Victor Davis Hanson

Eight months after the Benghazi mess, Americans only now are discovering that the government, for political reasons, failed to beef up security at our Libyan consulate or send it help when under attack. It also lied in blaming the violence on a spontaneous demonstration prompted by an Internet video. That pre-election narrative was known to be untrue when the president, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice and White House Press Secretary Jay Carney all pedaled it.

The problem with an all-powerful, rogue government is not just that it becomes quite adept at doing what it should not. Increasingly, it also cannot even do what it should.

Philadelphia abortionist Dr. Kermit Gosnell may well turn out to be the most lethal serial murder in U.S. history. His recent murder conviction gave only a glimpse of his carnage at the end of a career that spanned more than three decades. Yet Gosnell operated with impunity right under the noses of Pennsylvania health and legal authorities for years, without routine government health code and licensing oversight.

In the case of Boston terrorist bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev, his loud jihadist activity earned him a visit from the FBI, and the attention of both the CIA and the Department of Homeland Security. But all that government monitoring was for naught. Tsarnaev was not detained, but allowed to visit Dagestan and Chechnya -- both located in the supposedly dangerous region that prompted his family's flight to the U.S. in the first place.

In all of these abuses and laxities there is one common theme. Bureaucrats, political appointees, regulators, intelligence officials and law enforcement personnel wanted to fall in line with the perceived correct agenda of the day. Right now, that party line seems to be protecting the progressive interests of the Obama administration, going after its critics, turning a blind eye toward illegal abortions, in politically correct fashion ignoring warnings about radical Islam, and restricting some rights of free speech to curtail language declared potentially hurtful.

Conspiracists, left and right, are sometimes understandably derided as paranoids for alleging that Big Government steadily absorbs the private sector, taps private communications, targets tax filers it doesn't like, and lies to the people about what it is up to. The only missing theme of such classic paranoia is the perennial worry over the right to bear arms.

I went to several sporting goods stores recently to buy commonplace rifle shells. For the first time in my life, there were none to be found. Can widespread shortages of ammunition be attributed to panic buying or production shortfalls caused by inexplicably massive purchases by the Department of Homeland Security at a time of acrimonious debate over the Second Amendment?

Who knows, but yesterday's wacky conspiracist is becoming today's Nostradamus.


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.