Victor Davis Hanson: Proteus-in-Chief

Roundup: Historians' Take

[NRO contributor Victor Davis Hanson is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, the editor of Makers of Ancient Strategy: From the Persian Wars to the Fall of Rome, and the author of The Father of Us All: War and History, Ancient and Modern.]

Barack Obama 1.0 had a solid record of hard-left governance as an Illinois state representative and U.S. senator. He voted for partial-birth abortion, wanted all troops out of Iraq by March 2008, and proved himself the most partisan of the 100 members of the Senate, even to the left of the only Socialist senator, Bernie Sanders. He seemed unaware of or indifferent to the embarrassment of his long intimacy with the crackpot racist Rev. Jeremiah Wright and other Chicago radicals. Version 1.0 led to office, but not to the highest office.

Barack Obama 2.0 then ran a stealth campaign in 2008 — now moderate more than hard left and often at odds with his own record. At times he called for fiscal sobriety, a more balanced approach to energy production, intrusions into Pakistan if need be, and a beefed-up presence in Afghanistan. In surreal moments, Obama almost seemed more centrist than Hillary Clinton and George W. Bush. Thanks to brilliantly voiced hope-and-change banalities, a lackluster McCain opposition, subservient media, the September 2008 financial meltdown, collective anger at President Bush, and the novelty of the first serious African-American candidate, the American people did what they hadn’t done in a half-century: They elected a liberal Democrat who didn’t have a southern accent. Version 2.0 achieved its purpose of election to the presidency.

Barack Obama 3.0 then reverted to his leftist roots. We saw appointments like Van Jones and Anita Dunn. Federal bailouts followed for politically approved businesses and crony capitalists. The SEIU leadership made serial visits to the White House. More than $3 trillion in spread-the-wealth borrowing was added to the national debt. Obama engineered a federal takeover of health care, and rhetorically waged war on the affluent, who were supposed to pay new taxes as penance for their assorted sins....

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