In praise of non-flattery

In the “Must Reads” at today, we see this:

‘Obama is Average’
A long and utterly brilliant interview with Dr. Charles Krauthammer. Read this if nothing else today.

I happened to read the interview last night, which is in the German weekly Spiegel, and Krauthammer made some interesting points. I thought of posting it, but in the end I felt on balance it wasn’t all that great, and decided not to. Now, one could fairly call it an insightful interview. One could call it thought-provoking and intelligent. But to call it “utterly brilliant” is ridiculous and embarrassing overstatement. It is typical of the grossly excessive praise that since the election of George W. Bush has become common coin in the conservative movement, turning conservatives from thinking people into hysterical fans and groupies, ready at the slightest whiff of a slight to their respective heroes to lash out at enemies.

But it’s not only Lucianne Goldberg who is guilty of excessive or inappropriate praise. Spiegel starts off the interview by describing Krauthammer as “the leading voice of America’s conservative intellectuals.” At the same time, a bio of Krauthammer accompanying the interview says, more accurately, that he “is considered a neoliberal. But as a proponent of the right to have an abortion and an opponent of the death penalty, he is more liberal in many respects than the mainstream of the Republican Party.” Indeed. Krauthammer is a social liberal who happens to believe in an assertive foreign policy, and solely because of the latter he’s called a “conservative.” He is pro-abortion, he expresses no concern about traditional moral values, and he has no problem with homosexual rights and homosexual “marriage.” He supported the 2006 Comprehension Immigration bill, and only turned against the 2007 version because it was so wildly irresponsible that even he couldn’t stomach it. Finally, he’s never expressed any criticisms of the modern super-state. While opposing Obamacare, he says in the Spiegel interview that some version of Obamacare will pass. There’s an anti-statist crusader for you!

Krauthammer is not a conservative, period. How then can he be “the leading voice of America’s conservative intellectuals”?

What’s going on here is the standard liberal manipulation in which liberals like David Brooks and Charles Krauthammer are called conservatives, a definition that consigns actual conservatives to the far reaches of extremism. Notice also that Brooks and Krauthammer never demur when they are called conservatives. They go along with the charade, both because it raises their prestige and influence among conservatives, and because it helps accomplish their own ideological purpose of redefining conservatism as liberalism.

I’m not dismissing Charles Krauthammer. He’s a smart man, and a useful person to have on our side, as in the Obamacare debate. But that doesn’t make him a conservative.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at October 27, 2009 07:12 PM | Send

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