political strategy?
Still Hopin’ and Changin’?
Barack Obama this past week has assumed the role of surrogate president. He is storming the country, while Joe Biden mopes at home or visits shrinking blue enclaves so he can claim post facto, “At least I was out there stumping.”
Over the last six years, we have become accustomed to Obama’s periodic getaways from one of his three estates. It is always the same. From time to time, he reenters politics to remind us that he did not just cash in on his presidency to become a multi-millionaire. Instead, he is still the Chicago “community activist” of his youth. And so, Obama will not be overshadowed by the Biden crew that is enacting all the crazy things he as president had warned were a bit much even for him.
At the funeral of the late John Lewis, Obama turned his eulogy into a political rant. He weighed in on the “racist” filibuster, the “Jim Crow relic” that he desperately sought in vain to use to stop the appointment of Justice Samuel Alito.
At campaign stops, he deplores “divisions” that he, more than any modern figure, helped create. The entire left-wing vocabulary of disparagement for the white lower-working classes (e.g., deplorables, dregs, chumps, irredeemables, etc.) got its start with Obama’s putdown of Pennsylvania voters who rejected him in the 2008 primaries as “clingers.”
In interviews, Obama suddenly now blasts harsh rhetoric – this from the wannabe tough guy who stole the “The Untouchables” line about bringing a knife to a gun fight. Well before crazy Maxine Waters’ calls to arms, Obama advised his supporters “get in their faces.”
Still, on the campaign trail, Obama appears not so much animated as stale. It is as if he has been suddenly stirred from a long coma that commenced in 2008. It’s the same old, same old – sleeves rolled up. He still resorts to the scripted outbursts of mock anger. And the nerdy prep school graduate still amateurishly modulates his patois – now policy wonk, now breaking into the Southern African-American pastor accent when an audience needs more preachy authenticity.
He still tries to rev up his crowds with the familiar attacks: Republican demons will cut Social Security, the MAGA semi-fascists are captives of Donald Trump (as if the Democrats have not ceded their souls to woke hysterics), the Republican fanatics will all but kill women by denying abortions, and extremists unlike himself are dividing the country.
On and on, Obama shouts about social justice. And then he wraps up and must decide to which of his mansions he will fly home (via private jet) – Kalorama, Martha’s Vineyard, Hyde Park, or soon the Waimanalo estate.
Obama offers no solutions much less hints at his own culpability in his sermons. There is nothing about the open border he helped birth. Nothing about Biden’s failed energy policies now bankrupting the middle class that were simply a reification of his energy secretary Steven Chu’s perverse wishes for European-priced gas (“Somehow we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe.”).
There is nothing about Obama’s old boasts about shutting down coal plants and skyrocketing electricity (“Under my plan . . . electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket.”).
Nothing is said about the Skip Gates psychodrama and his blanket stereotyped attack on police, the tossing of his own grandmother under the racial bus, the Trayvon Martin racial editorialization, the Ferguson mythologies, and all his efforts to create a binary nation of oppressors and oppressed, as Obama himself determined who is the victim, who the victimizer.
The Role Model Pelosi
After the terrible attack on her husband, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s colleagues are rightly calling for an end to extremist rhetoric. If we are to follow the Democratic clarion call, what might Pelosi herself do to help us to lower the temperature?
Here are a few modest suggestions.
Contrary to press reports, conservatives deplored the attack on Paul Pelosi. They want his attacker behind bars with no bail until his trial date. And if convicted they wish him to serve a long sentence before parole is even considered. Let us dish out a proper punishment to David DePape; one that can serve as a model to all such thugs who do his kind of devilish work daily against the innocent and weak – but unlike him, are usually exempt from punishment.
Recall that DePape should never have been in the United States. He is an illegal alien who violated his visa and should have had a warrant out for deportation, especially given his prior history of lawlessness. Would that the illegal alien who murdered innocent San Franciscan Kate Steinle had been subject to the likely punishment that now is awaiting DePape.
So yes, we all must lower the temperature. As speaker of the House, Pelosi can do her part in quieting passions, given half the country are her fellow Americans who do not live in the darkness of lies. She might ask Joe Biden to quit calling them semi-fascists and un-American.
Pelosi herself should never again tear up her copy of the state of the union address on national television. In that congressional forum she was attacking the presidency, not just Donald Trump. Half the voters feel as strongly about Joe Biden as she does about Donald Trump. If, as House speaker, Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) were to follow Pelosi’s precedent and rip up the next Biden State of the Union, would Pelosi find that continuation of her precedent conducive to healing the nation’s wounds?
Pelosi herself should not use any more violent imagery in expressing her anger at a president of the opposite party, much less threaten to use physical violence.
When she was asked to clarify what she meant in screaming about Trump (“I hope he comes. I want to punch him out. . . . I’ve been waiting for this . . . I’m going to punch him out, and I’m going to go to jail, and I’m going to be happy.”), she scoffed that she could not follow up on her threat only because Trump would never come to Congress to give her the opportunity.
Whatever one thinks of Trump, Pelosi only lowers the bar when she boasts about feloniously striking a president of the United States.
That Joe Biden had boasted twice about taking Trump behind the gym to beat him up, and others such as actor Robert DeNiro have echoed such threats (“I’d like to punch him in the face”) was no excuse for her reckless talk. After 2016 it was hard to calibrate all the ways the leftists had shouted ways of slaying Donald Trump – by stabbing, shooting, incineration, or decapitation.
Pelosi should never again delay legislation aimed at protecting Supreme Court justices from the sort of violence that occurred when Justice Brett Kavanaugh was run out of a restaurant, or anti-abortion protesters swarmed his home, or a would-be assassin showed up at his house.
Why was Pelosi so fearful about expediting such added security? Would prompt action have empowered the factual narrative that the chief threat to Supreme Court justices now arises from radical abortion protestors?
Pelosi might have reminded Democrats to tone down their rhetoric after the near-fatal shooting of Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.). After all, the shooter was a highly political, left-wing activist and former Bernie Sanders’ volunteer. But she did no such thing.
She could have privately reprimanded her own daughter that it was not a funny thing to cheer on the violent attack against Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who suffered broken ribs, a collapsed lung, pneumonia, and had to undergo pulmonary surgery.
When the younger Pelosi used her family name to gain traction by tweeting “Rand Paul’s neighbor was right,” (if she had used her married last name would anyone have read it?), it sent the message that there was a sort of happiness on the Left that a political opponent had been a target of violence. The Left is furious at Donald Trump, Jr. for crudely mocking the Pelosi assault, but he unfortunately followed a precedent long set by others.
Hillary Clinton is occasionally asked to weigh in on the midterm campaigns, but never in a swing state or hotly contested race. Her presence, like that of Joe Biden’s, would immediately lose the endorser a critical 1-2 points.
Clinton recently warned that the 2024 election likely will be illegitimate due to Republican instigated “voter fraud.”
Her outburst can be translated into something like, “The midterm left-wing wipeout may be just a preliminary to a 2024 Democratic disaster.” Hillary preempted Biden who, in his third and latest McCarthyite speech, warned that the “Mega Maga” people are planning devilry years in advance and so, like Hillary, he can now cast doubt on the legitimacy of future elections the Democrats will lose.
In truth, no one has done more in the last century to impugn the integrity of U.S. elections than Hillary Clinton. She has questioned the 2016, 2020, and 2024 elections, on the theory that any election Democrats might lose is an “attack on democracy.”
Her sins go way beyond feloniously destroying subpoenaed emails and devices or leveraging her New York senatorial run by Bill Clinton’s presidential pardons or using her office to enrich her family’s foundation as in the case of Uranium One.
When we return to sane times, historians will assess her 2016 efforts to destroy her opponent, his transition, and his presidency as the greatest election scandal in modern memory. She used three paywalls to hide her efforts to hire foreign national Christopher Steele (who was simultaneously working with the FBI).
On spec, she used her own contacts such as Charles Dolan to fabricate a phony hit dossier against her opponent and then to seed it within the media and the Obama bureaucracy to smear Trump.
Not content with that failed and likely illegal effort, she then declared the duly elected president illegitimate and the 2016 election all but stolen.
Her Hollywood friends cut videos begging electors to renounce their constitutional duties, ignore their state tallies, and vote instead for Hillary. Had they gotten their way, the entire federal election system as we know it would have been destroyed.
Then her surrogate, Green Party candidate Jill Stein, sued to overturn the election. Clinton bragged of joining #TheResistance in mock-heroic terms. As an arch-denialist, she urged Joe Biden under no circumstances to concede to Trump if he lost the 2020 vote.
And now she warns us of others who might emulate her own denialism?
What does Hillary fear in 2024? That a Trump or DeSantis will hire a Steele-like fraud to fabricate Democrat-Chinese collusion and smear a Democrat nominee? That the loser will not concede as she once urged, or the winner is illegitimate as she once insisted?
Good Old Joe Is Just Old Joe
Instead of a list of supposed communists, Joe Biden apparently has a roster of “election denialists” who he says are running for Senate and Congress and whom he fears will win next Tuesday. And he sets the example for others like House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) – himself a 2004-05 election denialist – who now smears his opponents as Nazis who, he fears, by democratically voting Democrats out of office nationwide will “destroy democracy.”
What will Biden not lie about? The death of his son, the circumstances in which his first wife died in a car wreck, the fantasy congressional vote on his student-loan forgiveness scheme? The number of states (Joe says, 54, Obama used to swear there are 57)? The very century we are now in? Where he went to college?
Joe, our own Walter Mitty, has variously been a semi-truck driver, an arrested South-African street protestor against apartheid, a surrogate Puerto-Rican child, a black college enrollee, a Ciceronian populist orator, a coal miner’s scion, an honors student, a blue-chip collegiate athlete, a defender against inner-city Corn Poppers, and absolutely ignorant about the Biden family syndicate.
Recall that a non compos mentis Biden was nominated solely as the thin veneer to a hard Left agenda whose avatars were unelectable. Biden was to feign being the colorless, stand-in “moderate” who would “unify” the fractured country, tone down the Trump rhetoric, and let the Trump record sort of proceed on autopilot.
Then when he played out that part and won, the leftist minders in this Faustian bargain took over to push through, on a one-vote senatorial margin, the most radical left-wing agenda in U.S. history.
Biden, however, took his role too seriously. He reverted to the mean-spirited, pre-senile blowhard Joe – the obnoxious messenger thus now making the noxious message even more toxic.
A retiring, silenced, good old Joe from Scranton was the script, not a doddering, incoherent, ”get off my lawn” old man shouting for the need of socialist policies that were the exact opposite of his previously supposed convictions.
The Left got their Biden. And yes, he turned over the reins of government to them. And yes, they got their neo-socialism for two years. And yes, they are destroying America as we knew it. But in doing this, the people had the rare occasion to see fully and experience the nihilist Left. And they are now about to express their loathing for what the Left has wrought.
The problem with the ossified Democratic Pantheon is that they are of no use to the Left in the midterms because it is their own radical ideology over the past two years that was finally enacted and wrecked the country. And all the shrieks about abortion, semi-fascists, and democracy dying cannot put back together what they shattered.
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Victor Davis Hanson is a distinguished fellow of the Center for American Greatness and the Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. He is an American military historian, columnist, a former classics professor, and scholar of ancient warfare. He has been a visiting professor at Hillsdale College since 2004.