Charles Krauthammer praises President Obama…sort of

Charles Krauthammer, the former practicing psychiatrist who became a Pulitzer Prize-wining conservative columnist and commentator, had some good things to say about President Barack Obama in a keynote speech to 1,200 people at the Washington Policy Center’s annual dinner at the Hyatt Regency in Bellevue on Oct. 6:

“I credit the President for presenting a view from the left with clarity and honesty.” Krauthammer said, adding: “He is out to remake American society – unabashedly, unashamedly and, I would say, courageously.”

Obama’s presidency has sparked “an extraordinary national debate over what kind of nation we are – who we are as a people, what we believe in,” Krauthammer said.

There is “something intrinsically healthy and clarifying” about this great debate, Krauthammer said. “It’s been a healthy debate, it’s been an important debate, it’s been a spontaneous debate” and one of the most significant in American history.

Obama “thinks very large in world historical terms,” Krauthammer said. He compared Obama to Ronald Reagan, adding: “Obama sees himself as the anti-Reagan….the man who will reverse Reagan” and take the nation “back to a new liberalism.”

Noting that some politicians govern from the “mushy middle,” he said that “Something dramatic has happened on the political scene” and Obama is largely responsible.

Of course, Krauthammer had plenty of negative things to say about Obama, as well as provocative comments on other aspects of American politics:

On Obama’s ideology: “Obama is not a socialist. That’s not a word I would use….The man is a Swede. Sweden is not a horrible place, but it’s not where I want to raise a kid.” Obama prefers a “social Democratic strain of socialism” that is “like Europe” with “less dynamism, less enterprising social mobility, and in the end, less liberty.”

On Obama’s personality: “How shall I put this delicately? He has a remarkable sense of self….Here is a man who accepted a Nobel Peace Prize having done absolutely nothing.”

On the Democrats: “The Democrats misunderstood their leader, they overshot their mandate, and they misread the American people.”

On Obamacare: “I think we will inevitably end up with a British-style health system, unless it’s repealed.”

On the Tea Party: It is a “spontaneous, disorganized, anarchic rebellion” that “has now become a political phenomenon.” It is “the spearhead, if you like, of resistance to the European-style socialism that Obama wants….This is not anger. This is protest. We have a national debate: What kind of government do we want?”

On American politics: “It was always fought between the 40-yard lines,” while in Europe it is from “goal line to goal line.”

On political polarization: “Here was Obama pushing us to the Red Zone…Don’t misread that. I don’t want anyone Tweeting that the man’s a Communist. It’s an NFL term.” Obama has led “an ideological experiment, trying to push us beyond the 40-yard line – but the American people put up a goal-line stand around the 35-yard line.”

On America’s future: “We want the essence of the American experiment to remain its core….Something politically alien is happening in America and people are rejecting it like a foreign body….It will be up to Americans to decide which way they want to go….The country is still suffering. The country is looking for a way out.”

On psychiatry versus punditry: “I still deal on a daily basis with people who suffer from paranoia and delusions of grandeur,” but in Washington, D.C., “they have access to nuclear weapons.”

On moving from speechwriter for Walter Mondale to commentator on Fox News: “The answer is simple: I was young once.”

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About John Hamer
JOHN HAMER is President of the Washington News Council, an independent forum for media fairness that he co-founded in 1998. Hamer was formerly Associate Editorial-Page Editor at The Seattle Times and previously Associate Editor with Congressional Quarterly/Editorial Research Reports in Washington, D.C. Read more about John or read John's blog posts.