Victor Davis Hanson
Democrats in Congress recently went all out to try to pass the Dream Act, an amnesty for illegal-alien students willing to enroll -- and stay -- in college. Most who opposed it were derided as heartless at best, racist at worse. An insolvent California -- still struggling with its $15 billion budget shortfall -- is trying to advance its own version of the bill that would contravene federal immigration law and cost millions of dollars.

At about the same time, the state has announced plans to release about 40,000 prison inmates due to a shortage of funds needed to address overcrowding. Highly taxed Californians can borrow money to send illegal aliens to school, but not to keep felons in prison.

Americans still seethe about the Wall Street meltdown of 2008. But the "fat-cat bankers," in fact, were players in a far larger fraud made possible by liberal executives at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Bill Clinton's appointees and insider friends like Franklin Raines, Jim Johnson, Jamie Gorelick, and Robert Rubin made millions while agencies and banks they oversaw lost billions.

It was just disclosed that Rep. Barney Frank helped land a job at Fannie Mae for his then-live-in boyfriend Herb Moses -- despite at the time sitting on a House oversight committee that monitored the federally regulated agency. Fannie Mae went belly up. Moses made a lot of money. And Frank kept assuring the public in hearings that the nearly insolvent agency was in no financial danger.

When news surfaced about Frank's conflict of interest, he scoffed, "There is no rule against it at all," and predicted the story would die. He was right, it will. But substitute scary names like Dick Cheney or Halliburton and it would not have.

Last week, President Obama quietly signed a renewal of the once-hated Patriot Act -- rather nonchalantly from the United Kingdom via mechanical autopen. There was no media outrage, there were no hyperbolic campus protests, no juvenile outbursts from a Hollywood celebrity about shredding the Constitution. Most even forgot that senatorial candidate Barack Obama had once promised to help repeal the Patriot Act.

But then such moral outrage belongs to the now fossilized age of George W. Bush's presidency, when the exalted goal of stopping a conservative Texan justified any means of opposition necessary. We may continue almost all of his antiterrorism protocols, but they can no longer earn elite outrage.


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.