Victor Davis Hanson

Homegrown, clean-burning biofuels sound great as a partial replacement for polluting foreign petroleum. But at present, to supply grain-based ethanol, we are diverting a large percentage of American farm acreage away from food production. The result — apart from the net energy loss needed to grow and refine ethanol — is that the price of basic food staples is soaring.

It is politically incorrect to say so, but an oil well in Alaska might cause less damage to the world environment, less strain on our own food supply and more savings to poorer American consumers than most of the present alternatives.

What also is the real liberal position on Iraq? Not long ago Clinton and Obama slugged it out, trying to establish who was more anti-war — and who would bring the troops home the most rapidly. But then one of Obama’s chief campaign advisers, the now-dismissed Samantha Power, suggested that an Obama administration would assess withdrawal on the basis of conditions on the ground in Iraq, not according to once-promised timetables.

Power is no conservative. But it sounds like she grasps that the humane -- indeed liberal -- position now on Iraq is to continue to support the democratically elected government of Nouri al-Maliki.

“No blood for oil” and “American imperialism” may be catchy slogans, but no serious observer believes that the United States is stealing Iraq’s oil or trying to colonize the country. The Iraqis themselves are selling oil on their own terms, and they are no longer so eager for Americans to pack up and leave their fragile democracy before it’s stabilized.

Finally, what is the liberal position on race? It is not to offer relative contexts and mitigating circumstances for hate speech, as did Sen. Obama regarding the words of his former pastor. Nor, in contrast, is it Bill and Hillary Clinton’s racial polarizing and scapegoating to defend — and then restore — a poorly run campaign. And it is surely not a Democratic race that has devolved into the candidates counting on their constituents to vote along racial lines.

In short, with all this demagoguing, backtracking and firing of aides, we don’t always know exactly what the Democratic position is on trade, energy, Iraq or race — only that it is seems to be far from what we once thought was liberal.


Victor Davis Hanson

Victor Davis Hanson is a classicist and historian at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and a recipient of the 2007 National Humanities Medal.