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Political News and Commentary from the Right

Onward, He Said, Regardless

by Charles Krauthammer at

WASHINGTON — So the yearlong production, set to close after Massachusetts’ devastatingly negative Jan. 19 review, saw the curtain raised one last time. Obamacare lives.

After 34 speeches, three sharp electoral rebukes (Virginia, New Jersey and Massachusetts) and a seven-hour seminar, the president announced Wednesday his determination to make one last push to pass his health care reform.

The final act was carefully choreographed. The rollout began a week earlier with a couple of shows of bipartisanship: a Feb. 25 Blair House “summit” with Republicans, followed five days later with a few concessions tossed the Republicans’ way.

Show is the operative noun. Among the few Republican suggestions President Obama pretended to incorporate was tort reform. What did he suggest to address the plague of defensive medicine that a Massachusetts Medical Society study showed leads to about 25 percent of doctor referrals, tests and procedures being done for no medical reason? A few ridiculously insignificant demonstration projects amounting to one-half of one-hundredth of 1 percent of the cost of Obama’s health care bill.


March 5, 2010 Posted by | Health Care | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ungovernable? Nonsense.

by Charles Krauthammer at

WASHINGTON — In the latter days of the Carter presidency, it became fashionable to say that the office had become unmanageable and was simply too big for one man. Some suggested a single, six-year presidential term. The president’s own White House counsel suggested abolishing the separation of powers and going to a more parliamentary system of unitary executive control. America had become ungovernable.

Then came Ronald Reagan, and all that chatter disappeared.

The tyranny of entitlements? Reagan collaborated with Tip O’Neill, the legendary Democratic House speaker, to establish the Alan Greenspan commission that kept Social Security solvent for a quarter-century.

A corrupted system of taxation? Reagan worked with liberal Democrat Bill Bradley to craft a legislative miracle: tax reform that eliminated dozens of loopholes and slashed rates across the board — and fueled two decades of economic growth.

Later, a highly skilled Democratic president, Bill Clinton, successfully tackled another supposedly intractable problem: the culture of intergenerational dependency. He collaborated with another House speaker, Newt Gingrich, to produce the single most successful social reform of our time, the abolition of welfare as an entitlement.

It turned out that the country’s problems were not problems of structure but of leadership. Reagan and Clinton had it. Carter didn’t. Under a president with extensive executive experience, good political skills and an ideological compass in tune with the public, the country was indeed governable.


February 19, 2010 Posted by | Obama | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Uncertain Trumpet

by Charles Krauthammer at

We shall fight in the air, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields, we shall fight in the hills — for 18 months. Then we start packing for home.

We shall never surrender — unless the war gets too expensive, in which case, we shall quote Eisenhower on “the need to maintain balance in and among national programs” and then insist that “we can’t simply afford to ignore the price of these wars.”

The quotes are from President Obama’s West Point speech announcing the Afghanistan troop surge. What a strange speech it was — a call to arms so ambivalent, so tentative, so defensive.

Which made his last-minute assertion of “resolve unwavering” so hollow. It was meant to be stirring. It fell flat. In August, he called Afghanistan “a war of necessity.” On Tuesday night, he defined “what’s at stake” as “the common security of the world.” The world, no less. Yet, we begin leaving in July 2011?

Does he think that such ambivalence is not heard by the Taliban, by Afghan peasants deciding which side to choose, by Pakistani generals hedging their bets, by NATO allies already with one foot out of Afghanistan?

Nonetheless, most supporters of the Afghanistan War were satisfied. They got the policy, the liberals got the speech. The hawks got three-quarters of what Gen. Stanley McChrystal wanted — 30,000 additional U.S. troops — and the doves got a few soothing words. Big deal, say the hawks.

But it is a big deal. Words matter because will matters.


December 4, 2009 Posted by | War on Terror | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Myth of ’08, Demolished

by Charles Krauthammer at

WASHINGTON — Sure, Election Day 2009 will scare moderate Democrats and make passage of Obamacare more difficult. Sure, it makes it easier for resurgent Republicans to raise money and recruit candidates for 2010. But the most important effect of Tuesday’s elections is historical. It demolishes the great realignment myth of 2008.

In the aftermath of last year’s Obama sweep, we heard endlessly about its fundamental, revolutionary, transformational nature. How it was ushering in an FDR-like realignment for the 21st century in which new demographics — most prominently, rising minorities and the young — would bury the GOP far into the future. One book proclaimed “The Death of Conservatism,” while the more modest merely predicted the terminal decline of the Republican Party into a regional party of the Deep South or a rump party of marginalized angry white men.

This was all ridiculous from the beginning. 2008 was a historical anomaly. A uniquely charismatic candidate was running at a time of deep war weariness, with an intensely unpopular Republican president, against a politically incompetent opponent, amid the greatest financial collapse since the Great Depression. And still he won by only seven points.

Exactly a year later comes the empirical validation of that skepticism. Virginia — presumed harbinger of the new realignment, having gone Democratic in ’08 for the first time in 44 years — went red again. With a vengeance. Barack Obama had carried it by six points. The Republican gubernatorial candidate won by 17 — a 23-point swing. New Jersey went from plus 15 Democratic in 2008 to minus 4 in 2009. A 19-point swing.

What happened? The vaunted Obama realignment vanished.


November 6, 2009 Posted by | Election 2008, Election 2010 | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Obamacare: The Only Exit Strategy

by Charles Krauthammer at

WASHINGTON — Obamacare Version 1.0 is dead. The 1,000-page monstrosity that emerged in various editions from Congress was done in by widespread national revulsion not just at its expense and intrusiveness but at the mendacity with which it is being sold. You don’t need a Ph.D. to see that the promise to expand coverage and reduce costs is a crude deception, or that cutting $500 billion from Medicare without affecting care is a fiction.

But there is an exit strategy. And a politically clever one, if the Democrats are smart enough to seize it.


August 28, 2009 Posted by | Health Care | , , , , | Leave a comment

Hope and Change – But Not for Iran

by Charles Krauthammer at

WASHINGTON — Millions of Iranians take to the streets to defy a theocratic dictatorship that, among its other finer qualities, is a self-declared enemy of America and the tolerance and liberties it represents. The demonstrators are fighting on their own, but they await just a word that America is on their side.

And what do they hear from the president of the United States? Silence. Then, worse. Three days in, the president makes clear his policy: continued “dialogue” with their clerical masters.

Dialogue with a regime that is breaking heads, shooting demonstrators, expelling journalists, arresting activists. Engagement with — which inevitably confers legitimacy upon — leaders elected in a process that begins as a sham (only four handpicked candidates permitted out of 476) and ends in overt rigging.


June 19, 2009 Posted by | Foreign Policy | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment



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