Hanson stirs from his “old liberal” sleep and sees Obama as he is

N. writes:

Victor Hanson has been maundering around, wondering in The Corner how Obama can make such “mistakes.” Once you had pointed out that Hanson is just an older liberal, a New Deal / Great Society supporter who is uncomfortable with post-Jimmy Carter reality, it became a bit easier to read his text. He’s like some relatives I have, who wax lyrical about FDR and Truman, who say less about the Kennedy family, and who when pressed about Clinton resort to rants about how “mean” the Republicans are. But they are still quite uncomfortable with Obama. People who have discussed politics their entire adult lives suddenly just don’t have much to say anymore. That’s what Hanson reminds me of, an aging child of the New Deal. The Van Jones business seems to have opened his eyes a bit.


“We have elected the most left-wing president in our history, apparently to many an unappreciated fact given the Bush unpopularity, the wars, the so-so McCain candidacy, and the September 2008 meltdown, but one that now, through a variety of minor and major incidents (from the apologies abroad and the cap-and-trade zealotry to the Gates incident to Van Jones), is being revealed to the American people—and they are not comfortable with it. ”


“So we are in a race—will a majority of the American people wake up from their past anger at Bush and subsequent hypnotism by Obama before he pushes through and institutionalizes an agenda to the left of what we see in Europe?”

LA replies:

If you’re saying that up until this past week Hanson was wondering why Obama kept making “mistakes,” and that only now has he grasped the fact that Obama is a radical leftist and that he must be opposed at all costs, can you send some recent Hanson items that show him in his previous, clueless mode? The contrast between those column and this eyes-wide-open column would be very interesting.

It would also be interesting to see if Hanson makes any acknowledgement of the change in this thought, along these lines: “Up until this week I thought Obama was a moderate liberal who for some inexplicable reason kept saying and doing all these weird, radical-left things. But now I see that he is indeed a radical leftist.” It would lbe very much out of character for Hanson—as it would be for ANY neocon—to make such an acknowledgement. As I’ve pointed out before, these people never admit their past mistakes, never admit their changes of position, but act as though the new positon they just adopted is the one they’ve had all along.

N. writes:

Here is a posting from August discussing AG Holder. In it Hanson takes the position that Holder is out of line, that he’s in danger of being fired. He completely misses the obvious fact that Holder is doing what Obama wants him to do. IMO this approach has been typical of Hanson ever since January. “Oh, my, this guy is gonna get in trouble”, etc.

Now, here are postings from NRO’s “Corner” over the last week that show Hanson’s position shifting in my opinion. The Van Jones nomination seems to have shaken him out of his stupor; he realizes that the Obama White House had to intervene in order to get Jones into the building at all, due to his record (including felony). Note how Hanson suddenly seems to realize that Obama isn’t some sort of naif who has ill-vetted staff, but that he knows full well what he’s doing. Hope this is useful.

A Sept 5 entry, “I Could No More Disown Van Jones Than”.

An entry on “Ayersism” on September 7, in which he draws parallels between Michael Moore and Van Jones.

Also on Sept 7, an entry in which he reviews the Gates/Cambridge situation and laments:

“What we are seeing is a very unfortunate turn of events in which racism is now the guaranteed retreat position once many prominent African-American elites find themselves in controversy. The problem is that the rest of the population of all races and classes looks at this privileged cohort and does not really detect bias or ill-treatment in their past or present circumstances, but rather remarkable tolerance and race-blind attitudes, as exemplified by their career successes.”

LA replies:

Thanks for looking this up. I’ll read these postings.

September 11

LA writes:

I’ve now looked at the Hanson Corner entries you linked.

His entry on Holder, posted August 31, ends like this:

3) He already lost a great deal of public support with his silly collective slurring of Americans as “cowards,” who purportedly do not wish to talk of race ad nauseam in terms defined by Holder’s elite identity politics.

I think Holder is one or two outbursts or one more inept decision away from being Obamized under the bus.

That’s a pretty remarkable statement, a statement suggesting that he thinks Obama does not share Holder’s anti-white, anti-American views, whereas anyone with half a brain realizes that Obama does share them. So, as of 12 days ago, Hanson did not think that Obama was a radical leftist.

Yet in the September 5 entry, Hanson evidences a clear understanding that Obama believes in redistributing wealth from the haves to the have-nots. He says, “I do believe Valerie Jarrett that the administration had been looking at Van Jones for a long time, and liked what they saw.” Meaning that Obama and his chosen staff liked the radical leftist, anti-white, anti-American Jones. Meaning that Obama himself is radical leftist, anti-white, and anti-American. So why did Hanson, if he understood this on September 5, say six days earlier that he thought Obama would fire Holder for his anti-American, anti-white statements?

I think the answer is what I’ve said about Hanson all along. He’s not a conceptual thinker. He writes by adrenaline and emotion. His discussions of liberals invariably focus on their attitudes, feelings, and ego-centric impulses, not on their ideas and principles. As a result, he lacks any consistent view of liberalism as a belief system.

And his linked September 7 item on Ayersism and Van Jones is a good example of this approach:

What is strange about all this chic-radicalism is how would-be revolutionaries that wish to dismantle America as we know it and/or emulate failed systems abroad, always do so from comfort, security, affluence, and freedom of choice unique to America and Europe, suggesting that radical politics and those who agitate for them are sort of a fashion statement, aimed to resonate among particular elite leftist audiences and to bring dividends from them, but not to be taken too seriously as guides in their own lives. [Italics added.]

It’s entirely trivial and uninteresting whether a given radical is espousing his radicalism from a position of comfort or not; some do, some don’t. Hanson’s statement adds nothing to our understanding of these beliefs that undermine and threaten our country. And his statement gives conservatives no ability to combat those leftist beliefs, except to say, “This is just a leftist fashion statement that leftist adopts because it makes them feel good and gives them various social and material advantages.” Which is on the same order of analytical and political usefulness as Steve Sailer’s idea that liberals believe in liberalism because it raises and legitimizes their social status.

It’s the same in the September 7 entry on Gatesgate that you quote. Hanson catalogs prominent blacks blaming things on white racism, and he sees this as “unfortunate.” He doesn’t see this attitude as part of a consistent stand, resulting from, e.g., the realities of racial differences combined with the liberal belief in racial equality which can only explain the racial differences by blaming white racism.

He continues:

… and the country is already tired of the blame-gaming and whining, when officials like Rangel and Jones start to defame others for their own lack of ethics and judgment. This is all very unfortunate, but I predict it will only intensify given the example at the top, and sadly probably result in a polarization that we have not seen in generations.

His rueful feeling about racial relations going in a bad direction, in which black “blame-gaming and whining” will “result in a polarization that we have not seen in generations,” echoes his remark in March 2008 at the time of Wright affair. Hanson said then that Obama had “set back race relations by a generation.” I replied: “Yay!,” and presented a scenario of a far better America if race relations were set back by a generation.

To recap: On August 31, Hanson thought Obama did not share Holder’s anti-Americanism and would fire him over it. On September 5, Hanson showed an understanding that Obama is indeed in sympathy with radical leftist anti-Americanism, that this is what Obama himself believes. But on September 7 Hanson was back to lamenting that things were going in this direction, as though this were some unfortunate and unnecessary mistake, rather than expression of the actual leftist, anti-white beliefs of Obama and many other blacks.

He himself doesn’t know what he thinks about modern liberals, because he’s never reflected on modern liberalism. He’s so unfocussed intellectually that he changes his view from day to day without any awareness that he’s doing so. He believes in the older FDR type liberalism, and he keeps seeing modern liberalism as a mere distortion of the older liberalism or as an ego-drive or excuse making reflex rather than as a worldview shared by many people. His lack of thought make his endless gassing about liberals at best useless, at worst deeply harmful to his large “conservative” readership’ ability to understand liberalism and combat it.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at September 10, 2009 12:13 PM | Send

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