The Mythical Trump Hydra

Many are the hissing heads of the polycephalic Donald Trump—at least according to the progressive Left and the NeverTrump Right, who see the president of the United States as some sort of mythical nightmare. Here are a few of his supposedly monstrous manifestations.

Trump, the Profiteer 

Candidate Trump never really wanted to be president. His entire amateurish and buffoonish candidacy was designed only to enhance his brand. Once he was unexpectedly elected, Trump was more shocked than anyone, and quickly sought to maximize his profits from the Oval Office. Thus, followed the constant progressive evocation of the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution to prevent chronic Trump profiteering.

In reality, the Trump empire reportedly has declined by nearly $1 billion in net value, aside from the tens of millions of his own money that Trump spent on the 2016 campaign. Trump’s business interests are the most thoroughly investigated of any recent president in memory. Obama and the Clintons made millions from their presidencies; Trump may well end up losing billions.

Trump, the Liberal 

NeverTrumpers insisted that the politically polymorphous Trump was lying about his hard conservative agendas during the 2016 primaries. In truth, they warned, Trump was a Manhattan liberal wolf in right-wing fleece clothing. 

If ever elected, Trump would adopt progressive abortion policies, become another radical environmentalist in the fashion of a squishy Arnold Schwarzenegger, select liberal justices like his moderate federal justice sister, ignore evangelicals, and in general defer to the liberal foreign policy establishment. In sum, Trump would keep none of his conservative promises and govern to the left of the McCain wing of the Republican Party 

In reality, the Heritage Foundation in January 2018 found that the first months of the Trump Administration were more conservative than any prior Republican in recent memory, including Ronald Reagan at a commensurate time in his first term. Trump’s positions on illegal immigration, deregulation, foreign policy, and social issues such as abortion and radical environmentalism are markedly to the right of most in the Republican Party.

Trump, the Russian Asset

Trump ran for president to enhance his prior partnership with Vladimir Putin. His team connived and colluded with the Russians to ensure Hillary Clinton’s defeat and, in quid pro quo fashion, endangered U.S. security by giving concessions to their Russia puppet-masters. Trump admired autocrats like Putin, so it was natural that he would favor Kremlin interests rather than those of his own country. It would be embarrassing to list all the distinguished pundits who assured us, in the frenzy of May 2017, that Trump would certainly soon be indicted, impeached, or disgraced due to his slam-dunk collusion with the Russians. 

In reality, Trump utterly rejected Obama Administration’s appeasement policies—the so-called Russian reset—that included a hot mic promise to be “flexible” about (read: discontinue) agreed-upon joint missile defense systems in Eastern Europe. Robert Mueller spent $32 million and 22 months to find Russian “collusion” or “obstruction” of such an investigation. Yet, Mueller’s hyper-partisan legal team found no instance of collusion and no proof that Trump could be legally indicted for obstruction of justice. 

In reality, and in contrast with the Obama Administration, Trump slapped tougher sanctions on Putin’s circle; pumped far more U.S. oil and gas that helped lower world energy prices to Putin’s chagrin; killed scores of Russian mercenaries in Syria; vastly beefed up the U.S. military; jawboned NATO into spending more on collective defense against Russia, while withdrawing from asymmetrical short-range missile treaties with the Kremlin due to Russian cheating. All the former and current federal officials, who peddled the “collusion” and “obstruction” mythologies eventually were rendered as incompetent partisans who dishonestly promulgated fantasies at best and outright lies at worse—among them John Brennan, James Clapper, James Comey, Andrew McCabe, Gerald Nadler, and Adam Schiff.

Trump, the Unhinged 

Donald Trump is mentally and physically ill, unfit to be president, and thus should be removed under the 25th Amendment. His ample girth, garish orange tan, and comb-over pompadour hairstyle, horrific diet, chronic insomnia, age, and stress offer proof that he is unhinged and delusional. He is a sick man, who can scarcely utter a coherent sentence and is suffering from pre-dementia as he rails about buying Greenland. 

In reality, Trump easily aced the Montreal Cognitive Assessment, which calibrates pre-dementia, administered by his presidential physician—a test that Joe Biden, presidential aspirant, might have far greater difficulty passing. In terms of age, Trump seems far more vigorous than most men at 73—and downright youthful compared to a faltering and often confused and addled 76-year-old Biden. Trump is able to speak extemporaneously for extended periods of time while holding the attention of an audience of thousands. No one seriously believed that talk of removal through the 25th Amendment was anything other than a last-ditch effort to remove Trump from office after the failure of impeachment proceedings and the Mueller investigation. 

Trump, the Racist and White Supremacist

According to this narrative, and to paraphrase the New York Times, after the sudden and unexpected collapse of the Mueller investigation, progressive elites and the media scrambled hand-in-glove to resurrect a new narrative that might remove Trump from office—given that obstruction and collusion stories were exposed as partisan fantasies. 

Trump expressly condemned white supremacists and Antifa thugs after the violent confrontation in Charlotte. His chief sin was saying that both those who were there to protest in nonviolent fashion white supremacists, and those who were not white supremacists but opposed the toppling of Confederate statues, were alike “fine people.” He later emphasized his disgust with and opposition to white supremacy as he has most recently following the El Paso shooting.  

Trump’s real crime in matters of race and ethnicity is that, all during his pre-presidential career and during his time in office, he simply ignored race and thus felt no compunction about deriding anyone—white, black, brown, Asian, or Latino. And such equal opportunity invective and personal disparagement are seen in our race-obsessed culture as proof of “racism” and “white supremacy” by a failure to exempt the non-white. 

In reality, a recent Zogby poll suggests that Donald Trump may well attract more combined Latino and black voters than any recent Republican president. The current minority unemployment rate may well be the lowest in history—a fact quietly acknowledged by millions of minority youth who for the first time in their lives are being courted by employers. Certainly, President Trump’s has not used inflammatory explicit racialist language in the fashion of Joe Biden, Harry Reid—and Barack (“typical white person”) Obama.  

Trump, the Incompetent Buffoon

Trump is purportedly an utter incompetent executive. His administration is in shambles, directionless, characterized by massive firings, resignations, and utter chaos—reflective of his previous bankruptcies, failed business ventures, thrice-married personal life, and constant Twitter vendettas. The Trump economy, social policy, and foreign policy are in freefall. We will be lucky to avoid a depression or major war—or both—by 2020.

In reality, previous presidents had not achieved 3 percent annualized GDP growth since 2006, prior to the greatest financial collapse since the Great Depression. Unemployment is at near-record peacetime lows. Interest rates and inflation are low. Gas and oil production is at record highs. The United States is finally addressing three decades of Chinese commercial banditry and neo-imperial aggression. Most in the know privately criticized the Iran Deal and the Paris Climate Accords, but few other than Trump thought it possible to exit both. Many NATO allies are addressing broken promises to spend more on defense. Trump entered office with North Korea pointing nuclear-tipped missiles in our direction. International organizations and transnational elites are as loud in their hatred of Trump as privately many foreign bureaucrats appreciate the Trump standoff with China and his tough stance with North Korea and Iran.

The Trump, the Certain Loser

Trump was shocked by the improbable 2016 victory, and supposedly he has already accepted defeat in 2020. Indeed, he may prefer in 2021 to exit to an obscure retirement, defeated, exhausted, and repudiated. Trump accepts that he has driven the brightest Republican minds out of the party. Meanwhile, Trump supposedly disgraced conservatism by bringing in the carnival crowd of Omarosa and Anthony Scaramucci, and thus just wants everything to go away. He will go through the motions of reelection in 2020, but privately concedes that he has failed, disgraced the country, and will be happy to leave with his tail between his legs.

In fact, in 2016 the outspent Trump ran a far more efficient and effective campaign than did Hillary Clinton, especially in the field of sophisticated analytics and electronic data, in targeting swing-state voters who mattered rather than dispersing finite resources in areas that had no role in winning the Electoral College. His energy dwarfed the anemic efforts of a younger Hillary Clinton. 

In 2020, Trump has already raised vast sums of money, will field an even more sophisticated team of data and social media analysts, and fully expects to defeat his Democratic opponent and use the ensuing four years to advance his agenda, by sealing the border, reforming legal immigration, forcing bilateral symmetry with China, addressing massive national debt, and translating his nationalist-populist agenda into Republican orthodoxy. 

The problem is not Trump’s crisis of confidence, self-reflection or depression, but whether his mid-70s health will match his schedules.

Trump Is What He Always Was

The strange thing about these various hydra heads of Donald Trump is that very few of them were based on any empirical evidence. Instead, they revealed more about the conspiracist than the object of his conspiracy theory—namely a pathological hatred of Trump and his supporters that blinded them to the actual record of governance. 

In truth, Trump was never hard to figure out. While his narcissism and ego may in part have driven him to run for president, far more important was his sense that the country was mired in stagnation and  frequent self-inflicted miseries, and that his own unorthodox theories about overregulated business, Chinese cheating, European free-riding and mercantile trade policies, and overregulation would allow American free-market capitalism to lift the country out of self-induced lethargy. 

Call all of that hocus-pocus or sheer craziness, but it is sincere nonetheless. Trump is what he always was: he believes that he is a self-anointed updated version of the anti-hero who claims the crude skill sets to confront the cattle barons of the world—with the full knowledge that by doing so, his beneficiaries will soon resent they ever stooped to call in such a crass outsider—a realization that explains Trump’s constant efforts to win praise and to be appreciated.

Otherwise, we forgot that hydras are mythical creatures and only the delusional believe them to be real.

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About Victor Davis Hanson

Victor Davis Hanson is a distinguished fellow of the Center for American Greatness and the Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. He is an American military historian, columnist, a former classics professor, and scholar of ancient warfare. He has been a visiting professor at Hillsdale College since 2004, and is the 2023 Giles O'Malley Distinguished Visiting Professor at the School of Public Policy, Pepperdine University. Hanson was awarded the National Humanities Medal in 2007 by President George W. Bush, and the Bradley Prize in 2008. Hanson is also a farmer (growing almonds on a family farm in Selma, California) and a critic of social trends related to farming and agrarianism. He is the author of the just released New York Times best seller, The End of Everything: How Wars Descend into Annihilation, published by Basic Books on May 7, 2024, as well as the recent  The Second World Wars: How the First Global Conflict Was Fought and Won, The Case for Trump, and The Dying Citizen.

Photo: Photo illustration by Pedro Gonzalez via Getty Images

Content created by the Center for American Greatness, Inc. is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a significant audience. For licensing opportunities for our original content, please contact licensing@centerforamericangreatness.com.