When asked about Joe Klein's post savaging him as a "smug" and "reflexive" hack, conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer had a simple but stinging reply: “Joe who?”
“Charles Krauthammer ... has now completely abandoned any intellectual integrity he may have had and joined the cult of Reagan mythmaking,” Klein writes on TIME magazine’s Swampland blog.
Klein has a "beef," as the Daily Caller's Jeff Poor puts it, with Krauthammer's decision to challenge Gov. Jeb Bush's claim that even Ronald Reagan would have a hard time finding common ground with the Tea Party.
"Reagan was a movement conservative, a leader of the movement. You would call him rigid. He was called worse than that in those eight years. Rigidity is a virtue. Today we use the word ideology as a pejorative. I think it needs to be resurrected. An ideology means a coherent set of ideas and policies, and Reagan had them, and he pursued them,” Krauthammer said during an interview on Fox’s “The O’Reilly Factor.”
“And I think he would be very comfortable today with the Tea Party and the Republican party,” he added.
“I’ve always respected Jeb Bush,” Klein writes.
“He thinks hard about policy issues and has reached across the aisle to create charter schools that service poor areas. His recent comments represent a fierce dose of sanity into our national political discussion,” he adds.
Klein argues that, yeah, Reagan was a conservative, but “more in rhetoric than reality.”
“Reagan did some fine things as president, like challenging and then negotiating with the ‘Evil Empire,’” Klein writes. “But he did not govern as a ‘movement’ conservative.”
Of course, as the entire purpose of his post was to disparage Krauthammer for challenging Gov. Bush’s “even Reagen would be uncomfortable with the Tea Party” speech, Klein ends on this vitriolic note: “Krauthammer used to be an independent thinker, too. Tis a pity he’s a hack, and a smug, reflexive one at that."
Writers at the Daily Caller contacted the conservative author for comment. His reply, as mentioned in the above, was simple: “Joe who?”
Whether Krauthammer's two-word response was meant to be an honest question or stinging retort is debatable. What is not debatable, however, is that if he meant it as an insult, it's pretty funny.
This story has been updated.