The Obamas and the Clinton Road to Perdition

Hillary and Bill Clinton were a proud, progressive power couple who came into big-time state politics on promises of promoting “fairness” and “equality.” It did not matter much that very little in their previous personal lives had matched such elevated rhetoric with concrete action. And so the ironies and tragedies that followed were not altogether unexpected.

The theme that united the subsequent tawdry reports about the Clinton cattle futures scam and Whitewater was an overweening lust for money. The Clintons seemed to feel entitled, in the sense that their education, sophistication, and taste deserved the sort of peace of mind, enjoyment, and security that only comfortable circumstances could provide, and which was taken for granted among the rich progressive environments in which the Clintons increasingly navigated. They had arrived and they “deserved” it.

In 2001, we are supposed to believe, the Clintons left office “dead broke” as the result of their sacrifices as first family. In Hillary’s words, they were scarcely able to afford the various mortgages on their homes with which they had been encumbered (“we struggled to piece together the resources for mortgages for houses”).

Given an ever greater need for cash beyond a mere government pension, given that from 2001 onward they had something to sell beyond Bill as a “wise-man” president emeritus (i.e., Hillary’s New York Senate career as a springboard to a second Clinton presidency), and given their innate characters (or perhaps their hamartiai), the next years were predictable. After 2001, the long arc of their moral universe bent toward personal aggrandizement through the Clinton Foundation, pay-for-play State Department favors, and $10,000-20,000-a minute rah-rah speeches to rich people eager to leverage the next episode of Clinton influence peddling.

Such smart, capable, self-assured, and haughty people are the stuff of Greek tragedy, and its warnings about the descent from hubris (overweening arrogance) to atê (unhinged madness) to nemesis (divine retribution and downfall).

align=”left” At the denouement of most tragedies. the figures who survive the wrath of the gods—and who are not themselves beheaded or slain by their own hands—are sometimes enlightened by their destruction, rediscover some purpose, acquire an appreciation of pathei mathos (wisdom through pain) and find peaceful redemption.

People like the Clintons—or for that matter Euripides’s characters such as Jason (Medea) or King Pentheus (Bacchae)—are oblivious to the ultimate and preordained trajectories of their fates. Hillary Clinton has ended up a two-time failed presidential candidate, stained with money grubbing scandals and chronic deceit, who blew huge leads in 2008 and 2016, despite being the beneficiary of unprecedented cash, campaign consultants, and party endorsements. She has sacrificed her health, her reputation, and her very life to do everything  politically right, which was not only ethically wrong but also proved, in good Athenian tragic fashion, politically disastrous. (Tragic figures, remember, do anything and everything they can to pursue an ambitious sense of self—and thereby only ensure that they can never obtain it.)

A gaunt Dorian Gray-like Bill Clinton in his twilight is indeed tragic. He may have the sins of the flesh written all over his face, but he had also convinced himself at one point in his life that his undeniable political cunning, education, and folksy charm could be put to use for noble purposes beyond the tawdry sex, chronic lying, and narcissism that were his brands. But after the scandals, the impeachment, the pardons, the Foundation miasma, the quid pro quo  speaking fees, the Lolita Express, the disastrous campaign interventions for Hillary from 2008 to the tarmac scene with Loretta Lynch, the petty rivalries and double-dealing, optics reflect that there is nothing much left of a once dynamic president but an empty shell.

At the denouement of most tragedies. the figures who survive the wrath of the gods—and who are not themselves beheaded or slain by their own hands—are sometimes enlightened by their destruction, rediscover some purpose, acquire an appreciation of pathei mathos (wisdom through pain) and find peaceful redemption. And perhaps Bill and Hillary, after the wreckage of 2016, might still earn pity and end up like an elderly but sympathetic Oedipus at Colonus.

The departing Obamas should study and learn from the Clinton dual tragedies.

Jason and Medea charming the sleepless dragon of the golden fleece. Giovanni Battista Crosato. (1697-1756)

So far they have already shared uncanny affinities to the early- and mid-careers of Bill and Hillary. Like the Clintons, the Obamas were of the middle-class, Ivy-League trained lawyers, and committed progressives. Similarly, they returned to their Midwest homes to establish local political identities, in order eventually to springboard back to the always favored eastern coastal corridor of culture and power.

Like the Clintons, the Obamas had a unique message that reverberated well beyond progressives: the first African-American president trumped perhaps even the selling-point of the first woman president. Both couples were hip, and helped to redefine the new Democratic Party as the natural home of Wall Street billionaires, Silicon Valley masters of the universe, and celebrity activists. Goldman Sachs and rap music are now complementary, in the manner ostentatious golf gear is now iconic of youthful vigor and not of suburban apartheid.

Like the Clintons, the Obamas felt that their education and progressive caring had unfairly denied them just compensation (cf. Michelle’s chronic “raise the bar” lamentations, and her “downright mean” country, “never been proud” unhappiness). And like the Clintons, their marriage seemed at times as much the fruit of professional legal training, shared ambitions and liberal politics as it is of a bond forged in love and devotion.

Bill always enjoyed good times and was a gifted crammer, in the way that Barack once confessed that he was prone to laziness (“I think there is a laziness in me”). His body man Reggie Love claimed that Obama had a propensity for killing time, such as playing cards on the day of the bin Laden raid.

In contrast, Hillary and Michelle supposedly goaded their husbands onward. Both were sometimes hammered in the press for their dourness, temper tantrums, tough talk, and even more left-wing agendas, and who were protective of their daughters in the sense that they might someday rightfully follow the political pathways of their fathers.

Such angst (as in the case of the Clintons) occasionally led the pre-presidential Obamas to get mixed up with their own petite versions of impropriety (the opportunistic nexus between Michelle’s high-salaried raises and Barack’s steady political advancement) or disreputable Jim McDougal-like hangers-on, such as the felonious low-income housing lord and Obama campaign fundraiser Tony Rezko and his unreported discounted sale to the Obamas of an expanded backyard. 

Like the Clintons, the Obamas survived scandals in office that might have imploded doctrinaire conservatives (Fast and Furious, the surveillance of the Associated Press  journalists and Fox News’s James Rosen, Benghazi, the NSA taps, the Clinton email fiasco, the politicization of the IRS, the likely unmasking of surveilled political opponents, and assorted tawdry incidents at the General Services Administration, Department of Veterans Affairs, and Secret Service.)

align=”right” The Obamas—unlike the Carters, the Reagans, and the Bushes—have decided to stay in the Washington-New York corridor. They have bought a Clinton-like mansion and plan to remain directly engaged in domestic politics, by focusing opposition against their successors. The Clintons might remind them that being a hooked political junkie is not as easy or as post-presidential as easing into the role of a senior statesman.

Now, like the Clintons, the Obamas are leaving the presidency at a similarly young age (Bill was not yet 55 when he left office, Barack is 55) and eager to monetize years of public service and apparent progressive selflessness. The Obamas certainly enjoy the same press adulation and popularity that met the Clintons in 2001.

They should now pause and read Euripides.

One of the first things Barack Obama did after leaving office was to jet off to Tahiti to enjoy a month of downtime (for the majority of the sojourn reportedly alone) with sybarite California multimillionaires and celebrities on yachts while staying in multi-thousand-dollar-a-night paradisiac digs. Bill Clinton long ago wrote the primer on all that. 

The Obamas—unlike the Carters, the Reagans, and the Bushes—have decided to stay in the Washington-New York corridor. They have bought a Clinton-like mansion and plan to remain directly engaged in domestic politics, by focusing opposition against their successors. The Clintons might remind them that being a hooked political junkie is not as easy or as post-presidential as easing into the role of a senior statesman.

Like the Clintons, the Obamas have signed his-and-hers book deals, reportedly for somewhere between $60 and $65 million, topping the Bill and Hillary volumes that in aggregate won advances of little more than half that sum.

We should assume that, like the Clinton tomes, the Obamas will rely heavily on ghostwriters—and aside from some score-settling and self-congratulation, will publish mostly uncontroversial, “inspirational” Clinton-like accounts of their White House tribulations and their speaking truth to the power of the Neanderthal right.

Like the Clintons, the Obamas have discovered that a presidential couple must have a foundation. And so “The Obama Foundation” now follows in the footsteps of the Clinton Foundation, boasting of its noble ambitions (“we will have projects all over the city, the country, and the world”) in the universal fashion of the once heralded Clinton Global Initiative.

Unlike presidential foundations other than the Clintons’, its potential earnings will be enhanced by the fact that both Obamas are going to stay active in national politics, and that Michelle has been mentioned as both a possible senate candidate (think Hillary in New York) and a national officer seeker (think Hillary in 2008 and 2016). Again, the paradigm may be Clintonian—leveraging big money to the foundation that in the Clinton calculus could serve as a convenient prop to keep otherwise unemployable surrogates paid until the next campaign, and to provide the sort of free private jet travel to which the Obamas now feel entitled. 

Of course, central to the Clinton blueprint was big-money from Wall Street speaking gigs. Obama just earned $400,000 for a speech, and, reportedly, has signed on for more. Like the Clintons, he will square the circle that once upon a time, as a progressive in good standing, he fired lots of anti-Wall-Street/free market bullets (“now is not the time for profits”, “at some point you’ve made enough money” [$60 million?], or “you didn’t build that”).

Thus Obama can facilitate that paradox with the proven Clinton wink-and-nod formula (a cynical Wall Street knows that it has prospered as never before under progressives like Obama, that liberal anti-wealthy invective is as scripted as it is irrelevant, and that in the future an Obama may well have political clout worth investing in).

The Obamas, as progressives, are exempt from the hypocrisies of both decrying and leveraging wealth. And they know that the Democratic Party has used hip and cool as cover for rich and privileged. Indeed, they are already half-way along the Clinton post-presidential arc.

Still, they should pause, reflect, and remember where that bend of the Clinton moral universe ultimately ends up.

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About Victor Davis Hanson

Victor Davis Hanson is an American military historian, columnist, former classics professor, and scholar of ancient warfare. He was a professor of classics at California State University, Fresno, and is currently the Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. He has been a visiting professor at Hillsdale College since 2004. Hanson was awarded the National Humanities Medal in 2007 by President George W. Bush. Hanson is also a farmer (growing raisin grapes on a family farm in Selma, California) and a critic of social trends related to farming and agrarianism. He is the author most recently of The Second World Wars: How the First Global Conflict was Fought and Won (Basic Books).

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107 responses to “The Obamas and the Clinton Road to Perdition

  • vdh rules as always, but I think the Obamas are cannier than the clintons. The Obamas know when to quit formal politics.

    • I just think the obama’s have seen how the clinton’s have done it, and are on their way without all the creepy stuff the clinton’s did.

    • Who says they are quitting? They seem to be feeling out any opportunities that present themselves.

  • Must be why Malia is learning how to be a scriptwriter. Only in Amerika…

  • Time for Professor Glenn Reynolds’ 90% tax on paid speeches by former politicians. I’d also be going after foundations and non-profits and removing their tax exempt status.

  • All of this makes for a fine argument against the spread of American democracy in our world. I confess, however, to never elevating either President Clinton or Obama to tragic status as both were woefully mundane figures, with President Clinton being sometimes intelligent and President Obama being sometimes right (not a difficult feat following the Bush presidency).

    I do marvel at this line:

    “ostentatious golf gear is now iconic of youthful vigor”

    Is this really true in America nowadays? I have never played golf.

  • “At the denouement of most tragedies. the figures who survive the wrath of the gods … are sometimes enlightened by their destruction, rediscover some purpose, acquire an appreciation of pathei mathos (wisdom through pain) and find peaceful redemption. Is this likely for the Obamas or the Clintons?”

    Yeah, right after pigs soar like eagles or the Democrats give up “tax and spend” as an ideology, whichever comes first.

  • If I only have time to read one column in a day, I read VDH.

  • “Still, they should pause, reflect, and remember where that bend of the Clinton moral universe ultimately ends up.”

    One of the 3 words that “should” be banned from the English language: shoulda coulda and woulda.

  • I think one of the reasons the Clintons and Obamas cordially detest one another is because they are so similar. We loathe in others what we see in ourselves.

    • No one has made that point before and I find it very compelling.

      • Actually, droolers have been making that point for many years. Like most of the swill your orange master fed you last year, it’s fiction.

      • almost as much fiction as obama’s promises to the african-american community.

      • People like you, with small minds and rigid dispositions, are drawn to the truth, yet feel compulsion to deny it.
        Blocked ya, infant.

      • In the exact same manner, both couples and many of their followers despise Trump–the no class, stupid dirty money man. Their followers include the high IQ liberals, Hollywood celebrities, feminists, college professors, campus rioters, and even the illegal immigrants and criminals.

      • “dirty money” man? OBP Trump is ethical, no crime here…unlike these NWO pimps.

      • The democrat party is an organized criminal syndicate, so it follows that their constituency is the dregs of society in addition to the wealthy and academic elite. barry obama is corrupt to the very depths of his shriveled soul. He is a thoroughly evil man, and the sooner he returns to Hades, the better off the world will be.

    • Plus, Barack is into men, not women.
      Conversely, Hillary is into women, not men.
      Sham marriages the lot.

    • very true, and the reason, i believe, that so many progressives are so angry all of the time. They know in their hearts that they don’t believe the rhetoric, but do so because it’s the “cool thing to do” and it eats them up inside.

      • I think they do believe it, the followers I mean. But they do not live as they believe. They do not vote as they live.
        The real problem with progressive liberals is they have to lie to themselves all the time and that takes so much psychic energy. If they were confident in their views as I am, they would not feel the need to say so often, “I don’t want to talk about it.” I can destroy a liberal with a quip or a pointed question and it makes them nervous because it cuts to the hypocrisy of what they believe. So they daren’t let me speak because doubt is one thing no leftist can accept. They are cultists, not rational thinkers.
        I can argue with conservatives and it is fun. We can disagree and still be okay. Try to argue with a liberal. Fuggedaboutit.

  • Pretty sad that your lives revolve about obsessing about the Clinton’s and the Obama’s. Don’t you have anything else to do?

    • Yeah , like making sure that the long stalled renameing of the Washington Redskins moves forward . Ride that hobby horse cowboy .

      • As an American Indian I often ask others why it is such a bad thing for my people to be depicted as tough, fierce, powerful, brave and noble, with a never-give-up attitude. Liberals have yet to answer me.

        GO REDSKINS!

      • Precisely why so many teams took the native Indian as a mascot. 100 years ago, the Indian wars were still fresh, and participants had remembered how well the native indians had fought.

      • HELL YEAH!

        When it comes to dealing with liberals we need to kick-ass and take scalps!

      • Native American,you have nothing to with India pal, why would you adopt the name given to you by those that colonized , oppressed , and destroyed your lands and people.

      • Because the use of the word “Redskins” is meant as an honorific, not an insult.

      • The NYT actually did a comprehensive survey of American Indians .
        Result , more than 80 % agreed with you . I’m a bit Choctaw myself .
        My grandfather from Oklahoma was known as Indian Jack all around Dallas in the 40’s and 50’s

      • I spent half my childhood playing the part of an indian versus the bad cowboys. I did it because of some of the great books and stories I read about native american life in America pre-1900. Liberals will never answer you, you sound like a “man,” not a dependent needing their endless, useless help.

      • Thank you. I’m a card-carrying member of the Mi’kmaq Tribe from Maine, have an Ivy League law degree and absolutely refuse to play the victim. This is America where regardless of how we started, we can rise–it ain’t easy, but what good thing is. People need to quit bitchin about everything focus on their responsibilities and not just their rights.

        I go by “American Indian” because I’m an American first and foremost. .

      • Our local rival high school team, the Reds, always were fierce, noble powerful and tough. We respected them.

    • Pretty sad that you can’t admit your anointed ones don’t pass the scrutiny of time.

    • If u put the kardashians in instead of the grifters Clinton’s and obama’s families

    • I bet you obsessed about Bush for 8yrs?

      We need to keep the light on the crooks and corrupt power abusing criminals that were and are against the oath they took to be in office.

      Justice must be served on the ones that cried for social justice.

      • Actually, I hardly thought about the Bushes. Was too excited about Obama being elected and when he wasn’t the President I hoped he would be I obsessed more about my disappointment with him. But just for the record…what crime was Obama ever charged with?

      • Fair enough.

        When did I say Obama was charged with or even officially accused of a crime?
        I want investigations into the revelations of unmasking, leaking, abuse of Presidential power and Hillary’s personal server that Obama knew about, he sent emails through it, and any other situations that can be found. Also the fast and furious, that appears to have been a gun running scam to arm a Mexican drug cartel. Obama could have a buffer but I doubt he was out of the loop.
        I believe they are already looking into all of it.
        I can only hope. I don’t pick favorites, other than the rule of law, oh ya, Obama went against his oath of office by not enforcing all laws. If President Trump did anything illegal I want justice on him also.

      • “Abuse of Presidential power”…you mean using executive orders like Trump. This President issues executive orders as often as he sends out stupid tweets. Don’t ever hear anything about his abuse of power. Guess using executive orders is OK as long as you agree with the President who is issuing them. And you want more investigations about Hillary’s server? How many more do we have to endure? Oh, I know the answer…until they get it right and charge her with something. Are you too stupid to realize the only reason this issue ever came up was to damage her election chances and guess what??? Why don’t you look to the Dear Leader. He promised to put her in jail. Oh, my God, she’s still on the loose. We need to track down this dangerous criminal but Trump gets it. He won. No need to go after her anymore. The lock her up crap was just a play to whip up the base.

      • President Trump’s executive orders are under his power, all legal and many are being done to be sure the law is being enforced and for legislative intent.

        Have any examples of any he’s done that have been unlawful?

      • Let’s see. Trumps executive orders are all legal. Obama’s were all unconstitutional. How convenient.

      • No, who said “all” of Obama’s were unconstitutional?

        Many of his where under his power, but the ones trying to create or change law that only Congress can do would be unconstitutional. He tried to use his “phone and pen” as he called it to deliberately go around congress.

        Trump is following constitutional law, so far.

      • Well I will defer to your opinion since apparently you have some expertise in constitutional law and I don’t.

  • “Wall Street knows that it has prospered as never before under progressives like Obama, that liberal anti-wealthy invective is as scripted as it is irrelevant”

    In a nutshell, the Obama “legacy”.

    • And a likely consequence is that Mark Zuckerberg or Jeff Bezos will become the Democratic presidential nominee in 2020, 2024, or 2028. It all depends on which one becomes a trillionaire first.

  • I found it just too delicious that the Obamas decided to spend their post-White House down time in Tahiti. The culture there carries a special elevated status for those of ambiguous gender. The First Tranny must have felt right at home…

  • If they are destined to end up like the Clintons I say let them run besides they are way to narcissistic to imagine it could happen to them.

  • Megalomania is its own reward. Some Greek could have said that.

  • Of course it doesn’t help that Hillary successfully trashed the Democratic party and even though it was likely to lose anyway, Obama now has the luxury of watching while all his ‘achievements’ are gradually turned into dust. They are very much like either-they both think that all that is required is too show up. Best that they just go tend to their respective foundations-no one in the party is real happy with mess that they (Obama/Clinton) have left behind.

  • “They should… reflect and remember where that bend of the Clinton moral universe ultimately ends up.”
    Well, even though the Clintons are morally bereft, their moral lapses and felonies have left them very well off financially. Their reported net worth is substantially over $100 million and even their daughter resides in a $14 million apartment in NYC. By all accounts the Clintons should be in prison. But, just as some banks were deemed too big to fail, former presidents and their spouses seem to have been deemed too big to prosecute. Seeing this, the Obamas may very well follow the bend of the Clinton arc to moral bankruptcy (they are already there) but financial success for themselves and future generations of their family. All the while, they will have the true believer progressives arguing against any attempts to declare them immoral and greedy.

      • As a resident of Chicago, I have known since Obama’s community organizer days that he is an empty suit whose only interest is himself and money. Thank you for your comment.

    • That’s true, but the Clintons could have a trillion dollars and they would still be pathetic……and they know it. Ouch.

    • They won’t be able to “take it with them.”…and they were all already morally bankrupt or they wouldn’t have been hired…..I mean, bought.

  • Pause? Like Bill, Barry is a text book psychopath, with all the ingredients (no male parent, anabsent narcissist Mom, and indulgent grandparents… and plenty of time on their hands to invent a supremely self confident personna), and psychopaths do not pause.
    Did you ever get to meet the late great classics professor, AWH Adkins, Oxford and U of Chicago?

  • Not sure I see any room for Obama. The first black president has been done. The wookie is not likely to bring the people back who fled Hillary.

    • Half black. When Booker runs his slogan will be that he is the first ALL black candidate for Prez.

      • I did not know that… the search continues. Maybe Tim Scott or even better, Clarence Thomas will run. The Left would LOVE that, right? Then they could get a 100% black President. Their dream would be fulfilled.

      • I like Tim Scott very much. Clarence Thomas has a pretty good gig already, but yes when a so called minority is Conservative the love flat out disappears.
        Check out what these lefty loons said about Thomas, very racist remarks sounding just like the KKK.
        Of course it’s really politicalism but what the so called anti racist left rely think is jaw dropping.

  • Barry had zero interest in cultivating a successor as POTUS, are we to believe he will now, out of power?
    No, it’s all about Narcissus…

    • If he had really wanted Clinton to be his successor he could have had her as VP – but no, Obama wanted to be able to sleep at night with both eyes closed, and not to have to look over his shoulder all the time.

  • “… once burned … twice shy.” The Clintons have poisoned the well for egregious political opportunism. The enabling media is also confronting a death spiral of credibility. just sayin’

    • yes, but with the obama’s on the scene, the news media can purchase new knee pads and get back to what they do best…. worship “hip” progressives.

  • To write a an in-depth article like this you have to research all the old news about scandals, misdeeds, self-aggrandizement, mendacity, duplicity, unrepentant lawlessness, money-grubbing campaign fund-raising, satyriasis, sexual violence, prevarication, unprecedented self-indulgence, ingratitude, self-entitlement, self-pity, paranoia, etc. I could go on, but the point is, Dr. Hanson, thank you for enduring what must have been a thoroughly nauseating experience to remind readers of the increasing moral slovenliness of the modern Democrat Party as manifested in their leadership.

    • but, but, but…… they “care” so much!!!!! Sorry, just needed to point out how phony they really are. I agree with your post completely.

      • yeah “care” that’s why they demand other people pay for their “caring” but don’t do much of it themselves. It’s amazing how much they can care when they spend someone else’s money

      • great post! nothing like thousands of democrats becoming well off on the backs of their constituents and the rest of us.

  • At least we won’t from Barack until its subpoena safe for public appearences

  • Spot on. Two money grubbing grifters. He looks like a walking corpse and she a bewildered has been.

  • “And perhaps Bill and Hillary, after the wreckage of 2016, might still earn pity and end up like an elderly but sympathetic Oedipus at Colonus.” Don’t bet on that Professor. Once a basilisk, always a basilisk.

  • Clinton allowed the deaths of thousands of Rwandans and Obama did the same with Syrians and other Middle East countries. Leftists/Socialists/Nazis/Communists always try to outdo each other’s body counts…

    • But Clinton didn’t kill those Rawandans, other Rawandans did. Same with the Syrians.

      Now, Obama did kill lots of Libyans, and let that country fall into the hands of warring terrorist gangs. He should have stayed away.

      • When you can prevent a people from being slaughtered and you stand back and do nothing it IS the same things as you killing them. Hence the famous saying, “all that is needed for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing”. Of course in these situations, we did not have good men as President.

      • Clinton made up for his ringside seat on Rwanda when Bosnia came along.

      • Sin of commission or sin of omission are still sins, just like setting up the American Ambassador to Libya to fail and not lifting a finger to rescue him and other Americans, instead leaving them all to die on 9/11/12…

      • Clinton stood by and let it happen as he did with Islamic terrorism giving rise to 9/11.

  • Four Preludes on Playthings of the Wind
    Carl Sandburg, 1878 – 1967

    The past is a bucket of ashes.


    The woman named Tomorrow
    sits with a hairpin in her teeth
    and takes her time
    and does her hair the way she wants it
    and fastens at last the last braid and coil
    and puts the hairpin where it belongs
    and turns and drawls: Well, what of it?
    My grandmother, Yesterday, is gone.
    What of it? Let the dead be dead.


    The doors were cedar
    and the panels strips of gold
    and the girls were golden girls
    and the panels read and the girls chanted:
    We are the greatest city,
    the greatest nation:
    nothing like us ever was.

    The doors are twisted on broken hinges.
    Sheets of rain swish through on the wind
    where the golden girls ran and the panels read:
    We are the greatest city,
    the greatest nation,
    nothing like us ever was.


    It has happened before.
    Strong men put up a city and got
    a nation together,
    And paid singers to sing and women
    to warble: We are the greatest city,
    the greatest nation,
    nothing like us ever was.

    And while the singers sang
    and the strong men listened
    and paid the singers well
    and felt good about it all,
    there were rats and lizards who listened
    … and the only listeners left now
    … are … the rats … and the lizards.

    And there are black crows
    crying, “Caw, caw,”
    bringing mud and sticks
    building a nest
    over the words carved
    on the doors where the panels were cedar
    and the strips on the panels were gold
    and the golden girls came singing:
    We are the greatest city,
    the greatest nation:
    nothing like us ever was.

    The only singers now are crows crying, “Caw, caw,”
    And the sheets of rain whine in the wind and doorways.
    And the only listeners now are … the rats … and the lizards.


    The feet of the rats
    scribble on the door sills;
    the hieroglyphs of the rat footprints
    chatter the pedigrees of the rats
    and babble of the blood
    and gabble of the breed
    of the grandfathers and the great-grandfathers
    of the rats.

    And the wind shifts
    and the dust on a door sill shifts
    and even the writing of the rat footprints
    tells us nothing, nothing at all
    about the greatest city, the greatest nation
    where the strong men listened
    and the women warbled: Nothing like us ever was.

  • Dr. Hanson has a gift. This is impressive. But perhaps the Greek tragedy may work out to the last act, in the coming years, on all Americans. There is so much activity in the FBI on serious criminal conduct in the Obama Administration, that high level people may go to the penitentiary. The Attorney General, in Nixon’s Administration served time, arguably for far less serious conduct.

    But both Bill Clinton and Obama have shaken conservatives as well. Most conservatives hold a strong belief, an axiom, that if you work hard, earn an education, and persevere all of your career, you can excel in America. But these two Presidents have proven that it is immaterial what you can do; it is all important who you know. The Chicago legal jobs, the Clinton Foundation are now common knowledge. You earn wealth by the shady deal, the pay for play, the rigged game.

    This is, and will be, their historical legacy.

  • And now comes the payoff for our nations first muslim president barack hussien obama.

  • Wow, great article VDH. Right between the eyes, it is amazing (but perhaps not) to see the Clintons and the Obamas travelling the same path post presidency. Very ugly when you think about it, and what past presidents did; Truman, Ford, the Bushes, Reagan. How the left gets away with continuing to lie that the GOP is only for the rich and how the Dems are looking out for ‘the average guy’ is truly amazing. But with a compliant press and academia I suppose it is not so surprising.

  • I read the article with interest. But I cannot helping thinking that the advise given will largely fall on deft ears. They are hearing you by not hearing you. They and their followers have a different value set that is different and that even the right and wrong are debatable. Lying is not lying. “Is” is not really “is”. The “presidency” is “entitled” and not earned. Change of posiiton is not really a change of mind. What good is it to tell them to follow the law you and I follow when they think they are above the law? They are living in different kind of America and in a highly prevailed place where most of us can hardly imagine.

  • No one’s ever accused either Obama of possessing a work ethic. Barack fulfilled his role as Affirmative Action POTUS and it’s unlikely the American voter will care for another dose of a MIA token, esp one as lacking in charisma as Mrs O.

    • AA was well intended..until it became an entitlement program and at that point it became a discriminatory measure by way of racial quota system in implementation in many institutions–favoring one race over the other. “Race can be one factor to use in college admission consideration.” the High court ruled. Can you imagine corporations using race as “a factor” in their hiring process?

  • Always admired Mr. Hanson… his historical works and comparisons.

    Articles like this are generally a waste of time – it feels good to bash former political foes… but we’re accepting similar, if not more destructive, behavior in our current president – Which Mr. Hanson seems to wish to ignore.

    Tell us, Mr. Hanson; What does History say about the effects of a habitually lying President? What is the future of a great country that accepts “immoral and unethical traits” in its leadership? What happens when a great nation runs out of money… and forfeits the ability to borrow money to operate on?

    Mr. Hanson… would be much better employed looking at where we’re going… and less at where we were.

    • Once again, prove your conviction of so called lies.

      Are you a liar, or is it just exaggeration and distraction?

  • Hanson is just another right wing hack who prefers gossip over substance. Just look at how he misquotes Obama–“you didn’t build that.” I know Hansen knows what Obama really said, but chooses to lie about it, just like most of his fellow right wing Obama haters. He should have stayed at Fresno State teaching classics, which he was really good at.

    • little jimmy, you seem to have all the answers…riddle me this…how does one enter Occidental as barry soetoro and leave Harvard as barak hussein obama with no legal data base recording said name change? Until you answer that…f off about VDH. Sincerely, ::::::::

    • Did he misquote Obama? I don’t think so. I read the entire transcript so the context is intact and in full and it’s obvious what he was implying. Left wing hacks like you have been trying to spin this positively, but the intellectually honest know exactly what he meant. Left wing hacks like you always have a contempt for the truth and the American people.

  • I always like VDH and his posts.
    However, the last things I want to read about anymore are clintons and obamas.

  • The poor, the minorities, and the bleeding hearts have been punk’d. Will they wake up now and see how they’ve been used with promises of cradle to grave poverty level handouts that have done nothing but create more poverty and class divide. The grifters have stollen their careers and wealth from the most vulnerable. “Obama gone give money” one uninformed voter claimed in 08. What was real? Those lives got worse as the cons got Wealthy.

    May social justice be served on the ones that used the false promises to get voted in for their personal corrupt benefit.

    Go get them Mr. Sessions,
    Justice must be served!

  • Par excellence, Mr. Hanson! Hubris, ate, indeed—which makes these 4 traitors the nemeses of our Republic.

  • Thinking of Duh Mooch’s face while onstage during Her Nemesis Trump’s inauguration…..
    When will these 4 be in prison?

  • I have but one quibble with this excellent piece, Prof. Hanson. Neither the Clintons nor the Obamas are now or ever have been hip.

  • Sadly, the Clintons and Obamas believe their own BS AND are very skilled at spinning it so the press is just mad about them! They can do no wrong. That is sad for our Constitution and the futures of our next generations. Where will the City on the Shining Hill go if voters don’t get themselves back to the Constitution and on their knees asking for the Lord’s blessings again!

  • I think you give the Clintons and Obamas too much credit in thinking they were ever, “committed progressives”. I think they were committed to whatever they felt might line their pockets. Sure, as teenagers, they had some slight political leanings, but they probably learned quickly that the key to making money at it was on the left end of the spectrum. I love politics. I used to think I wanted to run for office. A good friend of mine once told me that, if I really did want to be a politician, I should veer left and be a Democrat, because I had skeletons in my closet and could get away with it, and, besides, I could make a lot more off of graft that way. He was absolutely right.

    I think most corrupt politicians move left because of that. If that’s the case, and I think it is, then most left-wing politicians are competing for a slice of that progressive pie, and like peacocks competing with colorful feathers and deception, “progressive” politicians are competing with other frauds based on lies. As such, any progressive politicians who succeed must, by nature, be crooks and frauds, because that’s an advantage over any true believes – think about it, a crook who will make a deal with a donor has a huge leg up on someone with actual principles.

    The only politicians we can trust are those who tell us they’re in it to get rich or those who are already rich and who are doing it entirely to further inflate their egos (like Bloomberg or Trump). At least the pure ego guys have decided they already have enough money and now they need a new vanity project for more ego. That’s a much more genuine and pure motive – even if it doesn’t sound like it – than someone who tells me they want me to vote for them so they can control trillions of dollars in tax money to do more for the “greater good”.

  • I think there is a kind of evil in those who want to control our lives but want the freedom to break our laws or not live the way they force us to do. But look at the beaming smiles and beauty of these people in the photograph. No evil shines out of those faces.
    Of course, liberals feel that the right is evil. So we are even.

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