Why Do They Hate Him So?
Democrats, NeverTrump Republicans, left-liberal celebrities, journalists, and academics all revile Donald Trump because he is trying and often succeeding to restore a conservative America at a time when his opponents thought that the mere idea was not just impossible but unhinged.
BY Victor Davis Hanson
October 20th, 2019
Joe Biden claims he wants to take Trump behind the gym and beat him up.
Senator Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) jokes that she would like to go into an elevator with him and see Trump never come out alive. Robert De Niro has exhausted the ways in which he dreams of punching Trump out and the intonations in which he yells to audiences, “F—k Trump!”
The humanists and social justice warriors of Hollywood, from Madonna to Johnny Depp, cannot agree whether their elected president should be beheaded, blown up, stabbed, shot, or incinerated.
All the Democratic would-be presidential nominees agree that Trump is the worst something-or-other in history—from human being to mere president.
Former subordinates like Anthony Scaramucci, Omarosa, and Michael Cohen insist that he is a racist, a sexist, a crook, a bully, or mentally deranged—and they all support their firsthand appraisals on the basis they eagerly worked for him and were unceremoniously fired by him.
The so-called deep state detests him. An anonymous op-ed writer in the September 5, 2018 New York Times bragged about the bureaucracy’s successful efforts to ignore Trump’s legal mandates—a sort of more methodical version of the comical Rosenstein-McCabe attempt to stage a palace coup and remove Trump, or the Democrats efforts to invoke the 25th Amendment and declare Trump crazy, bolstered by an array of Ivy League psychiatrists who had neither met nor examined him.
Decorated retired U.S. Navy Admiral William McRaven wrote another New York Times op-ed blasting Trump and fretting that it is time for a new person in the Oval Office—Republican, Democrat or independent—“the sooner, the better.”
One wonders what McRaven meant with the adverb “sooner,” given that an election is scheduled in about a year and even retired officers are subject to the code of military justice not to attack, despite perceived taunts, their current commander-in-chief, much less wink and nod about his apparent removal (in what way?) from office. Do we really want a county in which retired admirals and intelligence officials publicly damn the current commander in chief over policy differences and advocate his removal, “the sooner the better”?
The House Democrats simply want him impeached first, and later will fill in the blanks with the necessary high crimes and misdemeanors.
Most of the prominent New York-Washington, D.C. insider Republican pundits abhor him. The creed of a NeverTrumper is that it is well worth the effort to see the current Republican president removed, and his administration imploded—even if that means four or eight years of an Elizabeth Warren, a Bernie Sanders, or a Joe Biden agenda as voiced in the debates. That would likely mean Medicare for All, the Green New Deal, slavery reparations, permissible infanticide in the case of late-term abortions, a wealth tax, and a generally socialist platform, from renouncing student debts to veritable open borders.
Only amid the ashes of Trump’s destruction do sober and judicious conservative intellectuals, writers, pundits, think-tankers, and establishment Republican grandees believe they can step in to rebirth the Republican Phoenix, nurturing the rising new party with its once hallowed traditions as exemplified by George H.W. Bush, John McCain, and Mitt Romney.
The Conservative Record
But what drives this unprecedented furor, given the economy has reached near-record low peacetime unemployment at 3.5 percent, resulting in millions of inner-city youth and poor being sought after by labor-needy employers? What is so evil about attracting the lower-middle classes to the Republican Party, and shedding its stereotype as a party of the golf links and corporate retreats?
Workers’ pay has risen to a net per capita gain of $5,000 since Trump took office. The U.S. energy industry is booming as the world’s largest producer of gas and oil, a fact that has likely saved more lives by rendering the death trap of the oil-rich Middle East increasingly irrelevant to American strategic interests.
By 2020, Trump will have remade the federal judiciary—when at an earlier moment in 2016, it looked as if an Obama-Clinton 16-year regnum would soon ensure a half-century dominance of left-wing activist judges.
Trump entered office with North Korean nuclear rockets allegedly pointed at the West Coast, and with China heralded as the inevitable new global hegemon. A petulant NATO insidiously refused to meet its promised contributions. ISIS ran amuck.
The border was wide open, and that had resulted in 20 million illegal aliens residing in the United States with de facto exemption from most consequences of violating U.S. laws. Trump at the outset has at least sought to address all those problems that sandbagged the prior administration.
So Why the Hatred?
Again, why the unadulterated hatred? For the small number of NeverTrumpers, of course, Trump’s crudity in speech and crassness in manner nullify his accomplishments: the unattractive messenger has fouled an otherwise tolerable message.
While they recognize in the abstract that the randy JFK, the repugnant LBJ, and the horny Bill Clinton during their White House tenures were far grosser in conduct than has been Donald Trump, they either assume presidential ethics should have evolved or they were not always around to know of past bad behavior first hand, or believe Trump’s crude language is worse than prior presidents’ crude behavior in office.
Trump is systematically undoing what Barack Obama wrought, in the manner Obama sought to undo with his eight years the prior eight years of George W. Bush.
But the NeverTrumpers are and remain a tiny segment of the electorate who have had zero effect in swaying Republicans and only marginal influence in persuading swing voters, in their new roles as occasionally useful naïfs of the hard Left.
Far more importantly, why do the media, academia, the entertainment and professional sports industries, the progressive Left, the administrative state, and most Democratic officeholders despise him so?
His brashness bothers them of course. His quirky tweets and name-calling certainly. His loud rallies, his public put-downs, and his feuding are certainly not matched by those of past presidents.
A Toxic Agenda
But the real source of their antipathy is his agenda.
Had Donald Trump in his first month as president declared that he was a centrist Republican —as many suspicious Never Trumpers predicted that he would, true to past form—and promoted cap-and-trade and solar and wind federal subsidies, tabled pipeline construction and abated federal leasing for gas and oil production, stayed in the Iran nuclear deal and Paris Climate Accord, appointed judges in the tradition of John Paul Stevens and David Souter, praised the “responsible” Palestinian leaders, pursued “comprehensive immigration reform” as a euphemism for blanket amnesties, then Trump would be treated largely as a George H.W. Bush or George W. Bush: hated, of course, but not obsessively so.
More importantly, had Trump just collapsed or stagnated the economy, as predicted by the likes of Paul Krugman and Larry Summers, he would now be roundly denounced, but again not so vilified, given his political utility for the Left in 2020 as a perceived Herbert Hoover-esque scapegoat.
Had Trump kept within the media and cultural sidelines by giving interviews to “60 Minutes,” speaking at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, bringing in a few old Republican hands to run the staff or handle media relations like a David Gergen or Andrew Card, Trump would have been written off as a nice enough dunce.
But Trump did none of that. So, the hatred of the media, the Left, the swamp, and the celebrity industry is predicated more on the successful Trump agenda. He is systematically undoing what Barack Obama wrought, in the manner Obama sought to undo with his eight years the prior eight years of George W. Bush.
But whereas the Obama economy stagnated and his foreign policy was seen by adversaries and rivals as a rare occasion to recalibrate the world order at American’s expense, Trump mostly did not fail—at least not yet. We are currently in an economic boom while most of the world economy abroad is inert. Had the economy just crashed as predicted, the Trump agenda would have been discredited and he would be written off a pitiful fool rather than an existential monster.
Again, hatred arises at what Trump did even more than what he says or how he says it.
But there is a final asterisk.
What made Obama unpopular with the public—until his last year when he ceded the spotlight to Clinton and Trump and then was liked in absentia the more he was neither seen nor heard—was his wide social, cultural, economic, and political assault on conservatism.
Obama ridiculed the tea-party movement with the obscene “tea-bagger” put-down. He told Latinos to “punish their enemies,” by whom he meant Republicans. His attorney general, Eric Holder, referred to blacks as “my people.” The EPA began making rather than enforcing laws.
Obama sought to promote Iran as a foil to the Gulf monarchies and Israel, an effort that explains much of the otherwise inexplicable Iran deal and Iran’s current adventurism. Rappers visited the White House, some with long histories of obscenity and anti-police rhetoric.
From “Cash-for-Clunkers” to Benghazi, the left-wing effort was 360 degrees, all-encompassing. Conservatives feared Obama was not so much changing politics as “fundamentally transforming America” as he had promised. Obama supporters bragged of a much-hailed new demography that had created a vast new constituency of the lockstep non-white voters supposedly now united not by class, or politics or culture, but by the mere fact of their appearance.
Trump has pushed a far more ambitious agenda, and one that is as conservative as Obama’s was progressive. He apparently had every intention of using the pen-and-phone model bequeathed by Obama to do it any way possible.
But more importantly, Trump’s lidless eyes never sleep. He is a 24/7 force of nature. No controversy is too trivial, too silly, too irrelevant to escape his Twitter commentary. Or rather Trump believes he is an existential war with the media, celebrities, elites of all sorts and the general status quo, or what we might call the American progressive project and its elite coastal architects.
Trump senses that the more he offends them, and the more so they pronounce him a dunce, a nut, a boor, a criminal, an ogre, then all the more they reveal what many had suspected about them but had no hard evidence to substantiate those suspicions. Trump believes his checkered social life is now transparent and serves as a sort of armor when he jousts with the sober and judicious whose pretense of civility is ripped away leaving them hypocritical when they foam, swear, and damn the current president.
The hatred for Trump manifests itself in 90 percent negative coverage, according to reputable media watchdogs.
Trump’s war with the Colin Kaepernick take-a-knee fad and the NBA-China nexus reminds us that hypocritical multimillionaires who grow rich throwing, catching, and bouncing balls are not by that fact to be looked up to as either moral or wise, but mostly remain clueless and hypocritical.
The bipartisan Washington establishment?
If an outsider Manhattan wheeler-dealer without military or political experience can at last call an appeased China to account, can avoid a Libyan fiasco, can acknowledge that America is tired of a 18-year slog in Afghanistan when others would not, or believes ISIS thrived as a result of prior arcane restrictive U.S. rules of engagement—and he is proven largely right—then what does that say about the credentialed experts who dreamed up the bipartisan conventional wisdom that with a few more concessions China would eventually become Palo Alto or that Libya would bloom at the heart of the Arab Spring?
The Left detests Trump for a lot of reasons besides winning the 2016 election and aborting the progressive project. But mostly they hate his guts because he is trying and often succeeding to restore a conservative America at a time when his opponents thought that the mere idea was not just impossible but unhinged.
And that is absolutely unforgivable.