Washington, D.C.-- At the National Review Institute summit Friday night, columnist Charles Krauthammer touched on his "disappointment" with President Obama, the "conservatism as a second language" espoused by Mitt Romney and what's it was like changing careers from psychiatry to political commentary.
We were there and we pulled the highlights...
--On the 2012 election, Krauthammer said the country made a decision, though "not a conscious decsion," to "decline" by reelecting Obama.
--He said Obama is a "social democrat at heart" who looks to the European model: Direct all resources to "social welfare." The problem with that, he said, is that Europe could look to the U.S. to provide its defense, whereas the U.S. has no one to turn to if it shifts resources from defense to social programs. "You can ignore your enemies but they won't ignore you," he said.
--Krauthammer on Romney's failure as a presidential candidate: He said 2010 was a "resounding rejection" of Obama's agenda. It was "purely ideological because there were no personalities involved. ... You were voting on issues ... Obamacare, the expansion and government ... the relationship between citizen and State." Krauthammer said in 2012 the injection of a personality (Romney) that couldn't frame the race in terms of ideology is what cost Republicans the race. Romney was a "bad candidate ... He wasn't the best man on our side" to make the election about ideology, he said. "He made it about one issue: The economy." The money quote: "Romney was a man who spoke conservatism as a second language. ... He said he ran a 'severely conservative' administration in Massachusetts. ... Severe is a word you associate with head wounds... not governing."
--On his past "hope" for Obama: "In his first term he made very centrist appointments,' Krauthammer said, naming former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers. "These are not radicals."
--Krauthammer explained his impression of Obama, after a three-hour meeting. "He showed extreme... respect... in understanding a contrarian argument." He said Obama now responds to arguments by accusing his opponents of "bad faith, putting party over national interest." Krauthammer: "I know [Obama] has the capacity to understand the other side, but he demagogues to show that the other side is not serious."
--He talked about his past career as a psychiatrist: "The truth is that I'm a psychiatrist in remission... I haven't had a relapse in 25 years." On being a political analysist, Krauthammer said it "really isn't that differen't from being a psychiatrist: He's still dealing with the "paranoid" and "delusions from grandeur." He added, "the ony difference is that in D.C., those with paranoia have access to nuclear weapons."
--Krauthammer on the GOP's supposed demographics problem: "I don't believe in the demographic theories." He said so long as Republicans "stay the conservative party ... they will succeed ... The reason is we are a center-right country." One problem with the GOP: "Republicans have lost the Hispanic vote ... I think it's unnecessary ... I think that's one community if we were running ideologically, we'd win." The way to approach illegal immigration, he says: Convince the country that the border has been secured and that laws will be enforced while granting illegal immigrants currently in the country a type of amnesty without citizenship.