Debate: Should Conservatives Oppose a Welfare State?

Editor's Note: PJ Lifestyle seeks to promote dialogue and debate across ideologies, cultures, and religions. This debate in particular -- within the conservative movement regarding goals and tactics -- is vital. Both Ron Radosh and Andrew C. McCarthy are exemplary exponents of their positions. I would like to encourage more debate and discussion on this subject, inviting others to respond to Krauthammer's Daily Show appearance, McCarthy's NRO article, and Ron's PJM article cross-posted from his blog. I will attempt to weigh in soon. - DMS


If you want to know how to have a serious and respectful discussion with liberals, look no further than Charles Krauthammer’s lengthy discussion with Jon Stewart that took place last week on The Daily Show. Dr. Krauthammer is, as I am certain all PJM readers know, America’s most well-known and highly regarded spokesman for conservatism. In this three-part extended discussion, he manages to point to the serious flaws in the Obama plan for a federal takeover of the health care system, highlight why it is doomed to fail, and challenge all the liberal shibboleths that Stewart cogently asserts. There is no animosity between the discussants—only serious, well thought-out exchanges of opinion.

It is clear to anyone who watches the exchange that Krauthammer makes the case for a conservative critique of Obamacare, about which, he says in part three of the discussion with Stewart, all conservatives share a consensus. So it is unsettling to say the least to find PJMedia's Andy McCarthy write on NRO that, like the Republican establishment, Krauthammer “is more sympathetic to Obama’s case for the welfare state than to the Tea Party’s case for limited government and individual liberty.”

McCarthy chastises Krauthammer for going on Stewart’s program, arguing that he and other Republicans “say what they think” so that they might win over a “receptive” liberal audience; hence they endorse a “mature progressivism” that they say is what “conservatives really think.”

Anyone watching Charles Krauthammer’s entire interview will immediately learn that he does not say what he thinks Stewart wants to hear; indeed, he argues strongly against Stewart’s liberal ideological preconceptions, and shows him, and hence his audience, the total folly of a government health program based on taking over one-sixth of the economy.

McCarthy takes particular umbrage to the following passage from the interview, in which Charles Krauthammer says that conservatives today accept,

the great achievements of liberalism — the achievements of the New Deal, of Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare. The idea that you rescue the elderly and don’t allow the elderly to enter into destitution is a consensual idea [accepted by] conservatives, at least the mainstream of conservatives.