tv Charlie Rose PBS November 28, 2013 12:00pm-1:01pm PST
>> rose: welcome to the program. tonight, charles krauthammer pauthor of "things that matter: three decades of passions, pastimes and politics." >> in some ways the book is an homage to politics. i wanted to write a book that was only about the nonpolitical stuff, the stuff that's outside of politics, the stuff that enchants me, amuses me, and moves me. but in the end, i decided i can't really do that, and the reason is because politics is so ultimately important. and as i write in the introduction of the book, it's sovereign. because everything else-- all the lovely, beautiful other elegant, graceful things in life-- depend on us as a society getting the politics right. >> rose: charles krauthammer for the hour next.
captioning sponsored by rose communications from our studios in new york city, this is charlie rose. captioning sponsored by >> rose: charles krauthammer is here. he is a syndicated columnist, a political commentator, a writer, and a physician. he also offers one of the most important perspectives on conservative politics. politico recently called him a de facto opposition leader for the thinking right. he was awarded the pulitzer prize for commentary in 1987. he has now published his first book "things that matter" is a
collection of his previously published writings. i am pleased to have him here apt this table. >> pleasure to be here with you. >> rose: what was the motivation to put this together? three decades of passion, pastimes and politics? >> gap bring debt. ( laughter ) >> rose: that will do it every time. they were at the door. >> putting me money it's o on ts and obamacare. i never wanted to do a collection, but having waited so many years i thought a collection that goes all the way back to when i began in journalism-- my first day was the day that ronald reagan was first sworn in, january '81, that's when i started. i thought the span of time now-- it's over 30 years, really momentous decades-- would give a kind of personal history of the youth over this incredible time. so i thought it wof value beyond being just, you know, a collection of the best stuff i
had written. and the other reason is that in some ways the book is an homage to politics. i had wanted to write a book that was only about the nonpolitical stuff, the stuff that's outside of politics, the stuff that enchants me, amuses me, and moves me. but in the end i decided i can't really do that. and the reason is because politics is so ultimately important. and as i write in the introduction of the book, it's sovereign, because everything else-- all the lovely, beautiful, elegant, graceful things in life-- depend on us as a society getting the politics right. >> rose: i guess a work title-- there's more to life than politics. you're quoted as saying, in the end i couldn't, for the simple reason, i same reason i left psychiatry for journalism while science, immediate, art, poetry, architecture, chess, spacious
sports, number theory, and all things hard and beautiful promise purity, elegance, and sometimes even transcendence. those things, are fundamentally subordinate. in the end, they must bow to the sovereignty of politics." >> well, it's a parcox in our lives because the practice of politics day to day is fairly low-- grasping, grubbing, manipulative, cynical. but in the end, you've got to get the politics right. it's the reason people walk away from politics. they don't want to participate. don't want to watch. don't want to hear about it. but you can't, because in the end you've got to get it right. i'll give you one example. you can have the most efluorescent and sophisticate of cultures, and if you get the politics wrong, everything gets swept away-- germany, 1933, china during the cultural revolution. you don't have to go back into history. north korea today, the south has
gotten the politics right. people live there -- >> rose: and the economics. >> right. -- in prosperity and in freedom. the north has gotten it tragically, horribly wrong. it's in the grip of a mad kind of stalinism. as a result, people are enslaved and society is a spiritual and material desert. that's what happens. and that's why even though i really enjoyed the practice of medicine and i believe to this day it's one of the most noble hendefers anybody can engage-- endeavors anybody can engage in, i left it because i thought everything in the end is going to hinge on politics. i want to be in the conversation. >> rose: were you a psychiatrist that sat with patients and listened to their problem or were you some other kind of psychiatrist? >> i tried to do as little of the former as i could. when i was choosing which psychiatric i would do after medical school. >> chose the one at the massachusetts general hospital for the reason that it was the most biologically oriented.
i'm quite opposed to psychoanalytics -- >> rose: you took the words out of my mouth. are you in sync with the notion nathat neuroscience has overcome psychiatry? >> i am and i was, and that's precisely why-- i mean, i think, you know, the psychiatry, the psychoanalysis, the theory that was rooted in really nothing but speculation and wonderful writing it's freudian theories and the offshoots -- really had to yield to the coming of the knowledge in neurology, behavioral psychiatry, et cetera. and that's why i chose a program where they emphasized that. and that is what really fascinated me, the interaction between the brain and behavior. but old stuff, look, i don't-- i don't want to denigrate it. it works for some people, but i'm not really into the interior life, so after about six years, seven year of medicine, i thought well maybe if you're not interested in the interior life,
psychiatry is not for you. and that's why i left. >> rose: it probably was a good choice for you because journalism, allows you to look and reach into all of them because it gives you the context to the quality of our life and our politics. >> exactly. and it gave me the freedom as a column writer. i could write about anything. and you're right, there is a common theme. what attract meas and sort of inspires me is anything that is extremely hard, that's an example of human excellence and transcendence-- it can be walking on the balance beam or it can be what kennedy did with the moon shot when he said, "we do these things not because they are easy but because they are hard." and it's when humans undertake things that they really have no business doing, like orbiting the earth or landing on the moon or doing -- >> rose: or mapping the human genome >> exactly, or getting-- a shortstop getting a backhand in
the hole, jumping like jeter and throwing-- that's not what humans are supposed to do. they're supposed to walk on two legs, and run away from a tiger, and take the fruit off a tree. that's essentially what humans are built for. and they do all this fantastic stuff. how can you not be thrilled? >> rose: and chess appeals to you because? >> it's so intricate, and because it's ultimately quite useless. it doesn't have a consequence, but there's something so wonderful-- i actually twice-- not once, but twice-- i have to confess, and i do in the book in the introduction-- drove from washington up here to new york to see a chess match-- people think i'm truly eccentric. but i didn't sit there watching the game. i sat in the room with the grandmasters who were getting all the moves and throwing out analyses on the board-- he ought
to dox,y, andz-- and i was sitting knox another amateur who was hearing all these and he said, "unheard symphonies, melodies that will be lost forever." the variations that were never actually played but there's something so musical and so impossible about chess that i've always found it incredibly attractive. and i have to say, addictive. i have twice now given it up because when you find yourself in the middle of the night playing internet chess, you think of yourself as an alcoholic in a motel room drinking aquavelva. that's when you know you hit rock bottom. you have to quit. i'm off the wagon or on, but i'm not playing these days. >> rose: at this moment you're not playing. >> at this moment i'm not, but it will come back. >> rose: it will definitely come back. let's talk about politics, then fthat is the central core. what's interesting to me-- this is the number one book in the country-- and it is a collection
of what you have written over three decades. i mean, this is looking back, and it obviously says something i would assume you would believe about the good sense of the american people. but what else is it you think-- dwhat do you think the country s looking for and how it might be specific in the choice of this book? >> i do think that the country-- and this is sort of a theme that comes out- out in the book as wn the decades -- is trying to look for normal life. what i mean is this: we had 60 years of existential struggle, fascism, nazism, communism. it ends in a miraculous way. christmas day, 1991, communism. they disappear. i never imagined i'd live to see the end of the soviet union. i never imagined. it happens without -- >> rose: do you think it happened because gorbachev chose
not to fight? >> no. it happened because the system was inherently impossible. it completely contradicted human nature. all the incentives were wrong. it began as a militant ideology. it ended as a husk of cynicism. >> rose: clearly it failed because of a superior idea, which is freedom. >> in the end it had to fail. >> rose: we'll never know how long it might have taken if in fact there was the struggle that led to-- >> gorbachev was the passive vessel. >> rose: right. >> reagan, thatcher, cole, john paul, the heroic pope, they were the ones who pushed it. it turned're turned out history has taught us-- and that i write about in the book-- you needed the push, you needed the pressure, you need all of that. >> rose: you needed the active. >> you needed the active or it wouldn't have gone away on its own. it did. as you said, it surrender. there was no way it could
compeel peat. it couldn't justify envelope its own eyes. q. could you look at a moment,ml down? >> no, it was the inexorable pressure-- it began with truman, and the containment theory enunciated, in the end, if we put pressure on the system it will internally either reform and become okay, or collapse. and it collapsed. it tried to reform, but it was corrupted in its core. it couldn't reform. so the pressure began with truman. but in the end, when they were tottering, when they had reached actually the apgee, soviet empire reached its apgee at the end of 1979, iran had become anti-american, it took over in nicaragua, it it took over in. cambodia, and the empire was overstretched and the fall began but reagan was the one who
undermind it. the defense built up. the pressure of what was called the reagan doctrine, supporting all thyself insergencies against the soviet empire. strategic defense, the russians understood they could never compete with american technology. and in the end, i it was the rhetoric, the rhetoric that said this is an evil empire and we aren't afraid to say it, ands as dissidents in the gulag heard the word, and that gave them life, energy, and hope. and that's what brought it down. >> rose: look at america today. i mean, if you look at that history you just talked about. where do you think we are as we have gone from reagan forward? >> we're trying to find our way. america is this incredibly reluctant accidental hedge mon. we're the only imperial power in history that never sought an empire. the british did, the dutch did,
the portuguese did. we developed ourselves-- quite isolationists -- and what happens? europe which dominates the world commits suicide in the two world bars and what's left standing. us and the russians. one day we wake up, 1991, december 26, soviets are gone. we are left dominant in the world, and i write about this in one of the essays-- we are the most dominant power on that day of any power since the fall of rome. and the question has been ever since what do we do with this status? >> rose: there are those who say and argue brzezinski being one, that we missed opportunity between then and the iraqi war to do a lot of things and to use that unique advantage we have. do you find any resonance in
that argument? >> well, not exactly sure what they have in mind that we were supposed to do. the first thing that we did-- and i write about this in the book about the 90s-- the 90s were a holiday from history. the first thing that we sought was repose. and we deserved it. 60 years of struggle against fascism and nazism. we were exhausted morally. we had won, and i think it was wellington who once said nothing other than a battle lost is as melancholy as a battle won. so we win and we say the peggy lee line, is that all there's?" so the 90s were a holiday from history where we basically said we had extraordinary peace and prosperity. there were no challenges to us of any substance, and we took a nice quiet ride-- there's a column in the book about a speech i gave to my son's high school in 1997.
i tried to explain to them that we were living in a golden age. this was extremely unusual-- peace, prosperity, no challenges, no threats. this is very rare in history. now, i didn't want to tell them because it would have been child abuse that it's got to end, but i wrote in the column because adults would read the column. and i wrote in 1997-- i have this sense-- golden ages always end. the only question is does it end in ice or in fire? and we know how it ended. it ended in fire o9/11. and we woke up. we realized history isn't over. we have existential enemies out there again. we didn't choose it, just like we never chose to be dominant and hegemonic. we didn't choose it, but they came after us and we now have a new challenge. history tars again and by history i mean great struggles that will last a generation -- >> rose: between whom?
>> between the west and decency and islamic rad cammism and depaffity. i'll tell you why i use that it word. in the last few months, there has been a campaign in pakistan in the swat valley by the taliban, they have been killing polio workers. >> rose: that's right. >> now, when you have an ideology that drives you to kill people who are trying to prevent paralysis in children, there is no word that i can use other than depravity. this is a basharous ideology that threatens the world. >> rose: do you think that represents islam today? >> absolutely not. >> rose: it's corrupt by radical and fundamental-- >> i agree, but i think the president's reticence and hesitancy to say the words, "islammic radicalism" he's
afraid by using that adjective it will tarnish all of islam. i don't understand that. i don't see why you can't express respect for islam as a great religion and the overall majority of muslims in the world, and at the same time say there is a corrupt and diseased and depraved element, a militant element that kills polio workers in pakistan, and that a month before 9/11, the taliban sent their troops out to the desert-- i talk about this in the introduction-- and using machine guns and dynamite they blew up the two-- the magnificent statues of buddha. now, what had the buddha done to offend islam? >> rose: look what happened in cambodia, the kinds of things that took place in cambodia when a group of radicals tried to change society, change everything that had ever been--
>> that's exactly the point i want to make. >> rose: and destroyed human life in unprecedented ways. >> that's the point i want to make. every once in a while these radical ideologies arise that want to remake human nature, want to remake society -- >> rose: and they're prepared to do everything to make it happen. >> empty the cities and kill anything that stands in the way. and the terrible event in our history is that we thought they3 fight was over with the fall of communism. we go to sleep for a decade. we wake up on 9/11 and discover it's back in a different guise. >> rose: it was not the end of history. >> exactly. history returned and it is painful. >> rose: most of the eight years coming after the decline was within a democratic control of the executive office in the presence of bill clinton. >> and i would say looking back historically he handled it reasonably well. we weren't sure how to use our
new status. and clinton used it to rescue the people in kosovo. he used it to rescue the people of bosnia. but there were no grand adventures because there was no grand provocation. there was no grand mission. and domestically he did what you would do. you tend to your vineyards and the economy was a prosperous one. so i think he had a reasonably good tenure. but it was not-- i think he has even said that history never challenged him the way it did other presidents. >> rose: he said it and meas he's bemoaned it to a agree saying he-- he didn't want war but he didn't have things that were changed by the nature of the event. >> and it denied him a chance at greatness. >> rose: he essentially had-- he certainly feels it.
but he was there during that period to be succeeded by george bush. when you look back at bush 41-- 43, and iraq, afghanistan, what's your judgment? >> i think the virtue of his presidency was he immediately understood the return of history. and he immediately leveled with the american people. we were in a new struggle. a long struggle, a generational struggle. it was not just a bunch of guys running around in airplanes. this was an ideology implanted in the world that we had treated up until now as a law enforcement issue. when there was the attack on the "cole" in 2000, we sent f.b.i. agents into yemen as a way to respond. that is not the way to respond. this is not a burglary. this is war -- >> rose: i might take issue with that a little bit. they always send f.b.i. amies in to investigate to see some of
the circumstances of those-- >> when somebody attacks a u.s. warship -- >> rose: that's an act of war. >> and of that's an act of war and you might want to send in f.b.i. but you want to send in something else. after 9/11 you sent in something else. here's the dilemma-- bush was right to go into afghanistan and oppose the taliban, no question. bush was right to depose saddam hussein. >> rose: even if it meant distraction from the war in afghanistan? >> the war in afghanistan, the war to depose the taliban and scatter al qaeda took about 100 days. the war in iraq to depose saddam took three weeks. the dilemma that we had afterwards is what do you do? we're very good at destroying regimes. we can do it at a distance. we can do it quickly, and relatively speaking historically cheaply. but then what you do you do? our choices were install a new
dictator and leave. our choices were let them have their own forms of government, which is not likely to happen because they're at war with each other. and we took the third option. we're going to try to change the nature of the regime and society, hoping by democratization, or just some kind of decent representative government we'll create an ally and be able to have an example in the region. and that turned out to be fatally difficult in iraq, and probably impossible in afghanistan and why we're leaving. and that was our dilemma, but the choices were not good. >> rose: we are looking at a circumstance today in which president obama's approval ratings are about where president bush's were at their lowest. bush was at 35, obama as we speak b38, 39. and the-- the bush approval ratings were a product of iraq. >> and katrina. >> rose: and katrina.
one spoke to competence, one spoke to i guess competence, too, in terms of judgment, and whether that was a war of necessity, a war of choice, and if it was a war of choice, was it the wrong choice because of what did it mean? but that was it to be followed by barack obama, who comes in-- and i would think be a man that you would admire for intellect, for style, for a family. >> i would add one quality, which is that he was ideologically honest, open, and bold about how ideologically ambitious he was. he comes into office, and five weeks in, he delivers an address to a joint session of congress which most americans don't remember because most americans have a real life and they do real stuff. >> rose: yes. >> i have to watch this guy
every day and every night, and, obviously, my sins are many, so i remember it well. this was the most radically-- what i would call social democratic or liberal left speech and program of any president in -- >> rose: what made it that? >> he said essentially, "i came here not to reform around the edges, unspoken like a clinton. i came here to fundamentally change america, unspoken, like a reagan" obama once said in '08, ronald reagan was historically consequential in a way that clinton was not. >> rose: to the great displeasure of bill clinton when he heard that. >> he did it to get the clinton quite riled. but there was also historical truth -- >> rose: he didn't say that in a speech. he said it on the radio. >> and it's actually quite true. reagan changed the ideological
trajectory of america after 50 years of f.d.r., l.b.j., the great society, the new deal, of this liberal incomes, reagan within 10 minutes declares government isn't the solution. it's the problem. that's a radical rejection of new deal liberalism. and he succeeds to the point where clinton says in the state of the union address in 1996-- he accepts the premise -- >> rose: i'm not even sure that had to do with philosophy. that had to do with political reality. he realized what had just happened, so he could see the obvious. >> it's true, but then he followed it up by the abolition of welfare. it wasn't only speech. it was action. >> rose: some suggested if he had done welfare first rather than do health care he would have been in a much better place, including daniel patrick moynihan. >> but the point of abolishing welfare was he showed in practice he would be willing to accept the premises of reaganism. it is unageable obama would
abolish welfare as he did. so you have a 30-year conservative ascendanciy, and obama says i'm here to end it. i'm here to restart the new deal, the great society. it was a series of speeches. it began on the 24th of february, 2009. it ended-- there were five speeches-- ended at georgetown in april. and they were all about what he was going to do. "i'm going to change america" he said. and then he was quite specific. he wasn't abstract about it, in three areas -- >> rose: is it a valid notion that i'm going to change america if we have so x number of people not getting medical character i'm going to try to find a means of making sure that we don't have 30 million or 40 million people without access to insurance or access to medical coverage. and if it's destroying families, that's not an america you want. you want to figure out a better way to do it. then you can argue over the better way to do it. >> here's the problem.
had he been a normal liberal, a clip tonian liberal, he would have said exactly that and then devised a program-- let's say increasing the level at which anybody is eligible in medicare, that would cover all of the uninsured. you could do it in a bill that would be one page long, and would affect nothing else in health care. and what does he do instead? he completely changes health care in america in every way in a bill that is 2,000 pages long that even today nobody quite understands the extent -- >> rose: suppose he did just what you said. what column-- he said, "look, i want to provide the kind of health care for all americans that medicare provides for americans over 65." would charles krauthammer have written a column saying here's a guy who understands a way to deliver a medical care to the american people that has been
tried and is successful in other places? >> if he had said, as you said, just a moment ago, i don't want to see 40 million americans who don't get health care, and i will provide a program that will do it with a simple stroke, i'm going to say the poverty level isn't enough to be eligible for medicare. but what is it, four times or whatever? and i'm going to include all of those. i would have supported it and i would have asked for a tax that would be dedicated-- it would be open, honest, and he would say to america, there is no free lunch. we're going to do this. >> rose: we have to pay for it. >> i would have added on to that radical tort reform because we are wasting half a trillion dollars a year in defensive medicine. i know it because i practiced it myself. and that was something that there's not a word of that in obamacare, not a word of that that everybody understands that we need. the reason that we have the most
expensive health care on the plan set because we have an insane malpractice system which causes doctors to do referrals, testing, and procedures that. >> -- so you would save the money on one side and i would devote it to ensuring the uninsured. but that's not obama. >> rose: you would have liked that idea. >> i think it's a human society, and a rich society would want to protect everyone from the lack of medical care. i would support that. i don't know if a lot of conservatives would but i would because i believe that's an element of life that's important. but the point i want to make is this-- obama is not an ordinary liberal. instead of doing it in a targeted way, he wrote himself a bill that changes a sixth of the american economy, that cancels the policies of up to now, what, five million americans? tens of millions in the future? that changes the requirements of health care-- that does everything, and why?
because he has a sense that government is the arbiter, ought to be the regulator of american life. and that's why i call him a different kind of liberal. and that's why i say he came to change america, not to patch it up and reform at the edges. >> rose: let's assume that he made the wrong choice and the american people seem to think he did, do you think that was a failure of competence or a failure of something else? a failure of ideology? >> it's a failure of candor. what he told america is i'm going to give you-- i'm going to insure 40 million new people. i'm going to give you free mammograms. free birth control. free this, free that. and what did he say? it will not cost the government a dime. now, if you're nine years old you understand that's impossible. so how is he going to do this? well, now we know, and the deception is the reason that his
numbers have collapsed and america has turned against obamacare. the deception was that they knew they would have to it kick tens of millions of americans off their plans into the exchanges where by law, they would be required to purchase plans that would include stuff they didn't need. i don't need lactation services. perhaps i did in the past. i don't need them right now. and they would be, therefore, overpaying, and the surplus would be used to subsidize others. the whole idea was to transfer wealth, using this system, so when obama promised it isn't as if he didn't know that the idea was to get people off their individual plans and now we're going to see thames of millions who are going to lose their employer insurance, and it will cause a transfer of wealth as a way to pay for it. they should have been honest about it and say there isn't a free lunch? >> rose: he was dishonest
because he couldn't deliver on his promise so, therefore, effectively, in the midst of a campaign, he lied. >> i don't like the word "lie." >> rose: i know you don't, but why don't you? >> because the word "lie" is a word that implies that it was sort of a maliciousness behind it. i think it was a-- like a politician acts, as a way to soften the blow to make people think that this is going to be painless, thinking, but you see, the part i don't understand is because he's a highly intelligent man. doesn't he know that at the end of the day, the deception is going to be revealed? didn't he know when the cancellation of policies begins, people are going topped, the reason that my policy is canceled is because he needs me in the pool to subsidize other people. >> rose: how do you explain that? >> i can't. i do think it's-- it's a political error that's so colossal that i can't quite get
my hands around it. i do think he thought maybe if we get it in, once i pass it, we'll work it out down the road, and he does have a very high opinion of his political skills. he must have thought, look, i was elected from nowhere, defeating the clinton machine. i've been twice re-elected to the presidency. so when i run into these issues in the future, i'll work my way around it. i don't see how he can. >> rose: and, therefore, you think that obamacare, the affordable care act, will fail and because it fails it is one of the colossal political mistakes of recent time, and, therefore, it means that liberalism of a certain kind will collapse with it and it will be a long time before this country is prepared to address such a huge problem with such a huge government program. >> i agree with every word of that. >> rose: that's what you believe. >> i do believe that. >> rose: cutbut define more
what you believe. >> i'll explain it. i don't necessarily think that this has to fail. i think it is extremely likely that it will. so let's assume that it will. and i think it's going to be ironic. in the end it's going to be democrats who bring it down. democrats in senate, and in the house who are now running scared because of what's happening with their constituents. >> rose: there's an election around the corner. >> if it's democrats who bring it down it's going to be a complete humiliation. and what it will do is tell people that obama is not the kind of incremental liberal that you saw with which the who historically speaking had a successful two terms. obama is a man who reached for a kind of european kind, social democratic government-run health care. in fact, what was the argument the liberals at the time were making when they were trying to get obamacare passed? they said we were the only advanced democracy on the planet that cannot have guaranteed health care, a form of national
health care, and we have to join the ranks. i do believe-- and i've always believed-- that obama-- and i believe it from the day of that fateful speech he made to a joint session of congress-- that obama is a social democrat on the european model. it was sold in some quarters as simply an attempt to insure the uninsured. but it's ambitious-- his ambitions are far beyond that. it sets a new standard of health insurance for everybody. it requires a prevention. it sets a new ratio of how much the old and the young pay in premiums. it sets whole new schedules. it has whole new commissions and it's going to end up probably in a kind of rationing. it's remaking how health care is delivered. it wasn't only insuring the uninsured. if it were, as i've explained to you, i would have agreed with it in principle and tried to find a reasonably narrow way, small-government way of addressing it. >> rose: right. >> it is that everything has changed. is there one aspect of medicine, is there a doctor or a hospital
or a patient in america who isn't affected? and that's what's wrong with this. >> rose: i assume you weren't crazy about a fee-based system. >> well, it started out in that way, and we have to find a way to reform it, or to create the competition that would keep it in check. >> rose: there's also this notion-- and you write eloquently about foreign policy, too-- and we have had come up three things in play mainly in the middle east-- and we can leave china out of this conversation because of where that relationship is-- but-- and there's a society that's also trying to deal with some reform as well in part for corruption reasons and in part for other reasons. but look at palestinian-israeli negotiations set in motion by john kerry. look at iran negotiations which may very well have some interim agreement, and what you think about that. and then look at syria, where you now have the united states
and russia trying to create a system in which they get the chemical weapons out of syria and figure out some system for a negotiated arrangement for the future of syria. how do you analyze this president in those significant areins? >> the israeli-palestinnian negotiations are a fraud. they're going nowhere. er understands it. and i guarantee you there will be no issues from this. the negotiations with iran, i think, are terribly flawed, and if the interim agreement is concluded as is being described, it will conothing to stop the iranians in the march to acquire nuclear weapons, and it will begin relieving sanctions, which have been the only instrument of even getting them -- >> rose: will it delay, do you think? >> by less than a month. >> rose: really? >> it will have no -- >> rose: essentially you accept the argument of prime minister netanyahu.
>> essentially i accept the argument that if the only thing that brought the iranians to negotiate in the first place was tremendously serious and deep cutting sanctions, then the worst thing to do right now is to relieve the sanctions rather than increasing them. and to relieve them in return for an interim offer which includes nothing of substance. there's not a single change in the infrastructure of the iranian nuclear program. there is no reduction in the number of centrifuges or in the construction of them. and if you don't, iran remains a threshold -- >> rose: do you believe the sanctions-- and understanding how damning they have been to the iranian economy-- will-- would have-- if nothing had happened-- would have prevented the iranians have getting a nuclear capacity? >> i believe that the only chance of the iranians giving up
the bomb is if the mul the mulls believe the regime itself is being threatened. they're getting near that point, which is why they're negotiating. >> rose: why do we know that? >> that's why they're at the table. >> rose: okay, they're at the table, but we don't know-- you know. >> there is no other outside event which would explain why for a decade they stonewalledwad and had contempt for any negotiation and now they're trying -- >> rose: well, there's a new administration there. >> but the new administration is subordinate to an ayatollah. all i want to say is if the sanctions are really causing the pain and the threat to the regime itself, then the logical thing to do is to increase the sanctions and to stop them only if you get cessization of the program and not a hint of this or two which will conothing to actually stop it.
>> rose: here we have the israeli-palestinnian conversations which will go nowhere. you believe an interim agreement is not in the u.s. interest. >> right. >> rose: and then there's syria. you believe what? >> there is a curious paradox in the syria situation. the problem with syria is that it is the linchpin of iranians' colonies if you like in the arab world. you have a shiite cressent. iran is a threat to the gulf states, to the sunni states, to the egyptians. they are quaking in their boots. the gulf arabs are so afraid of a nuclear weapon that i guarantee you that if the israelis ever attack, they're going to go over saudi territory, and they're going to be flares on the ground with arrows in saudi arabia, saying this way to tehran. i mean, the saudis are really afraid that america's withdrawing -- >> rose: --
>> the iranians are the hegemonic-- if you like, they are sort of the mini equivalent of what the soviets were in the cold war. they are of the have-not power. they want to overturn the sunni dominance in the arab world. and syria is linchpin. and the regime in syria if it were to go it would be a blow to the iranians that would be extremely serious. it would set them back. would be the first real defeat of the aggressiveness into the world, the push into the arab world, since the revolution of '79, and assad was teetering and tottering. the united states did essentially nothing. after wait a couple of years consensus the jihadis have come in on the rebel side, and assad-- now, what happened with obama's red line is that by declaring it, shifting around, zigzagging, he ended up working-- i think working out a deal that will probably be okay
on the chemical weapons. but in return what he did, is he legitimized-- he recognized and he essentially stabilized the regime in syria which keeps intact this aggressive sort of archipelago of iranian subordinate states which is a remaining threat to the region and we will regret that for many years to come. >> rose: a means for the iranians to find access to hezbollah and weapons and that kind of thing. >> rose: exactly. >> rose: at the beginning of the obama administration, george wil, four five days before the administration, you were there at george's house,aise remember, and prg conservativees, neoconservatives were there. tell me then-- then recently there was a three-hour session. >> at the white house. >> rose: at the white house. so how is your perception of him changed from that meeting before the administration began and
then the three-hour session that took place recently? >> the perception i've had of him as a man remains unchanged. >> rose: which is? >> highly intelligent, personable. socratic in the way he deals with issues. i was very impressed when we met before the inauguration. we tossed every question you could at him from monetary policy to foreign policy. and what he would do is sort of restate your premise-- if it was a conservative one-- in an honest way-- it wasn't a tendentious way-- state his premise and sort of look for a common area of understanding. the way a professor would in answering a question in the classroom. it wasn't ideological. it wasn't adhom then, and wasn't partisan. so i was quite impressed with the method and what seemed an intellectual openness. and i have to say one of the reasons i've been disappointed in him is i have seen that side of him in an off-the-record
session, so i know he's not only capable of that, but that's sort of part of who he is. so when he would go around campaigning years later and not each giving credit to conservatives for having cared for the country or having a principle that would be one that would be opposed to what a liberal would believe but would be an honest and sincere one, he'd going around saying the other guys, they care only about power and not policy, only about party and not nation. they care only about the next election, and not the next generation. i know that in his heart that's not something he believes. he understand the conservative argument, and he gave it some respect, perhaps it was a fake. but i don't think so. it seemed genuine. but when he gets out there campaigning when he wants to achieve something, he's willing to denigrate the other side in a way that i'm not sure he believes. so i've. >> rose: all this proves to me is he's a politician. >politician.
go ahead. >> that is true, but on the other hand you don't see the kind of politicians that have the ease and smoothness he does with idea ideas and what seems e an understanding of the other side he presented. he did it again when i saw him a month or two ago. that's what always impressed me. there's nothing about him to dislike personally. and he has an exemplary family life and incredible history and story. i think he was a man over his head in the white house. >> rose: it was competence and experience. not competence that can't be gained with experience. >> he's had a lot of experience -- >> rose: in the toughest job in the world. >> but he still ended up with this train wreck where he is right now, so i'm not sure -- >> rose: were you wrong about him in any early judgments you made? >> the judgment i made of him when he was running in 2008 was that he was an ideological chameleon. you remember the appointments he made in the transition of
volcker, a guy who collaborated with reagan -- >> rose: do you know the volcker melt has not been passed in terms of regulation. >> he put in coal ver, a larry summers. he kept bob gates, the republican conservative -- >> rose: who was an admirer of the president. >> yes. >> rose: and he had clinton as secretary of state. there was nothing radical at all about his appointments. so it seemed to be as if he was trying to send a signal that he's going to be a kind of clipp tonian left of center politician and i think he deviated from that in the speech he made, i'm going to change america in health care, energy, and education. health care is a sixth of the economy, education is the future, and energy, if you control the production and the pricing as you would with cap and trade, is the sip use -- >> rose: but same we are on the verge of becoming energy independent. we on theerg o the verge of beit
energy exporter. >> yes, despite his administration. the reason we have had the explosion is because of the technological advances, fracking. all the increase in gas and oil has been on state lands and private lands. >> rose: let me ask you this then, attendance analysis of barack obama. we'll see what happens in the midterm elections which may make it more difficult. if health care is a dominant issue, he could be looking at a republican senate and house. >> and then he's a lame duck. >> rose: if he's not already. what's at issue now is credibility. and that's worst thing you could lose. >> exactly. >> rose: who would you-- if you were given the great upon option of choosing the next president -- it's not anything to be an looks charles krauthammer has been give wine god, whoever chooses to make the choice, who would you choose? who would be good?
>> let me just say-- i'll say it right here-- if nominated i will not run. but if elected, charlie, i will serve. i'm just lazy. i don't want to go to the iowa state fair. >> rose: ho would you choose a scientist? would you choose a politician. would you choose a governor. would you choose someone who is the brightest person you've ever encountered? who would you choose? >> i would put it in these terms. this is a center-right country. i think that's what it is intrinsically. i think if you find someone on the conservative side, the republican side, who can explain and make the case for limited government but compassionate limited government in the sense what we want is a safety net society. we don't want an entitlement society. again, america and europe, conservativeatism, and obama-ism, if you make that case, you win the white house. you win the country. and if you govern in that way, i think you will help the country.
>> rose: you are beginning to see on the parts of some speaking to that idea of compassion and a safety net. >> compassion is a word that has been corrupted by the bush administration. but the safety net-- we have a humane obligation. we're a humane society. we're the most generous people in the history of the world. we do not want to see the elderly live in destitution or orphans thrown in the snow despite what liberals imagine. we have an obligation. but we have to do it intelligently, and we have to do it in a way that will not bankrupt the country. that's the mission of a conservative government right now. >> rose: you think that's what we'll see? >> i think there's a very good chance that the pendulum will swing the other way. if you go back to 1953, every time one party's had the white house for two terms-- with only one exception-- that's reagan,
every time -- >> rose: changed parties. >>s toed out on its rear end. >> and people thought bush was an extension of reagan. >> a grateful nation gave him one more term. >> rose: because we have been talking about these kinds of things, one last question, we're looking back at 50 years after the assassination of j.f.k. where do you put him? because he had some of the conservatives values in foreign policy that you reflect. he made two brilliant speeches on civil rights and american university, about america's role in the world. >> he-- he-- he inspired the country. , as i said earlier. we do these things because they're hard, not because they're easy. i think that was the greatest achievement to, make us do something we wouldn't have ordinarily done. look, kennedy confidence a president of great promise. >> rose: promise. >> and the tragedy is we will never know. the practice of his presidency, the actual achievements were fairly minor.
i think they were inflated as a result of his martyrdom, which is completely understandable. but i don't think we can judge him on the scale of others. he with three years in office. if he had eight years we could speak of him in relation to other important presidencies. as of now, it was interrupted, and in a sense it was the johnson presidency, the johnson, the one who gave us the civil rights, who gave us the war on poverty -- >> rose: because he was a master tactician. >> he was a successor. >> the book is called "things that matter: three decades of passions, . if you look on the back, there are recommendations from george will, who in his own imfilmitable sale says in today's cacophony, krauthammer's generals stand out and test the stand of time.
literature has been calls news that lasts. krauthammer's columns take journalism to the level. perhaps that is why this is the number one bestseller on the "new york times" nonfiction list. "things that matter" by charles krauthammer. thank you for joining us. on the next charlie rose, nathan nerveil, his book is called the photography of modernist cuisine.
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