Conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer told "The Daily Show" host Jon Stewart that he's wrong to paint the entire Republican Party with the same brush as a group of conservatives who engineered the partial government shutdown.
Image source: Comedy Central
"There are divisions within conservatives and I think there's a very large element of it which you're missing, and I don't think it's deliberate, but the other side, the more radical elements are the louder ones," Krauthammer said Wednesday on Comedy Central's "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart." "If you watched me over the last month, I have been very opposed to the tactics of those who shut down the government."
Krauthammer said what has defined the Tea Party the most is its desire to get back to constitutional principles supporters feel have slipped away.
"It wants this return to a more limited government ... if you are truly constitutional in that sense, then you have to respect Madisonian structure which has a division of power that's the essence of our democracy and the reason that we have succeeded for two centuries. You divide power and you cannot govern as a minority ... I think that is the essence of what was done wrong," Krauthammer said.
Stewart disagreed, calling it the "natural progression" of Republican politics: the results of GOP strategist Karl Rove's plan to plant "seeds of anger" in voters to win elections, while still maintaining the elite power structure.
"Now the beast that they made in the lab wants to control and have power, and that's where this battle is," Stewart said.
Krauthammer said Stewart was "talking about the politics of it" and pointed to Democratic Rep. Alan Grayson, who this week sent out a fundraising pitch using an image of a burning cross as the "T" in "Tea Party."
"This is a different kind of political culture," Krauthammer said. "It's rapid, we have the social media. A lot of stuff emerges with the blogosphere that wouldn't have emerged long ago. I think you're looking too much at the extremes which express themselves."
Stewart countered that Grayson "didn't try and shut down the government over the repeal of Obamacare."
"This is a movement amongst the right that is not on the fringe that lack power, this is right now the controlling ethos," Stewart said. "There are moderate Republicans, as you speak of, that have a more conservative ethos that do accept a certain status quo ... (but) they are the ones who fear being primaried on the right by all the money that's coming in."
Stewart continued, "it's foolhardy to say that this is an equivalent argument between a fringe on the left and a fringe on the right. There is a group of people that have accepted this status quo consensus, then there is a large group of nihilists that are slowly controlling and consuming the Republican Party that are not allowing the conversation to occur and using their chaos to de-legitimize all government programs."
Watch Stewart's full three-part interview with Krauthammer, via Comedy Central: