The Origins of Progressive Agony

Victor Davis Hanson:

“…A boastful lame-duck Obama was lecturing the nation on the eve of the anticipated Clinton landslide that there was zero chance of any party, much less any nation, warping the U.S. election. Pre-election, a smug Hillary Clinton pontificated that Trump had to grow up and accept the impending verdict of the voters that would shortly demolish his candidacy and humiliate his person. She would add insult to Trump’s injury by sweeping Georgia and Arizona and by a landslide that would reinvigorate the Obama dream.

Indeed, dozens of the careerists and progressive appointees at the Washington FBI, DOJ, CIA, and National Security Council took all sorts of risks to insure a Clinton blowout. They variously sought to warp the FISA court, subvert the Trump campaign, collude with Fusion GPS and its Russian sources, and weaponize the FBI to ensure the Clinton victory — on the premise that their unethical and often illegal behavior would soon be rewarded by the Clintons, who for decades had proven far less ethical than 2016’s miscreant minions.

Hillary’s defeat caused unimaginable shock. It almost immediately prompted a collective psychological meltdown. The tragedy was not just that an inept Clinton had squandered the gifts of a $1 billion war chest, the deep-state collusion of the Obama administration, and a completely captive and obsequious media. But she had lost to Trump, the reality-TV-show host, the controversial raconteur, the first serious presidential candidate with neither military nor political experience.

Worse still, Clinton had blown a huge lead by foolishly seeking an electoral mandate while Trump, the supposed dunce, outsmarted her analytics and young techies by battering down the blue wall and stealing her Democratic Midwest with a populist nationalist message, part JFK, part Ronald Reagan.

Nothing is more humiliating than to be already doling out White House patronage jobs on Election Day at noon, and by evening suffering a shipwrecked candidacy and the certainty of eight more years of progressive rule incinerated. No wonder progressives were recently reduced to frenzied maenads gnashing their teeth and breaking their fingernails on the closed doors of the Supreme Court…”


“…Progressive astrologists predicted a series of Obamas for the next half-century. But in truth, the country was never really progressive. Until Obama, no Democrat without a Southern accent had won the popular vote since John Kennedy in 1960. And by 2010, the pushback became a near rout, within a few years, leaving the Left with its last vestige of power: a divided Supreme Court, which since the Roosevelt era had always salvaged the progressive dreams that had been wrecked in the executive and legislative branches.

Trump, however, not only got elected but in matters of court appointments he also proved to be an originalist and constructionist in a way that recent Republican presidents had never quite envisioned. He outsourced his Supreme Court nominations to the no-nonsense Federalist Society and the Heritage Foundation. Progressives went regressive in their furor and demonized Trump’s picks to such a degree that there was little chance that a Georgetown cocktail circuit would ever manage to turn a Gorsuch or Kavanaugh into a Souter or Stevens.

Fear grew over a future that would be even worse than the bad present. Should Trump be reelected, he might have one or two more deleterious picks yet — and perhaps even female Supreme Court justices more conservative than their male counterparts (and whom it might prove difficult to smear with supposed questionable teenage behavior four decades prior).

Trump’s criteria for selections seemed to be youth, strict constructionism, and intellectual brilliance — along the lines of a cohort of young Scalias. In short, the Court could no longer save for progressives what the presidency and Congress had lost them — an unfortunate downturn brought about once again by none other than the odious Donald J. Trump…”