An Essential Work by Victor Davis Hanson

I rarely miss the opportunity to read anything written by Victor Davis Hanson. This man possesses more knowledge of politics and history in his fingernail shavings than I do in my entire 6-foot-two, 260-pound frame, and has a way of boiling down his points and arguments and background in a more concise package than even seems possible. For the sake of comparison, consider that I can hit a golf ball but could never attack Amen Corner like Tiger Woods — in that same way, I consider myself a decent writer, but Victor Davis Hanson is completely in a different league.

Even among his phenomenal commentaries, this particular one stood out. Over the weekend, I wrote him and asked for permission to reproduce it here at America’s Right in full; yesterday afternoon, I received word from his assistant–I need an assistant!–to go right ahead.

So, first, I’d like to offer my thanks to Mr. Hanson and his staff. Normally, I would provide an excerpt of a given piece here on these pages, followed by anything I’d like to say about what was written in the article in question. In this case, however, I asked for permission because (a) finding a single excerpt would be nearly impossible, and (b) I did not want to risk that any of the readers here refrained from following the link.

That being said, please read this, and please pass it along.

– Jeff

Just Make Stuff Up
President Obama’s war on the truth

By Victor Davis Hanson

In the first six months of the Obama administration, we have witnessed an assault on the truth of a magnitude not seen since the Nixon Watergate years. The prevarication is ironic given the Obama campaign’s accusations that the Bush years were not transparent and that Hillary Clinton, like her husband, was a chronic fabricator. Remember Obama’s own assertions that he was a “student of history” and that “words mean something. You can’t just make stuff up.”

Yet Obama’s war against veracity is multifaceted.

Trotskyization. Sometimes the past is simply airbrushed away. Barack Obama has a disturbing habit of contradicting his past declarations as if spoken words did not mean much at all. The problem is not just that once-memorable statements about everything from NAFTA to public campaign financing were contradicted by his subsequent actions. Rather, these pronouncements simply were ignored to the point of making it seem they were never really uttered at all.

What is stunning about Obama’s hostile demagoguery about Bush’s War on Terror is not that he has now contradicted himself on one or two particulars. Instead, he has reversed himself on every major issue — renditions, military tribunals, intercepts, wiretaps, Predator drone attacks, the release of interrogation photos, Iraq (and, I think, soon Guantanamo Bay) — and yet never acknowledged these reversals.

Are we supposed to think that Obama was never against these protocols at all? Or that he still remains opposed to them even as he keeps them in place? Meanwhile, his attorney general, Eric Holder, is as voluble on the excesses of the Bush War on Terror as he is silent about his own earlier declarations that detainees in this war were not entitled to the protections of the Geneva Convention.

Politicians often go back on earlier promises, and they often exaggerate (remember Obama’s “10,000” who died in a Kansas tornado [12 perished], or his belief that properly inflating tires saves as much energy as offshore drilling can produce?). But the extent of Obama’s distortions suggests that he has complete confidence that observers in the media do not care — or at least do not care enough to inform the public.

The “Big Lie.” Team Obama says that Judge Sotomayor misspoke when she asserted that Latinas were inherently better judges than white males. Yet the people around Obama knew before Sotomayor was nominated that she has reiterated such racialist sentiments repeatedly over many years.

Obama complained that his deficits were largely inherited — even though his newly projected annual deficit and aggregate increase in the national debt may well, if they are not circumvented, equal all the deficit spending compiled by all previous administrations combined.

The president lectures Congress on its financial excesses. He advocates “pay as you go” budgeting. But he remains silent about the unfunded liabilities involved in his own proposals for cap-and-trade, universal health care, and education reform, which will in aggregate require well over a trillion dollars in new spending on top of existing deficits — but without any “pay as you go” proposals to fund them.

By the same token, his promise that 95 percent of Americans will receive an Obama “tax cut” is impossible. Remember, almost 40 percent of households currently pay no income taxes at all — and the $1.7-trillion annual deficit will necessitate a broad array of taxes well beyond those assessed on incomes above $250,000.

Obama talks about cutting federal outlays by eliminating $17 billion in expenditures — one-half of one percent of a $3.4-trillion budget. Here the gap between rhetoric and reality is already so wide that it simply makes no difference whether one goes completely beyond the limits of belief. Why would a liberal “budget hawk” go through the trouble of trying to cut 10 or 20 percent of the budget when he might as well celebrate a 0.5 percent cut and receive the same amount of credit or disdain? If one is going to distort, one might as well distort whole-hog.

Outright historical dissimulation. On matters of history, we now know that much of what President Obama says is either not factual or at least misleading. He predictably errs on the side of political correctness. During the campaign, there was his inaccurate account of his great-uncle’s role in liberating Auschwitz. In Berlin, he asserted that the world — rather than the American and British air forces — came together to pull off the Berlin Airlift.

In the Cairo speech, nearly every historical allusion was nonfactual or inexact: the fraudulent claims that Muslims were responsible for European, Chinese, and Hindu discoveries; the notion that a Christian Córdoba was an example of Islamic tolerance during the Inquisition; the politically correct canard that the Renaissance and Enlightenment were fueled by Arab learning; the idea that abolition and civil rights in the United States were accomplished without violence — as if 600,000 did not die in the Civil War, or entire swaths of Detroit, Gary, Newark, and Los Angeles did not go up in flames in the 1960s.

Here we see the omnipotent influence of Obama’s multicultural creed: Western civilization is unexceptional in comparison with other cultures, and history must be the story of an ecumenical, global shared brotherhood.

The half-, and less-than-half, truth. At other times, Obama throws out historical references that are deliberately incomplete. To placate critical hosts, he evokes the American dropping of the bomb. But he is silent about the impossible choices for the Allies — after Japanese atrocities in Manchuria, Korea, the Philippines, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa — facing the necessity of stopping a Japanese imperial killing machine, determined to fight to the death.

He lectures about equivalent culpability between Muslims and Americans without mentioning American largess to Egypt, Jordan, and the Palestinians. He mostly ignores American military efforts to save Muslims in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Kosovo, Kuwait, and Somalia — and American criticism of Russia’s and China’s treatment of their own persecuted Muslim minorities.

When Obama contextualizes the United States’ treatment of Muslims, does he do so in comparison to the Chinese treatment of the Uighurs, the Russians in Chechnya and Afghanistan, or the European colonial experience in North Africa?

When he cites European colonialism’s pernicious role in the Middle East, does he mention nearly 400 years of Ottoman Muslim colonial rule in the Arab-speaking world? Or the Muslim world’s own role in sending several million sub-Saharan Africans to the Middle East as slaves? By no stretch of the imagination is purported Western bias against Islam commensurate with the Islamic threats that have been issued to Danish cartoonists, British novelists, the pope, or German opera producers.

Obama surely knows that a mosque is acceptable in America and Europe in a way that a church is not in most of the Gulf States, or that Muslims freely voice their beliefs in Rotterdam and Dearborn in a way Westerners dare not in Tehran, Damascus, or Riyadh.

Here we see the classic notion of the “noble lie,” or the assumption that facts are to be cited or ignored in accordance with the intended aim: Interfaith reconciliation means downplaying Muslim excesses, or treating Islamic felonies as equivalent with Western misdemeanors.

Why has President Obama developed a general disregard for the truth, in a manner far beyond typical politicians who run one way and govern another, or hide failures and broadcast successes?

First, he has confidence that the media will not be censorious and will simply accept his fiction as fact. A satirist, after all, could not make up anything to match the obsequious journalists who bow to their president, proclaim him a god, and receive sexual-like tingles up their appendages.

Second, Obama is a postmodernist. He believes that all truth is relative, and that assertions gain or lose credibility depending on the race, class, and gender of the speaker. In Obama’s case, his misleading narrative is intended for higher purposes. Thus it is truthful in a way that accurate facts offered by someone of a different, more privileged class and race might not be.

Third, Obama talks more than almost any prior president, weighing in on issues from Stephen Colbert’s haircut, to Sean Hannity’s hostility, to the need to wash our hands. In Obama’s way of thinking, his receptive youthful audiences are proof of his righteousness and wisdom — and empower him to pontificate on matters he knows nothing about.

Finally, our president is a product of a multicultural education: Facts either cannot be ascertained or do not matter, given that the overriding concern is to promote an equality of result among various contending groups. That is best done by inflating the aspirations of those without power, and deflating the “dominant narratives” of those with it.

The problem in the next four years will be not just that the president of the United States serially does not tell the truth. Instead, the real crisis in our brave new relativist world will be that those who demonstrate that he is untruthful will themselves be accused of lying.

The original article can be found at National Review by clicking HERE.

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Comments

  1. Anonymous says:

    Those who sow to the wind, as the American electorate did last November, will most assuredly reap the whirlwind. We have entered the age of totalitarianism in the U.S. and it will end as all such regimes end – in self destruction under the grinding weight of its own policies.

  2. goddessdivine says:

    Great piece. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Anonymous says:

    He is, and always will be, a narcissist/pathological liar.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Jeff,

    Good choice on postings. I think Mr. Hanson, as usual, nailed it. And the last statement "…those who demonstrate that he is untruthful will themselves be accused of lying." The liberally biased current events coordinators already perform this task. They marginalize anyone and anything that may remove the "shroud" from 'His Majesty'. If it weren't so serious it would be comical.

    As narcissistic as President Obama seems to be, he can't resist the temptation to be everything to everybody. Like Mr. Hanson eluded to the "talking" on every subject, which just demonstrates, President Obama must be the smartest President this Country has ever had, because he knows everything about every topic. I was always taught, "it's better to be thought a fool than open your mouth and remove all doubt". I guess our President didn't get the memo.

    Thanks Jeff…keep up the good work.

  5. Rix says:

    The piece, hands down, is written masterfully and to the point. I find myself particularly agreeing with the author regaring mainstream media's critique – or rather, a glaring absence thereof. My general take on the issue, however, differs – and would be significantly less politically correct, likely to the point of being banned from this discourse.

    first, let me delve into my experience with online strategy gaming, which was my favorite pastime about 10-15 years ago. It took me little time to notice that some players cheated a lot; I also couldn't help but notice that most cheaters were of Asian and Middle Eastern descend. Being young and hot-headed, I shared my disdain for people who'd cheat in a totally free strategy game with no tangible prizes on the game forum, using *extremely* impolite adjectives in conjunction with a few racial slurs. The game was not USA- or Europe-based so my angry diatribes didn't earn me a ban. Instead, I received a private in-game letter from one of the most prominent Asian gamers (and cheaters) that instantly opened my eyes and changed my perception of many racial and cultural issues. The letter brougth a fact to my attention that I, young and inexperienced as I was, failed to notice: DIFFERENT CULTURES HAVE DIFFERENT MORAL NORMS. European morale – and American, as its derivative – is based on the Bible that firmly declares murder, theft, deceit and treachery as sins. Chinese and Indian cultures, however, have no such reservation. A Chinese person that can win a competition by cheating but doesn't is not praised as "fair sport", as would be his British, German or American counterpart – he is branded as a moron and shunned by his peers. A veil of what we Judeo-Christians erroneously use to call "being civilized" is thin and superficial, while racial and cultural norms are backed by generations upon generations of upbringing.

    My point is, the conservatives fail because they keep repeating my 15 years old mistake: they deal honestly and play fairly with people who are culturally disinclined to reciprocate. Yes, some of them are capable of rising above their innate norms to those of the society they live in or deal with – but we must learn not to expect it for granted. There is little difference between an African shaman telling his tribe that tomorrow's hunt will be better if hunters give half to him "for the spirits", and a certain Chicago politician telling his flock exactly the same lie.

  6. Dale in Flyover Country says:

    This article is a coup-de-maitre and encapsulates exactly the conundrum that "Obama, Inc." presents to the nation and to the world. Hanson's rhetorical poser, "Why has President Obama developed a general disregard for the truth …" is noteworthy. I think Obama's presidency is a natural extension of his pre-presidential years, exhibiting a penchant for expediency in treating fact and truth as a malleable medium, artfully manipulated to achieve his gratification of the moment. Put more simply, he prevaricates in his presidency because he has made prevarication a natural part of his existence. His campaign was tantamount to a fraud, shrink-wrapped and bedecked with sequins and baubles, in the finest point-of-sale display modern advertising practice could produce. Why should his presidency elicit any surprises?

    And in Hanson's concluding, "… those who demonstrate that he is untruthful will themselves be accused of lying.", he captures the rest of the conundrum: Obama is a wild card in a rigged deck. Those of us who inhabit the rational universe, accustomed as we are to common sense rules and values of truth and falsity, cause-and-effect, and so forth, find ourselves gasping at the outrageous and brazen — practically Orwellian — monstrosities being offered for daily consumption. Obama's capacity for laying such goose eggs challenges the analytical agility of perceptive observers and completely overwhelms that of the gullible ones. America has been trapped into wrestling with a tar baby.

  7. Gail B says:

    I love "good writing." Victor David Hanson's piece was brilliant.

    And, Rix, your comment is excellent, and I understand your point. Thank you.

    Well, it should come as no surprise to all those who have listened to the O-man's words that he is not to be taken seriously–wait for next week's speech to see how he steps around his own land mines.

    A liar is a liar. Somebody call the fire department–I smell smoke!

  8. ITSY BITSY says:

    Where in the HECK did you get that second picture of him describing his manhood????

  9. Anonymous says:

    Unbelievable. Simply surreal.
    Something out of the Soviet Union era…

  10. Claudia says:

    Rix,
    VERY TRUE, and that is something that the general American public must learn about that "certain Chicago thug" politician. He doesn't think it is cheating or lying, he just thinks it is NORMAL behavior, because it is where he comes from (not America) and what he grew up with. And as you pointed out, it is NORMAL in a geat majority of the world, it is only us, the Western Judeao-Christian foundation nations who put basic clean morality above the "get it no matter how you get it mentality".

    By the way, thanks Jeff, for posting that article, I read it over the weekend and wanted to send it to you, but got sidetracked. He is a great – on point – writer.

  11. Anonymous says:

    I can personally say "amem" to Rix's comments about cultural norms. As I've mentioned before, I spent about ten years traveling the world in corporate procurement roles, and, in Asia in particular, it was always "Buyer Beware" and never believe what a vendor would tell you to make a sale. In many cases, it was difficult for the person(s) on the other side of the table to hide their distain for our business ethics.

    In fact, our solution was to create IPO's (International Procurement Offices) staffed by locals so that they could deal with the vendors on their own terms while adhering (at risk of immediate termination if they didn't) to our corporate values.

    However, it serves no purpose for us, the American Conservative, to attempt to become like the current administration in order to "beat them at their own game". We are called to a higher standard. It does behoove us, however, to forcefully present, at whatever sacrifice is required, the facts as they are so that, hopefully, there are enough rational, moral, voters left to overturn the trend to totalitarianism. The only other option is violent overthrow, and I, as well as most who visit this blog, can't go there. I know that we are at a disadvantage, but that's the way it's always been in the eternal battle between good and evil.

    Old Bob

  12. Anonymous says:

    I read this too and passed it along – it couldn't be stated more clear what storm of deceit we are experiencing – question is can we weather it and correct all the damage in its wake ????????

  13. Anonymous says:

    Excellent Article! I believe that he knows when he is lying but as Charles Krauthammer has said, he has a way of making you think he's on your side, agreeing with your position, while doing the opposite. The lying and deceit come natural to him because that is what he has been taught will get him what he wants. Again, Krauthammer observed that Obama has a ruthless quest for power. He doesn't see himself as President of the US but ruler of the world. He is not guided by a moral compass..he is a far-left secular progressive who is dedicated to revolution. Remember, he said he wants to REMAKE America NOT RESTORE it. He believes that he is ABOVE being moral and honest in order to accomplish his goal…I also believe that he is being manipulated by an individual or group and they are working in unison to destroy our way of life and set up their own utopia.

  14. Ian Thorpe says:

    Victor is an excellent writer but is prone to the same kind of misrepresentation he (correctly) accuses Obama of. I have often read Victor's articles and wondered if the only historic texts he refers to on British history are the films of Mel Gibson. The rallying call of the American revolution was not "Freedom or death" but "No taxation without representation."

    Braveheart is a hugely entertaining film but historically is dross. The Patriot is a lousy film and is also dross historically.

    Here he is guilty of a gross distortion:

    Obama surely knows that a mosque is acceptable in America and Europe in a way that a church is not in most of the Gulf States, or that Muslims freely voice their beliefs in Rotterdam and Dearborn in a way Westerners dare not in Tehran, Damascus, or Riyadh.

    A Church or Temple is just as acceptable in Arab countries, Syria, Iran and Egypt even have their own denominations, the Syriac, Armenian and Coptic Churches. Also represented throughout the Middle East are Roman Catholic, Orthodox and Anglican congregations in fact the Armenian, Coptic and Syriac along with the Orthodox, Roman Catholic and Ethiopian chrches are joint guardians of the Church Of The Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem and regularly get involved in punch ups over claims to be the "one true church"

    The Coptic Church of Egypt has approx 10 million members.

    C'mon guys, we have plenty to hit BO with, there's no need to resort to his tactics.

  15. Dale in Flyover Country says:

    Ian,

    Your comment "A Church or Temple is just as acceptable in Arab countries …" is partly true, but not completely. There are Christian churches in several of them — Coptic in Egypt and Church of the Holy Sepulcre in Jerusalem, just to name two. Ultra-intolerant Saudi Arabia, the one in which I have the most direct familiarity, stands in sharp contrast. In that land where mosques are as ubiquitous as convenience stores are in the U.S., Christian churches are flatly prohibited and Jews are not even allowed into the country. Here Hanson is right on the mark with his generalization.

  16. Jennifer says:

    On election day my liberal co-worker asked me what I thought would be the result of the election later that night. I simply told her "the US is about to get exactly what it deserves".

    Some of you may be thinking…"what the…". I love this country more than anything. I also think citizens have a responsibility to understand the people they are electing into office. Many citizens failed to consider the concerns of an Obama administration presented for debate during the last election. When the citizens of a nation refuse consider all the facts they will learn a great big lesson. Unfortunately, it comes at a great price to the rest of us. Let's just hope in four years they have learned their lesson.

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