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Godwin’s Law, Or, How To Lose an Argument in One Paragraph


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Steven Hayward

Mar. 9 2019

Last week, in a fit of sentimentality, I published an article in the Washington Examiner magazine with the grandiose title “My ‘Geneva Convention’ for the Trump Wars.” It’s out from behind the Examiner paywall now, and we posted it in our “Picks” section a few days ago. There is a backstory to this article that I can’t fully share, as it involved some private communications with some “Never Trump” figures (though I am trying to retire that phrase) and pro-Trump friends. The main point was simple: by all means we shall keep fighting, but can we stop with the ad hominem insults and hyperbole about the other conservatives we disagree with? Can we stick to the substance of the matter? There is no good reason to open permanent divisions among like-minded people over a single figure who will be in the historical rear-view mirror in either 22 months or six years.

It turned out to be have an extremely ill-timed article, and perhaps I shouldn’t have published it at all. In addition to the Atlantic article I referenced in the piece about the resolute anti-Trump view of The Bulwark, there comes now Gabriel Schoenfeld’s review of Victor Davis Hanson’s new book, The Case For Trump, which Victor kindly previewed for us here a few days ago.

Schoenfeld doesn’t like Victor’s case much at all. Most of the counter-argument is familiar: Trump is an extreme narcissist and prevaricator even by the low standards of politicians, etc. Also a racist, etc. Here (and in other places) I think Schoenfeld goes too far in crediting the liberal narrative about Trump on this and some other questions, but he’s hardly alone in thinking so. Up to this point his arguments against Trump, and Victor’s case, are not new. By now, three years into the Trump Era, the back and forth about Trump is starting to take on the same dreary repetitiveness of the climate change debate, with both sides thinking if they repeat their main points one more time, only louder!, it is going to swing opinion right around.


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