Some Questions about Victor Davis Hanson's Case for Trump

A week ago at National Review Online, Victor Davis Hanson made a case that conservatives should vote for Donald Trump. Hanson is clearly my better when it comes to scholarship, but I wasn’t convinced by his essay. Provoked by his article, I have some questions for anyone who wants to defend the case for Trump with Hanson’s essay.
Why does Hanson minimize Donald Trump’s statements on the Access Hollywood audio?
Instead of saying Trump described sexual assault, Hanson said Trump “crudely talked about women” and displayed “crude sexual braggadocio.” All words. Not nice words, but words. However, eleven women have now come forward to say Trump did to them exactly what he claimed he did. Trump denies any bad action but given the actions specifically described on the audio, I have to wonder why Hanson didn’t mention this.
Hanson marshals Bill Clinton’s moral failings to suggest Trump should not be disqualified due to his moral failings. If I disqualified Trump solely based on his moral flaws then this might have some weight. However, as crude as Trump is, I feel he is disqualified for additional reasons.
Why does Hanson fail to fully describe how Trump is expanding the GOP via friendly overtures to white supremacists?
Hanson says Trump should be poised for victory in part because he has:

…apparently brought back to the Republican cause millions of the old Reagan Democrats, various tea-partiers, and the working classes

Although these groups are a part of Trump’s fans, Hanson doesn’t include the white supremacists in Trump’s coalition.
When it was discovered that then presidential hopeful Rand Paul hired a member of the League of the South for his campaign, the scandal was clear and the staffer was fired. When lowly Michael Peroutka sought a county commissioner’s seat, he had to drop out the League of the South to save his campaign. Now, the Trump campaign can invite white nationalists to campaign events and the Republican National Convention with nary a scratch. Trump has made the alt-right mainstream and this doesn’t even merit a mention in Hanson’s case for Trump, save for one reference to Trump being “insensitive” to minorities.
Why does Hanson fail to account for William Buckley’s prior writing on Trump?
Hanson invokes Buckley but fails to address Buckley’s own words on Trump. Trump has not changed much since Buckley wrote a column on the subject. Furthermore, Buckley wrote about the voter’s “quiet veto”:

In other ages, one paid court to the king. Now we pay court to the people. In the final analysis, just as the king might look down with terminal disdain upon a courtier whose hypocrisy repelled him, so we have no substitute for relying on the voter to exercise a quiet veto when it becomes more necessary to discourage cynical demagogy, than to advance free health for the kids. That can come later, in another venue; the resistance to a corrupting demagogy should take first priority.

I intend to use my quiet veto in keeping with Buckley’s advice.
How can Hanson be sure that Trump will bring to power competent conservatives who will actually have influence?
Hanson seems to think we can divorce a vote for Trump from the hypothesized benefit a Trump administration will bring.

The issue, then, at this late date is not necessarily Trump per se, but the fact that he will bring into power far more conservatives than would Hillary Clinton. No one has made a successful argument to challenge that reality.

Let there be no mistake, Eric Metaxas aside, a vote for Trump is a vote for Trump. We are not talking about a meek person. Trump has shown very little willingness to be coached. He has routinely undercut his running mate on matters of policy. He is for an idea as long as he thought of it, because as he says, he has a “very good brain.”
While I must concede that Trump might appoint a few good people, I don’t believe this possibility offsets the harm to conservative principles already done and potential additional harm of a Trump administration to those principles and to the nation.
Why is Hanson willing to declare Trump and Clinton equally corrupt without seeing Trump’s tax returns?
Hanson correctly lists Hillary’s offenses and implies they are worse than Trump’s. However, Hanson doesn’t address the fact that Trump has not released his tax returns nor does he call for it. Say what you want about the Clintons, one can trace their money more easily than one can do the same with Trump’s. It is incredible that Trump will complete his campaign without the release of his returns. The fact is Hanson doesn’t know as much about Trump as he does Clinton and he is fine with that.
Why is Hanson willing to give Trump a pass on his private sector failings and his contradictory policy declarations?
Not only does Hanson have a different standard with regard to Trump’s tax returns, he also advocates giving him a pass on his behavior as a businessman. Hanson writes:

We worry about what Citizen Trump did in the past in the private sector and fret more over what he might do as commander-in-chief. But these legitimate anxieties remain in the subjunctive mood; they are not facts in the indicative gleaned from Clinton’s long public record. As voters, we can only compare the respective Clinton and Trump published agendas on illegal immigration, taxes, regulation, defense spending, the Affordable Care Act, abortion, and other social issues to conclude that Trump’s platform is the far more conservative — and a rebuke of the last eight years.

This is perhaps the most perplexing portion of this case. If we cannot use Trump’s past to guide us, then what can we use? The platform? Trump’s statements? If so, which statements? The one where he said we should criminalize a woman for an abortion or the one where he said we shouldn’t? Should we believe, against all common sense and that nation’s stated policy, that Mexico will pay for the wall? Should we believe Trump when he said a single payer plan is a good idea or when he declares Obamacare is a disaster?
Why does Hanson talk Trump foreign policy risk without mentioning Russia?
It certainly appears that Trump has a thing for Putin. He seems to think Russia is helping with ISIS. Trump’s attitude toward Russia is troubling and worth at least some mention from someone trying to make a case that Trump is less dangerous than Clinton. I would want to have this be front and center in any case for Trump.
In fact, there was a significant difference between Trump and Clinton on Russia during the last debate. To me, Clinton seems to have the better read of what Russia is up to and I don’t think the U.S. should trust Russia in Syria or the Ukraine.
By the time I get to this question, it seems to me that one must minimize a lot of very important values to get to the case for Trump.

The Trump Campaign Calls for Breaking up Media Organizations

Supporters of Donald Trump warn that Hillary Clinton will weaken the Second Amendment. Perhaps they should worry first about the First Amendment. Read this campaign press release from Trump senior economic advisor Peter Navarro.

– OCTOBER 23, 2016 –


“Over a hundred years ago, a pro-business Teddy Roosevelt busted up more than 40 oil, railroad, steel and other “trusts” that were wielding their rapacious monopoly power to gouge consumers and interfere with the efficient functioning of the American economy. Donald Trump will break up the new media conglomerate oligopolies that have gained enormous control over our information, intrude into our personal lives, and in this election, are attempting to unduly influence America’s political process.
“The very corporations that have gained from shipping America’s factories and jobs offshore are the very same media conglomerates now pushing Hillary Clinton’s agenda. She is the official candidate of the multinational ruling elite.
“NBC, and its Clinton megaphone MSNBC, were once owned by General Electric, a leader in offshoring factories to China. Now NBC has been bought by Comcast, which is specifically targeting the Chinese market – even as Comcast’s anchors and reporters at MSNBC engage in their Never Trump tactics.
“AT&T, the original and abusive “Ma Bell” telephone monopoly, is now trying to buy Time Warner and thus the wildly anti-Trump CNN. Donald Trump would never approve such a deal because it concentrates too much power in the hands of the too and powerful few.
“The New York Times strings are being pulled by Mexico’s Carlos Slim, a billionaire who benefits from NAFTA and supports Hillary Clinton’s open border policies. Amazon, which controls the Washington Post, profits from the flow of illegally subsidized foreign products through its distribution channels. Lower costs mean higher margins — no matter if bad trade deals lead to massive unemployment in America.
“This oligopolistic realignment of the American media along ideological and corporate lines is destroying an American democracy that depends on a free flow of information and freedom of thought. Donald Trump will drain the swamp of corruption and collusion, standing against this trend and standing for the American people.” – Peter Navarro, Senior Economic Advisor

Even though Navarro has a PhD from Harvard, this press release has the smell of globalist conspiracy to it.  It seems to me that a free flow of information already exists and with the advent of blogging and alternative news sources, the big news organizations have lots of competition.
Navarro’s claim that CNN is “wildly anti-Trump” is just stupid. CNN has consistently and infuriatingly featured Trump surrogates or partisans in their news reporting from day one.  More than once, I have switched the channel due to the blatant lies told by Trump spokespeople which go inadequately challenged.
Threatening to intervene in the nation’s free press is just one more illustration that Trump isn’t the friend of the Constitution his supporters claim him to be.

A Call to Scholars and Writers Against Trump

A little over three weeks ago, a group called Scholars and Writers for America made a statement in favor of the candidacy of Donald Trump. Currently 156 Trump supporters have signed.
More recently in response, 152 scholars and writers have joined a group called Scholars and Writers Against Trump.  Very simply, the group affirms the following:

Scholars and Writers Against Trump

We are writers, academics, critics, historians, and authors who have voted for Republican presidents and candidates.

Given our choices in the presidential election, we believe that Donald Trump is the candidate most dangerous to our nation’s founding ideals. He is a unique and dire threat to the political principles, liberties, and cultural values of justice, fairness, honesty, and decency we have long defended. We urge you to vote, as we will, for someone else.

I am a signer and encourage others to consider doing so.
On point, recently a group of originalist Constitutional scholars confronted the belief among some conservatives that Trump would be the better candidate to uphold the Constitution.

Eric Metaxas Complains about Clinton Misquotes, Refuses to Correct the Quote He Misattributed to Bonhoeffer

During the debate between Clinton and Trump last night, Eric Metaxas tweeted the following:

Hillary said in passing that “America is great because America is good.” Although the quote is commonly associated with Tocqueville, it can’t be found in his works.
During the debate, Clinton did not attribute the quote to Tocqueville. However, Metaxas himself attributed that quote to Tocqueville in an advance copy of his new book If You Can Keep It. The attribution of the quote was corrected before publication.
I understand the analogy he tweeted. However, it is noteworthy that Metaxas complained about Clinton’s use of the quotation because he has his own quote snafu to resolve. Metaxas has yet to provide a source (or acknowledge the quote isn’t Bonhoeffer’s) for the following quote:

Silence in the face of evil is itself evil. God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.

This quote is attributed to Bonhoeffer on the back flap of Metaxas’ biography of the German pastor. He also has referred to it in his speeches and tweets as well as his book on Miracles and a study edition of the Bonhoeffer bio. However, it cannot be found in Bonhoeffer’s works. I have contacted Metaxas and publisher Thomas Nelson but have yet to receive the courtesy of a reply.
Silence hands version
There is no disgrace in getting a quote wrong. Scholars do it frequently. The mark of a scholar is to correct the record quickly. To me, this seems especially important since Metaxas has lately taken to advancing Bonhoeffer in the cause of presidential politics. Despite our differences, I urge Metaxas to do the right thing and either provide his primary source for the quote or acknowledge the quote doesn’t come from Bonhoeffer.

Brief Note: Wallbuilders Still Refers to Dr. David Barton

Even though David Barton has gone quiet about his claim to have an earned doctorate, his Wallbuilders Facebook page still refers readers to his work under the byline Dr. David Barton.
Dr. David Barton WB
On the newly revamped Wallbuilders Live bio of Barton, reference to his BA at Oral Roberts University has been removed.
On September 7, Barton claimed in a video posted on his Facebook and You Tube accounts that he had an earned doctorate. However, the next day Barton removed the video and Facebook post without explanation. While Barton did not mention Life Christian University as the source of the degree on the original video, it appeared to be a LCU diploma. Later, LCU president Douglas Wingate confirmed that Barton’s doctorate came from LCU.
LCU awards what president Wingate calls earned degrees to famous Christians who never attend or graduate from the school.  Wingate examines their written works and other materials to award a doctorate based on life experience. Despite the face that awarding a degree solely based on life experience is one of the marks of a diploma mill, Wingate defiantly defends the practice.
Other LCU “distinguished degree holders” who did not attend or graduate from LCU include Joyce Meyer, Benny Hinn, and Kenneth Copeland. Meyer prominently touts her “earned PhD in theology” on her website.