Charles Krauthammer tells the Conservative Leadership Conference what’s happening in Washington.
“This has been an epic moment in American political history.” The country has been engaged in a great national debate. “This is about one question … about the size, the scope, the reach of government … about the nature of the American social contract” between citizen and state.
It’s a moment of “glory” because it doesn’t happen very often. And it will be decided in November.
Three acts: The first is the liberal ascendency of 2008.
Act two: the counter-reaction, ended in November 2010.
Barack Obama was an unknown quantity, Krauthammer says. He was very cagey, a sort of Rohrsach blot of a candidate.
Krauthammer speaks of a pre-inauguration dinner with Obama, who impressed the conservative pundits with his Socratic manner. And with his understanding of the right.
But Obama’s speech to Congress in February dropped the veil, saying he was there to fundamentally change America. His New Foundation was meant to be a New Deal.
He is about social democracy, Krauthammer says. But America is uniquely founded on liberty. “That is what the great debate is about.” Do we affirm America, or go the European way? Here, the individual is sovereign. There, the government grants rights.
What is Obama’s real orientation? Kansas, Hawaii, New York, Harvard, Chicago? “Barack Obama is a Swede,” Krauthammer says. The European social democracy, or Nanny State, is his goal.
That is why Reagan was so important: Change the U.S. mindset about government. Even Clinton admitted, “The era of big government is over.” Same with Thatcher.
An ascendancy is when even when the opposition gets in, they keep the same course. That’s what Obama wants.
And he doesn’t lack self-regard. When he introduces “my secretary of state.”
But Democrats overplayed their hand.
And the third flaw: They misread the mood of the country — the fiber of the country.
That’s where the second act begins: The Tea Party. “On your own, you said no. This is not us. This is not America,” Krauthammer said.
But Obama wouldn’t back down. He and Reid and Pelosi rammed it through.
The end of Act II: the American people expressed their views, showed their moral fiber.
Dems lost in Congress — but more important, they lost in the statehouses. For example, Wisconsin becomes a state that is trying to cut public employee unions down to size — to get at the root of the corrupt union deals.
That’s the end of Act II.
In Act III, we resolve the question. Obama has been very clever. He stopped governing after the midterm election; it’s all been campaigning.
And he’s been lucky in his opponents. The GOP race: Krauthammer calls it a clown car in a demolition derby. But politics is the only field that runs negative ads.
Imagine the airlines running negative ads! “If you want to die, fly Delta!”
GOP’s chance is 50/50, now. But he thinks the fiber of the nation will carry us through.
Krauthammer thinks conservatives have a chance to reverse the trajectory of the nation.
“I have a sense of a providential hand in American history,” he says, though he’s not a religious man.
Think of the Founding Fathers, a Lincoln, an FDR, a Reagan, emerging when most needed.
The implication: someone can still emerge. Fingers crossed.
Q and A: Does the message need to be dumbed down?
No, Krauthammer says.
“This is not a supine population. This is not a dumb population,” he says, referring to the Tea Party.
People understood in November 2010. They can understand.
For the Euro model is imploding. It treats people as children and makes them children; and it’s going broke, anyway.
The main thing: Beat Obama. He seeks to change the ideological trajectory of the nation. He wins, against a weak candidate, he could change the nation. “Obamacare alone” would change the nature of America.
The Buckley rule: vote for the most conservative candidate who can win.
Yes, there’s a strong likelihood Israel will attack, to pre-empt attack, Krauthammer says. Netanyahu won’t allow another Holocaust.
Ron Margiotta gets the first Audentia Award from Civitas. “Audentia” is a Latin word that can mean “bold” or “courage.” What we also stress is that his reforms also helped the students.
Civitas President Francis X. De Luca, in his remarks: “We are all guilty” of turning away from our nation’s founding principles. “Every day is election day” in that conservative principles must be affirmed constantly. The 2012 election is only part of a process.