Krauthammer, Redux

Part of my blog yesterday concerned statements by Charles Krauthammer, MD, Pundit, and FOX contributor. Krauthammer stated that there were no functional differences between the Tea Party and the GOP establishment. I took him to task and today, The American Spectator joined me. I found this article through a Facebook post by Mark Levin. If you have a Facebook account, I would urge you to ‘like’ his page.

Dear Dr. Krauthammer

O’Reilly, Roger Ailes, and the GOP Civil War.


November 12th. As the O’Reilly Factor begins, host Bill O’Reilly gets the ball rolling with a talking points discussion about the divide in the Republican Party, saying that politics are getting “even more bitter ” and that “Tea Party conservatives, as well as the hard right, continue to reject the moderate wing of the party.” O’Reilly segues to a clip of former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin praising Senators Ted Cruz and Mike Lee and saying among other things that the two were asking for debate and that “when you stand in the middle of the road you’re going to get hit on both sides of the road.”

O’Reilly divides GOP party leaders as moderates, represented, he said, by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, Senators John McCain and Marco Rubio as well as Congressman Paul Ryan. He calls conservatives the “hard right,” pegging the leadership as Senators Cruz, Lee, and Rand Paul as well as Governor Palin. O’Reilly notes that “at this point there’s no détente, both sides are far apart” and refers to the frequent labeling of “RINOs” (Republicans in Name Only) by “talk radio and some on cable news stoke the fire.”

There is a reference to the previous night’s appearance by commentator Bernard Goldberg in which Goldberg accuses the GOP “hard right” of ideological rigidity and need for ideological purity. Also mentioned: “thousands” of letters/e-mails to O’Reilly from conservatives upset with not only O’Reilly and Goldberg but Karl Rove and Brit Hume as well, accusing O’Reilly of being a “traitor” and the others as RINOs. Krauthammer acknowledged that he too had received such missives.

What was striking in all of this was Krauthammer’s insistence that the differences between conservatives and moderates are all about tactics, not goals. Among other things, Sir Charles said that:

I think this whole thing is very much blown up in the liberal media…. The difference between the hard right and moderates is really one over tactics rather than over ideology and objectives…. On objectives you tell me what is the fundamental difference between the so-called moderates and radicals. I don’t see it. We all agree on limited government, we all agree on restoration of individual rights, we all agree on liberty being the central ideal, we all agree on the restoration of individual responsibility and initiative… where’s the big difference?… This is ginned up by a lot of players for a lot of self-interested reasons…. Cool this a little bit by looking rationally at what are the real differences… and they are tactical.

Respectfully, I disagree.

So perhaps it’s best to discuss in letter form to the good doctor, who in fact is highly respected not just here but in many solidly conservative quarters.  (And for the record, the Pulitzer Prize-winning Charles Krauthammer has also been honored by many conservative organizations including both The American Spectator and, just this fall, the conservative Media Research Center. It should also, of course, be mentioned that Dr. K. has a bestseller now on his hands, Things That Matter: Three Decades of Pastimes, Passions and Politics)  and he was the subject of this recent Fox special hosted by Brett Baier.

So, a letter.

Dear Dr. Krauthammer:

The other night on the O’Reilly Factor, you made the case that the differences within the Republican Party were “really one over tactics rather than over ideology and objectives…. On objectives you tell me what is the fundamental difference between the so-called moderates and radicals. I don’t see it.”

With respect, I do see that fundamental difference. And it is certainly safe to say I am not alone in seeing some moderates as having long ago abandoned the GOP’s core beliefs  — and that is in fact a fundamental difference.

The reason there was such heat in the debate between the Cruz-Lee supporters and others over shutting down the government in order to defund Obamacare — or, at a minimum, to delay it a year — was precisely because this was seen on the conservative side of this divide as merely the latest example of moderation at work. And when I say the “latest example” I specifically mean “latest” in the sense that the moderation displayed has been going on now for decades. This was not some one-shot, one-time stand-alone difference.

There is a reason conservatives believe so-called moderates do not, in fact, share the same goals.

To use a central point at issue, just as you correctly say, at the core of the Republican Party is a belief in limited government.

Is that really the case for so-called “moderates”?

In 1980 Ronald Reagan ran for the presidency on a platform that read, in part, this on the subject of education:

… the Republican Party supports deregulation by the federal government of public education, and encourages the elimination of the federal Department of Education.

President Reagan failed to eliminate the Education Department. Why? As his OMB Director David Stockman noted in his baleful memoirs, there were Republicans who “could not and would not disown… the ‘me-too’ statism that had guided it” for the decades leading up to the Reagan presidency. Indeed, Stockman’s point was that there were so many statist Republicans in Congress at the time that there was “no political home” for the idea of limited government in the GOP.

The column continues at the website turning to George W. Bush continuing support for the Department of Education. The creation of the Department of Education was a pivotal point in the socialization of America. The left, in a few years, controlled the institutions across the country, where a few years earlier, those same institutions, were strongly conservative.

I can attest to that. During my college years, 1964 through 1969, my university, Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, was thoroughly conservative.

One of my History, American Foreign Policy instructors was a former Deputy Secretary of State for NATO under John Foster Dulles. He lectured on recent events such as the 1956 Arab-Israeli War, the Hungarian Uprising, and the British fight against communist insurgents in Malaya. His version of events, supported by reams of declassified documents from his days in the State Department, differed greatly from the versions I heard at my democrat parents dinner table.

There was one daily paper in our county. We read it from front to back, but it was the columnists, Drew Pearson and others that formed our viewpoints—democrat, liberal columnists.

It took me some time to compare the opinions from the democrats and the republicans. The democrats presented opinion. The republicans presented facts. In a short time I knew where I stood. I became the second Republican in the family following my older sister, who like me, saw the differences between leftist rhetoric and the actual events.

A few years later, with the ascendancy of federal and state control of education funds under the direction of Johnson’s Great Society, those same conservative instructors were gone replaced by leftists and marxists, secure in tenure, who were last seen on the streets of Haight-Ashbury.

The issue of the elimination of the Department of Education is one proof that the division between the GOP establishment and the grassroots voters is not recent but goes back for decades. The pundits in Washington ignore these examples from history. They fit not their vision and goals, hence they make myth of those divisions blaming liberal media.

They could not be more wrong.