Professor Victor Davis Hanson joined me Friday morning for this week’s Hillsdale Dialogue. Worth a listen, or a read:
HH: It is the 15th radio hour of the week, which means it is time for the Hillsdale Dialogue, my weekly conversation with either Dr. Larry Arnn or one of his colleagues at Hillsdale College. A special visit today by Victor Davis Hanson. Professor Hanson, a Hoover Institution fellow, also visiting scholar at Hillsdale, and it is a great pleasure to talk to him at length. Welcome back, Dr. Hanson, great to have you, Victor.
VDH: Thank you for having me, Hugh.
HH: I want to begin with the President’s two tweets this morning and then broaden it out. The President tweeted, Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rosello just stated, “the administration, the President, every time we’ve spoken, they’ve delivered.” And number two, the fact is that Puerto Rico has been destroyed by two hurricanes. Big decisions will have to be made as to the cost of its rebuilding. Victor, it seems to me that the media is now disfigured by its Trump hatred, and every story has become a story about Trump in an effort to make him look bad. Am I crazy?
VDH: No, you’re not crazy, and they’re not crazy, either. They have a strategy, and that is that they want to keep his favorabilities down to about 40-42%, even though he won with favorabilities like that. But they’re not interested in the 2020 election. They’re trying to create an atmosphere where they peel off four, five, six, seven Republican senators up for reelection, and that’s working. So if you create a climate that Donald Trump is beyond the pale, then people in these purple states or sort of squishy red states will say you know, he may get reelected again, but I’m not going to get reelected, given the things that bother people. So that’s a pretty good strategy, because they’ve stymied health care, and they may do the same thing to the tax package.
HH: Now Victor Hanson, social desirability bias is a term that was taught to me by a PhD in politics, polling that suggests that people don’t tell you what they really believe when they think there might be stigma attached to what they really believe.
HH: Therefore, the Trump 40% is a very solid 40%, because they don’t give a damn. And then the reaction to the NFL players, which the bubble media, Manhattan-Beltway media elites, wholly missed, they just did not notice it like the Chick-Fil-A story, I’m beginning to think they’re so disconnected from real America, by which I mean outside of Manhattan-Beltway media elites, that they don’t know what the real appeal. I don’t know if the President’s at 40, 50 or 55. I just don’t know.
VDH: No, I think it’s about 6 or 7%. I think he’s right where he was when he won. In other words, he’s got about 48% of the people who are going to vote, are going to vote for him. And that’s probably going to get him elected in the Electoral College. So he hasn’t slipped since he was elected. But the left knows that, but they think he can’t govern if they’re able to convince people that it’s much lower, or at least he’s lower in their own particular states. But Trump has an uncanny cunning where he looks at particular issues, the NFL is one, in which he sees a scab, and he pulls it off. And the wound is kind of festering, because before this demonstration, there were a lot of issues in the NFL that were starting to bother people from anti-trust to crony capitalism to subsidies of stadiums to brain injuries. And what’s happened now is all of that’s going to come out, and people are starting to say you know, there were things that were bothering me – lack of sportsmanship, criminality on the part of the athletes, and now I’m looking at this whole thing, and I don’t quite like it. Trump has done that before. He’s looked in the area that people were queasy about, and then he’s brought it to the fore. People have said he’s crude and uncouth, but at the end of the day, the person that got in a tangle with him lost. And that can be anybody from Megyn Kelly to the NFL. So I think he’s got a very uncanny ability to look at the social and cultural fabric, and see things that bother Americans. And then he becomes their voice of things that they feel, but would never dare say.
HH: And that is the lancing the boil approach that he takes.
HH: And on the NFL, I’ve been trying to tell people, and my friends in the media just don’t understand this, they think I’m trying to change the subject. I’m not. The value of a taxi cab medallion in New York just a few years ago was $2.1 million. Today, it’s $100,000 dollars, because the customer was disintermediated from the cab by Uber and Lyft. I think the customer can be disintermediated from the NFL just as quickly.
VDH: I do, too.
HH: And it’s not about Trump. It’s about the customer.
VDH: Well, you never insult your customer. A politician never insults his base. They think the audience are coastal hipsters. They’re not. They’re red state, middle aged men, and their families, and there are certain things that were bothering them, as I said, about the NFL, and this is really going to lance that boil and bring it out, because when you see the luxury boxes with all these guys up there that are mostly white, and then you see a mostly multimillionaire black players, people say wait a minute. If I’m at Berkeley or every other institution has to be diverse, and who, you see Berkeley ran its admissions on merit the way that the NFL runs its hiring on merit, or the owners get to own on merit, then it would be 75% Asian-American. They can’t quite see 75% of the league is multimillionaire African-American, but the people who own those teams are billionaire Americans exempt from anti-trust with subsidies, and they don’t see where the suffering and the oppression is, given their own lives in places like Southern Michigan or Norther Ohio or rural Pennsylvania, the San Joaquin Valley. And so that’s going to be a very hard sell for the NFL to start lecturing people who are much less well off. You better do this. And when you throw into the mixture ESPN and these analysts who are really poorly educated, and they think they’re Socrates every Sunday lecturing people on their social shortcomings, it’s just, I think you’re right. I think it’s a formula for a 10 or 20% permanent reduction in viewership.
HH: And when that happens, the marginal fan is actually the profit. Everyone knows, who’s ever been in business, and Victor, you have and I have, in the broadcasting business, and in various lines of the necessity of customers, if you lose your marginal customer, you’ve lost your profit. And so it’s a very tenuous, ice-breaking situation. I think every member of the NFL ownership is hoping that they all stand. Now Roger Goodell is a bobble-head commissioner. And I have never seen him string together five coherent sentences, or a coherent set of policies. The person who ought to be running the league is your colleague at Stanford, Dr. Rice. She’s got the skill set, etc. I don’t know what they do at this point. What would your advice be, Victor Davis Hanson?
VDH: Well, I think they need to tell him we paid you $200 million dollars in the last ten years, and we are happy that you doubled our revenues. But you’re blowing it, because you’re insulting your, our fan base. So they need to get together and tell people on the team, because you’re not going to appeal to their patriotism. You’re going to have to say to them you’re insulting the people who pay your salaries. If you continue to do this, you’re all going to take a 10 or 20 or 30% pay cut. And we will, too, and it’s going to have to be in those brutal economic terms. I think that’s what they’re doing right now, Hugh, behind closed doors. They’re not saying here’s the statistics on police brutality vis-à-vis the African-American community, because the data does not support, as you know. Cops are killed eight times more likely by suspects who are African-American than they shoot unarmed African-American suspects. And the data’s not there. There’s no Ferguson there for them. And so they’re going to have to say to them this is not about police brutality. It’s about optics. And we are insulting our fan base, and it’s going to destroy our profitability. Now it’s up to you guys, and then let them make that decision. Do you want to support…
HH: Yeah, because 62.9 million Americans votes for Donald Trump. And those are 62.9 million customers. And so I note that the Steelers, Broncos and Packers, well, the Packers did it last night, Steelers and Broncos have also announced their plans to stand for the Anthem this weekend. I just think the message got through, and the media has wholly ignored it. I just, they just don’t want to deal with it, because it’s contra anti-Trump.
HH: Similarly, Victor, Tom Price, who’s a friend of mine, and he may have overused planes, I don’t know, because I don’t have a baseline. There’s no data. There have been about a hundred cabinet members since 9/11. There are three kinds of travel – military, government-chartered planes, which are expensive, private planes, which can lead to conflict of interest appearances. Until I see what all 100 cabinet members since 9/11 have done vis-à-vis those three categories, I can’t give context. But everyone is condemning Price. They even tried to condemn Scott Pruitt, but as HotAir makes clear today, that was a dry hole. Ryan Zinke, I don’t know, but it just, there is no subtlety about what is going on here, which is an effort to diminish and delegitimize everyone in the Trump administration.
VDH: Yeah, you’re right. I mean, Eric Holder took a private plane and flew to the Belmont Stakes with his children and a girlfriend to watch a horse race at government expense. At least these people are having an excuse that they’re doing business. I don’t think they should be using a private plane, but whatever was happening in the past is ancient. You have amnesia. It’s Trump, it’s supposedly uniquely bad or uniquely vulgar, or uniquely uncouth as far as the media goes, because he’s chemotherapy, and he’s looking at the cancer, which is this culture, it’s getting into a toxic phase. And people voted for chemotherapy. And chemotheraphy’s not pleasant. But it does the job, and that’s what his supporters see. They, they’ll stick with him. And notice, he’s very subtle. He uses the SOB words I didn’t approve of, but it lanced the boil, and then immediately, he started to get more reflective, and he started to elaborate in ways that were not, without vulgarity. That’s what he does. He spikes the story, and then he elaborates on it, and people are behind him.
We need to get back to some Common sense quit trying to ruin Trump and get america out of the UN Swamp