The Corner

Politics & Policy

Five Catastrophic Decisions

(Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

1) The Obama administration’s invitation to Vladimir Putin to come into Syria ostensibly to stop the use of weapons of mass destruction. The latter did not happen, but after an over 40-year Russian hiatus in the Middle East, Putin has recalibrated the region, and Russia will be far harder to expel than it was to invite in. John Kerry did not get rid of WMD; he ensured that he got more of it.

2) The Ben Rhodes/John Kerry/Barack Obama Iran Deal. It was a disaster precisely because a) it was unneeded, given the ongoing strangulation of the Iranian economy due to tardy but finally tough sanctions, and b) it was embedded within so many side deals and payoffs, mostly stealthy, that it became a caricature, from nocturnal hostage ransom payments that helped fuel terrorists to whole areas of the Iran nuclear project exempt from spot inspections.

3) The FBI and DOJ blanket exemptions given to Clinton skullduggery over the Obama administration. For eight years, one or both of the Clintons cashed in and felt that they could run the family foundation as a rogue entity, play wink and nod quid pro quo with the reset Russians on commercial deals like Uranium One, set up an illegal server, and, when caught, destroy communications and electronic devices, encourage subordinates to mislead investigators, compromise the attorney general, warp the DNC to massage a primary and town-hall debate process, hire opposition researchers to smear a political opponent, drawing on paid-for Russian sources, and collude with obsequious media to direct its furor elsewhere.

4) The panicked appointment of special counsel Robert Mueller. There was good evidence in Mueller’s past concerning the Bulger scandal and the anthrax scare that he was mostly incapable of self-reflection and prone to zealotry; and when the Comey gambit paid off and Mueller assembled his “dream team” of partisans, it was clear that mythical “collusion” was merely a useful key to open every imaginable door of inquiry to stymie a president — on the theory that threats of imprisonment and financial ruin are great ways to flip minor subordinates to say something, anything useful, and if one digs deeply enough, every American has something to hide. Mueller reversed his mandate: Assuming first that a citizen was guilty, his mission became finding any sort of crime to prove it.

5) Assassination chic. Once the Resistance encouraged as acceptable all types of pushback to Donald Trump, it became a nonstop race to the bottom to outdo one another in macabre crudity, as everyone from Kathy Griffin, Snoop Dog, and Madonna to a Shakespearean troupe, Johnny Depp, David Crosby, and Kamala Harris has gotten in on finding both overt and “cute” ways to suggest that the president might be decapitated, stabbed, shot, blown up, burned alive, or eliminated in an elevator. Is the new normal that it is okay for celebrities and politicians now to imagine out loud the death of the president, but that it was not acceptable in the past and easily will not be again in the future — and that the omnipresence of such assassination chic will have no effect on normalizing in the mind of a zealot such an actual scenario?

Victor Davis Hanson — NRO contributor Victor Davis Hanson is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and the author, most recently, of The Second World Wars: How the First Global Conflict Was Fought and Won.

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