Editor’s Note: This is the first of an exclusive three-part series featuring an interview on Liberty Nation Radio with the brilliant author and columnist Victor Davis Hanson, acclaimed for his insightful and provocative analysis of the COVID-19 pandemic.
When everything we hold dear and thought was virtually unassailable starts to crack under the pressure of an unprecedented crisis such as the one we’re in the middle of right now, we can do no better than turn to those who dispense unconventional wisdom through an exceptionally deep and broad understanding of history, politics, and human behavior. And high up on that list is one of America’s leading conservative minds, Victor Davis Hanson, prolific author and columnist, Renaissance man, and a farmer in the red part of California.
Now that the entire human race has been brought low by a virus from a bat, or, as Dr. Hanson has written, “a little horned-devil virus trying to do what those Russkies never could,” one would think our species would unite at some level. But that has hardly happened, in large part because of the unrelenting assault on President Trump by the elite media. And that is where our conversation begins.
Tim Donner: Has the media simply behaved like this whole thing is another in a long line of Trump scandals? And how different might this crisis be if the media simply played it straight and didn’t continue their 90%-plus negative coverage of this president?
Victor Davis Hanson: Well, it would be a lot different. But we’re getting closer and closer to the election, so this is Robert Mueller and impeachment on steroids. Because for the Democratic progressive agenda, time was running out. There was a booming economy. There was a new foreign policy that was working. China was an extremist in this trade war. It wasn’t doing well. And so I think once this thing came along … And I’m not, I shouldn’t say I think, I’m just quoting their own words. You remember Hillary Clinton in an interview with Joe Biden four days ago said, “As the old saying goes, you can’t let a crisis go to waste.” And that’s not an old saying. That was a new saying in 2008 by Rahm Emanuel, her former adviser, about the earlier financial meltdown. Remember Gavin Newsom, governor of California, said this was an opportunity to readdress capitalism and get a more progressive government.
So I think to a lot of people, especially as we saw in that Democratic primary, those agendas were not very popular: New Green Deal, wealth tax, abolish ICE, Medicare for everybody, illegal aliens, universal health care. But they’ve rebirthed almost like zombies. They’re back because they feel in the midst of the panic and hysteria, government, especially at the state level because it’s not controlled by the Republicans, can do things they otherwise would never dream of getting away with. And we’ve seen, in some sense, that the First, Second, and Fourth Amendments don’t really exist right now.
Tim: This crisis looks like a trial run for a Bernie Sanders presidency and the Green New Deal with 30 million unemployed and the economy tanking …
Dr. Hanson: Yeah, I think it does. I think everything from the trivial to the important has been weaponized. So every single statement or decision that Donald Trump makes is weaponized or politicized. And by that I mean it’s seen as useful for a larger project, and the project is to ram through a centralized government system that has never worked anywhere else, but has constantly been hoped for in the United States … and yet it never had popular support. But if people can be terrified that this virus is just something that we never saw in 2017, we never saw in 1968, we never saw in 1957, all of which were severe flus, was so far either the same or much more death and didn’t require this lockout. Then if they can convince people of that, we’ll stay locked down and we’ll go into a depression and we’re going to have the largest redistributionist agenda you’ve ever seen.
Tim: Let me ask you a simple question with a complicated answer. Have we as a nation, in the face of this crisis, overreacted, underreacted, or reacted about properly?
Dr. Hanson: I think we were doing pretty well until about two weeks ago. And by that I mean it was very hard to react properly when not only the Chinese government lied about the origins and nature of the transmissibility of the virus, but the World Health Organization was a megaphone for those lies. So we didn’t get accurate information. And then with the FDA and the test kits, and the NIH and the CDC, they all were confused and Trump followed the experts’ advice, which was wrong. And then finally we started doing things pretty well. We got the test kits going, we got these industries synchronized, we got private enterprise in on it. We got people working together. The lockdown was probably wise to so-called flatten the curve, the curve flattened. All of these facilities were underutilized.
But, right around now or a week ago, we started to discover that more people are going to die from missing diagnostic screenings and surgeries, anxieties, suicide, family and substance abuse than the virus itself, which is proving a lot more infectious and widespread, but a lot less lethal. And our reactions to it were predicated on a faulty scientific model. For the first time in an epidemic in recent memory, we took the denominator, that is the number of cases, with the full admissions. We didn’t know if it was correct. In fact, I would go further. We knew it was incorrect. It was much, much smaller, the number that we used in actual reality. And that gave us these horrific models of 2%, 3%, 4%, 4 in 100 were going to die, when the truth was that probably one or two at the most in a thousand were going to die. And at that point panic set in, and now I think we’re going to lose a lot of people because we’re headed for a depression.
NEXT: In Part 2, Victor Davis Hanson discusses the downdraft from what he calls “the little Napoleonic governors arising to enact decrees” during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Read more from Tim Donner.
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