In This Review

The Case for Trump
The Case for Trump
By Victor Davis Hanson
Basic Books, 2019, 400 pp.

Hanson claims to present a case for U.S. President Donald Trump, but his carefully hedged apologia offers no real defense of the president’s ethics, learning, rhetoric, or character. What separates Hanson from the majority of commentators is less his assessment of Trump’s personality than his analysis of the American situation before Trump’s election. For Hanson, the United States in 2016 was locked into an accelerating decline that only desperate measures could reverse. Hanson compares Trump to such figures as Pike Bishop in Sam Peckinpah’s film The Wild Bunch and Ethan Edwards in John Ford’s The Searchers. A good man would not have the skills needed for a dirty job; Hanson’s Trump is a tragic antihero who will be rejected by the respectable people he saved once his work is done. Few of the president’s critics will be convinced by The Case for Trump; they will, however, profit from reading a book in which one of red America’s most articulate exponents explains a worldview that elected a president and that continues to animate millions of Americans.