Last night on Fox News Bill O’Reilly played a clip of Newt Gingrich quoting Charles Krauthammer and then sought the pundit’s reaction:
Krauthammer was his usual wit:
That was clearly the high point of Gingrich’s address. And I commend him for the sagacity and the wisdom of his choice of authorities… He had me sort of right, though what I was saying was that Romney lacked the fluency of conservative language.
Krauthammer made several worthwhile points in the segment, often disagreeing with O’Reilly’s simplistic analyses.
This seems an accurate take on Romney as recent convert to conservatism (emphases mine):
Look, he’s a guy who, admittedly, what he said in the second debate in Florida about what he had done for the movement. He frankly said, you know, “Not that much. I was a businessman. I was out of the political arena for most of my life. And then I became political. And in time I became a little bit more conservative.”
There’s nothing wrong with that. Ronald Reagan started out as a liberal Democrat. A lot of people have evolved in their lifetime.
But I think it’s true to say that he doesn’t have the same kind of conservative instincts, and he doesn’t have a fluency with the language and the ideas that somebody who’s been indoctrinated in it for 30 years.
And here the core of the anti-Gingrich argument:
So when I asked him [Gingrich] once on “Special Report” when we had the candidates about, you know, the sitting down on the couch with Nancy Pelosi, how could you do that if you’re a conservative, and he basically said, “Well, that’s the dumbest thing I ever did” without getting an answer.
I think the answer here is that, if you’re not sort of intellectually disciplined, you’re willing to pick up an idea here and there as it comes across the transom, as it becomes fashionable at the time, and thus a lot of conservatives have a worry that, if he were president, he’d wake up once a week with a new idea which may or may not be…
There’s nothing wrong with being erratic in one’s ideas and exploring the cutting edge in thinking. (It’s an intellectual bad habit that I’m guilty of myself.) Just don’t be surprised when people find that temperament more appropriate to the think tank/media/activist world rather than the Presidency.
Finally Krauthammer concludes with an effective repudiation of O’Reilly’s suggesting a conservatism descendent:
O’REILLY: Be conservative. But the world is changing. And in the Nevada vote, most people who describe themselves as conservative voted for Mitt Romney. So I don’t know if — if really hard-core conservative Americans are wielding the influence that they once did, for example, in the Reagan era. I think that the changes in the world have made problem solving rise above conservative ideology.
I’ll give you the last word.
KRAUTHAMMER: No, I disagree. I think if you define it in terms of smaller government, not the social issues but sort of the social contract – – What does the citizen owe the state and the state owe the citizen? — I think there’s been a rise of conservatism.
I think particularly in reaction to Obama and the liberal overreach and the Gallup shows twice as many conservatives as liberals in the country. I think on the social issues, there’s a generational change. Younger people are less concerned about gay marriage, for example. And I think over time that issue will wither away.
But on the fundamental issue of what should government do? How intrusive, how big, how wide, how…
KRAUTHAMMER: … strong it should be, on that there’s a very strong conservative majority in the country. And I think overall, it will prevail.
See the whole transcript here.
David Swindle is the associate editor of PJ Media and writes a post each day on news and politics at PJ Tatler and culture and entertainment at PJ Lifestyle. He can be contacted with feedback and story tips at DaveSwindlePJM[@]gmail.com and on Twitter @DaveSwindle. He enforces commenting guidelines on his posts — rude, off topic and ad hominem comments will be deleted.