2017 and the End of Ethics
Will the Obama-era hypocrisy continue when the next president takes office?


Victor Davis Hanson

Will there be a scandal if the new political appointees at the IRS sic their auditors on What will the Washington Post say should the new president keep Guantanamo Bay open for five more years, quadruple the number of drone missions, or decide to double renditions? Will it say that he was shredding the Constitution, or that he found the



terror threat too great to honor past promises?

Will NPR run an exposé on our next president should she tap into Angela Merkel’s cell phone, or monitor the communications of Associated Press reporters — and their parents? Will investigative reporters go after the president should he falsely claim that an ambassador and three other U.S. personnel died in the Middle East during a video-sparked spontaneous riot? Or if he then jails the filmmaker for a year on a trumped-up parole-violation charge?

In other words, because for the past five years the members of the Washington press corps have abdicated their traditional adversarial role as watchdogs of the executive branch, can we still have watchdogs at all in 2017? If the next president falsely swears that his new health-care program will not affect citizens’ current coverage, what consequences could possibly follow? If the New York Times went after such perfidy in 2017, would the new president just say, “Where were you when Obama did it?”

If a conservative should be elected, and his Justice Department decided not to enforce federal gun laws in certain cities, would not the president say to his critics, “You were happy to ignore the flouting of federal immigration law in sanctuary cities, so why not exempt gun control too?”

#AD#Or if the new attorney general were Asian, and called his fellow Americans “cowards” over their inability to address past discrimination, or referred to Chinese- or Japanese-Americans as “my people,” how could African-American activists or any other group possibly object?

If, in 2017, we begin another five years of 7-plus percent unemployment, will the media call it a “jobless recovery” — as they have not since 2009, but most surely did in 2004 when George W. Bush ran for reelection with a jobless rate of a little over 5 percent?

What will court watchers do should the next president weigh in on pending trial cases — claiming, for example, that the son he never had would have resembled a murdered young man, or arguing that the police acted stupidly when they arrested a favorite of the president’s?

If our next president says there is a red line, ignores infractions of it, and then says he never said it, will the press go after her as it went after George W. Bush in 2003 when the promised stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction did not turn up in Iraq? If a debate moderator interrupts our next president’s reelection debate to incorrectly point out that his challenger is wrong about the facts, will we chastise her as unprofessional and ban her from further debates?

If a conservative president is elected, will the media object should he editorialize about personal success and wealth — suggesting that novice entrepreneurs should build their own businesses without federal help, reminding the struggling that they have not yet reached a point where they have made enough money, chiding some that we need to create wealth, not spread others’, or advising us that it is always the time to profit? Would the press object that the president’s serial and unsolicited sermonizing was proving a bit much? Or would he have to accuse doctors of lopping off limbs and ripping out tonsils for profit to win rebuke?


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