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What I took issue with was Dr. K’s assent to some of the Left’s central premises. Pace Ron, I do not believe that is a model strategy for debating liberals. That was my point about the choice of forum – not that a conservative should refuse to appear on a left-leaning program, but that if a conservative harbors some affinity for progressive principles, it is more likely to surface in a progressive forum than in interaction with his usual conservative audience.

To be sure, Krauthammer challenged a number of Stewart’s “liberal shibboleths”; but, contrary to Ron’s insistence, not all of them. Krauthammer concurred in Stewart’s claim that being a conservative has meant being anti-government. Now, as I made clear in my column, Krauthammer did indeed reject Stewart’s assertion that contemporary conservatives are anti-government. He maintained, however, that Stewart’s statement would have been a fair indictment against conservatives until the New Deal. That is simply wrong. It would be a vast overstatement even if, as I assume from the context, Krauthammer meant conservatives could fairly be accused of being anti-welfare before the New Deal.

Dr. K went on to proclaim, moreover, that conservatives came to accept “the great achievements of liberalism – the achievements of the New Deal” – which he specified as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. These are not “great achievements”; they are pillars of an ambitious dependency edifice erected by statists and controlled by Washington’s career politicians, just as its architects intended. These programs have bankrupted the country. Their combined accrued obligations, plus the accumulating (and inevitably inflating) interest on the astronomical debt that finances them (because they cannot finance themselves), is already several multiples of our roughly $16 trillion gross domestic product, outstripping the nation’s total existing wealth (around $70 trillion).

(Ron also says Charles and I disagree about liberal programs to “end child labor.” I never mentioned the subject; if Charles mentioned it, I don’t recall that; and, other than Ron’s fertile imagination, I don’t know where this supposed dispute comes from.)

Now, as anyone who has followed my work over the years knows, I hold Charles Krauthammer in high esteem. I do not agree with Ron that he is “America’s most well known and highly regarded spokesman for conservatism.” Though Charles defies easy labeling, I see him more in the neoconservative tradition. As Charles points out in his fine new book, Things That Matter, the term “neoconservative” is sometimes used “invidiously”; however, I am speaking of the great tradition of Irving Kristol and Norman Podhoretz. And, in fact, Charles refers to those legendary thinkers, as well as to Ronald Reagan (who, he reminds us, started out as a “New Deal Democrat”), in describing his own journey from Left to Right.

It is not my intention to quibble with Ron on this point. Charles is a hugely influential voice on the Right, and deservedly so. I’ve been privileged to consult with him at times over the years on national-security issues. When he speaks, I almost always learn something, as we all do. What I most admire is his rigor: he tries hard to get the facts right and willingly alters his conclusions when his understanding of facts changes – which is bound to happen now and then to anyone who, like Charles, is daily asked to opine publicly on major news, often before critical details have come to light.

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Goes back to the late 1950s when Ayn Rand criticized Republicans/conservatives for "Me, too"ing the welfare state.

Fifty years down the road, nothing has changed.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Dear Andrew,

I agree with you on almost everything but has Charles weighed in on this very public Red on Red debate? My simple interpretation of what Charles said on the Daily Show was that those programs were a great achievement of liberalism but not that they were good for the country. Just like Obamacare was supposedly a great achievement of progressivism, it is a disaster in practice. Am I missing something?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
You might be right. Only Charles Krauthammer's acclamation of New Deal welfare programs is open to confusion and interpretation as you have done here, not unlike Patrick Buchanan's tribute to Hitler as "an individual of great courage" is open to interpretation.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
All Jon Burack is saying is that if the fiction that Social Security is an insurance program is maintained, it is indeed a Ponzi scheme; if it is transformed into a straightfoward redistributionist program, it will no longer be. But there are obviously very good political reasons why it was sold and continues to be represented as the former. Straightfoward redistribution has always been extremely difficult in the US--without the communal, collectivist and monarchical traditions of Europe, it is too clear that nothing but robbery from one group of people for the benefit of another is taking place. So redistribution always gets disguised as insurance, with the question of how, if most individuals are unable to set aside enough money for their own health care and retirement, pooling everyone's money will suddenly provide for enough of it. In fact, just taking money from, say, 80% of the population and giving it to the neediest 20% would be far simpler and more sustainable--but, again, politically impossible (and immoral). There is probably no way to break the fantasy that we all have more money together than we do individually, at least intellectually--only reality can destroy such fantasies. But until that point it is helpful to have as many people as possible challenging the fantasy, and beginning to construct necessarily radical alternatives that people will be able to discuss as more of them realize they will have no choice.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
This is dishonest on the Social Security-Ponzi analogy. Krauthammer is right that mandatory contributions undercut the analogy, and contra McCarthy it is not a distinction without a difference. You cannot pull your money (taxes) out of the system simply because you suspect the rate of return isn't good enough. Raise those taxes or adjust the payouts in various ways and the program is perfectly sustainable. What has made it problematic is not its semi-Ponzi character (which by the FDR was not happy about either - McCarthy is VERY unfair to his understanding of what he was doing and why), but the vast demographic transformation underway. It was not a transformation FDR or anyone could have expected in the extreme form it has taken - skyrocketing life expectancy and baby boom-baby bust fertility. Krauthammer dwelt on that with Stewart not to ingratiate himself with a liberal audience, but because it is so.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Your link shows up on PJ Media's most popular, but does not show up on their main page. Go figure, you, and I, oppose Ron Radosh's argument.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Life may be too short to unwind everything Ron Radosh distorts in his PJMedia blog post on Monday.

Certainly too short for casual readers to follow.

I need to say that again: mainstream Republican enthusiasm for the welfare state.

The Pubs want theirs a la carte.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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