Trump ‘Pivot’ Managed to Distract Media from Pursuing its Hillary Clinton Witch Hunt

Victor Davis Hanson is a noted classical historian, a specialist on ancient warfare, the author of such books as The Western Way of War: Infantry Battle in Classical Greece (1989), which sit proudly on my own shelf not five feet from where I sit now, typing this.

He is also a noted conservative, who writes for the National Review Online. It is always dangerous to paint with too broad a brush. Hanson, for example, in the above-named book, argues that “we must not delude ourselves into thinking that an exchange of even tactical nuclear weapons is somehow justified…it is fearsome to think that Americans…could claim a heroic purpose in such a scenario.”

This is a far cry from Donald Trump’s position on proliferation of nuclear weapons, urging people who don’t have one now to get their’s quick.

You would think then the sensible position then would not be pro-Trump. Hanson doesn’t see it that way, focusing instead of “Hillary’s high crimes and misdemeanors,” seemingly based on Republican talking points that have become “fact” by virtue of being repeated so often. And this isn’t Hanson’s only unfortunate brush with fake facts.

In a post at National Review Online Thursday, “Trump 1.0, 2.0, 3.0 . . .” Davis discusses Trump’s immigration policy(s), arguing that,

There was always only one sensible position on immigration: ensuring that legal immigration was meritocratic, diverse, and measured to facilitate rapid assimilation and integration — while ending illegal immigration entirely through a mixture of new border fencing/stepped-up patrolling, increased visa and refugee scrutiny, employer fines, and rapid deportation of those who committed serious misdemeanors and felonies, had no work history, were always on government support, or who had arrived within the last one to two years on the scent of amnesty.

Davis argued that the figure so often used, 11 million, is “an ossified figure from the 1990s” but that if we’re going to use it, only some 2-4 million would fit into the group named above and therefore suffer deportation, and that even then, they should not be rounded up and herded onto cattle cars but “gradually and as individuals as they come in contact with local, state, and federal law-enforcement and bureaucratic agencies.”

This obviously wouldn’t sell with the white supremacists of the alt-right. Trump would never say it if he thought it. There is no drama in just letting the legal process do its thing. That’s the establishment way, after all. But let’s get back to Hanson’s take.

We can take issue with Hanson’s claim that “Trump’s original promise to “make Mexico pay for the wall” was neither crude nor surreal,” because really, it was both. Hanson argues that “given it is possible to place a federal tax (5–10 percent) on all remittances sent overseas by those who could not prove legal residence ($3–5 billion per annum in revenue?), combined with some sort of minimal effort to avoid bundling and the avoidance of the tax by using third parties,” the wall could be paid for by Mexicans, if not by Mexico.

And there is a bit of tit-for-tat in Hanson saying this. You hate to see a historian of all professions come a cropper on facts, especially so noted a historian as Hanson, but here he falls into a Republican talking point, arguing,

“Certainly, slapping a tax on remittances was logical and measured compared to the Mexican government’s policy of actively undermining U.S. law to the extent of the caricature of printing comic-book manuals of how to make it across the border illegally.”

The problem, of course, is that this is simply not true. PolitiFact looked at this claim back in 2010 when Lamar Smith (R-TX) said, Mexican government officials “hand out brochures showing individuals how they can avoid our Border Patrol, how they can get into our country.”

PolitiFact rated Smith’s comment “Mostly False,” because while such a document did exist, it was only apparently handed out from 2004 to 2006, and it stated right at the outset that “the safe way to enter another country is to do so legally, by acquiring a passport in Mexico and a visa from the destination country,” and that “There is no information on where to cross the border or how to avoid the Border Patrol or U.S. authorities when doing so,” let alone “contain information on how to avoid law enforcement while crossing over. In fact, it advises cooperation if apprehended.”

Hanson is no doubt on firmer ground when he claims,

Trump’s tremendous error was the same as the 2012 Republican primary bluster (ironic since Trump post facto castigated a defeated Mitt Romney on just this point), namely the impracticable effort to send 11 million en masse back to Mexico, regardless of their individual statuses. By overreaching in bombastic fashion in the primary, Trump won the issue but painted himself into a corner that his new team is now trying to airlift him out of — with the hope that the hypocrisy and deceit will die down before the election and Trump can win over 4–5 percent more of the Latino vote (and some turned-off independents and Republicans), which at a 26-30 percent rate in some states might make a difference — if he doesn’t lose that commensurate edge by alienating some of his base who would stay home in disgust that he proved to be just another politician.

Hanson argues that much as it amuses the Left, “In the end, I doubt his flipping will either help or hurt much. The real tragedy, as he sees it, is “another blown 48 hours,” time that could have been spent pushing all the Right’s numerous invented scandals about Hillary Clinton, like how she is supposedly “mortgaged to La Raza extremists.”

Sadly, facts taken a back door to ideology, and few facts survive that sort of contact, as Hanson has demonstrated here. Hanson sees this distraction as a bad thing, but really, Clinton has become the MSM’s unhealthy obsession, and they needed a break. So, apparently, does Hanson.