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tv   Things That Matter  CSPAN  December 25, 2013 11:45pm-12:56am EST

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when they make trips to iowa, you know, this is not for show. there's work gong on there. one of the things we argue about romney was it was clear there was not, you know, and overwhelming amount of enthusiasm for him in the republican party, but in other candidate came close to getting the support he was able to get from other party leaders, and when candidates made a run at him, you know, party leaders reacted either with deafening silence or on the record criticism. i think from the perspective of chris christie or ted cruz, the work now is important ground work for how well you do in the iowa caucus and beyond. >> the coauthor of "the gamble: choice and chance in the 2012 presidential election". >> in things that matter, charles presents writings on
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various social and political issues including limited government, feminism, and the death penalty. he spoke about his book at the george w. bush library and museum in texas. this is just under an hour. [pause in captioning to change captioners] >> good evening, everyone. [applause] and happy birthday mrs. bush. [applause] it was a great personal pleasure for me because we've known each other now for 32 years. i was briefly charles' employer. charles krauthammer has written
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a fantastic book, come pielation of the columns and, plus, a marvelous introduction. i know one thing is that compilations never sell. charles' book is number one on amazon and will debut as no. 2 in nonfiction on the "new york times" best seller list this sunday. [applause] he's ahead of john grishman and bill o'reilly and rush, you name it, charles. charles was born in new york city, raised in montreal, went to mcgill, and after that, he was a commonwealth scholar at oxford; then went to harvard medical school, and he was a psychiatrist practicing for three years with the chef resident in massachusetts general hospital. briefly, went to work for president carter, was a speech
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writer for vice president mondale in the presidential campaign, and i got to meet him when he came not new republic in early 1981, and at the time, the new republic, if i may say so, was -- it was the golden age. charles was there, and mike kensley and rick and what was interesting about it, at least to me, is that you had a group of people who had different ideas and frequently fought over them, but it was not a monolith. at any rate, charles won the national magazine award for commentary in 1984, a very coveted prize for anybody who is a magazine writer, and then in 1985 wrote for the washington post as a columnist. within two years, he won a pulitzer prize for commentary. since then, he continued to write for the "washington post,"
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and what he taught me as an aspiring columnist was that write one column a week. it's hard to do more than that. even one is not size sigh. jeff called him the most powerful force in american conservatism, and i think that's an accurate description. david brooks called him the most important conservative columnist. you're going to hear from him tonight, and we'll have charles speak, questions from the floor, save up the questions. you're in for a real treat. charles krauthammer. [applause] >> thank you, james. honored to be here, thank you for being here, mr. president, mr. bush. there are nice introductions and there are kind introductions. a nice introduction is where they say all the nice stuff about you, list your
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achievements, transscribed and notarized, and they send your mother a copy. a kind introduction is where they leave stuff out. [laughter] despite your intentions, that was an unkind introduction because you included two things that i now have to explain. [laughter] first, there's a mondale thing. [laughter] yes it's true, and how do you go from walter to fox news. the answer's simple. i was young once. there's the psychiatrist part. i have to explain it. it is true i was a psychiatrist. actually, tech technically spea, i still am, but in reality, i'm a psychiatrist in remission doing very well, thank you. [laughter] i have not had a relapse in 25 years. [laughter] of course, i'm asked to compare what i do today as a political
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analyst in washington with what i used tuesday -- used to do as a psychiatrist in boston. it's not that different. i deal every day with people who suffer from pair know ya and delusions of grander. the only difference is the pair -- paranoids in washington have access to nuclear weapons, present company excluded. [laughter] making the stakes higher and the work a little more interesting. i'm really honored and delighted to be here at the bush library to have seen the bush's. happy to be among you, but truth be told, i'm happy to be anywhere where juan williams can't interrupt me. [laughter] [applause] i'll be sure to tell him how you feel. [laughter] i want to say how much i appreciate mr. president, what you did for the nation at the
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moment of maximum danger. you were clear linedded, straightforward, and rallied the nation against a new barberrism ennever afraid to use that word or idea managing to recognize islam as a great religion while at the same time seeing no contradiction in denouncing and rallying the nation to fight the perverted branch of islam that attackedded us on 9/11. i wrote at the time and believe to this day that history will treat you like harry truman, recognizing the depths of achievement and creating the very infrastructure that will carry us through this war on basherrism. we have seen this today in a kind of back handed tribute to you as though who so criticized you during the eight years, the very people who did criticize you in those eight years, when
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they came to power, they adopted the very same tools that you bequeathed to them, and that you and your administration had created exme low in a moment of national confusion and danger. just as truman did in his day providing the infrastructure, the tools, and the institutions that carried us through the cold war in those days and will carry us through this war in this general ration. if i can just repeat what i said to you in private, but i'd like to say in public that i spoke to my wife earlier today. she asked me to convey to you her admiration and respect for what you did for our country with steadiness of your voice, depth of devotion to the country and determination to see things through even when you were nearly alone. now, i know i'm supposed to be selling books, but i just had to say that first.
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especially -- [applause] especially the wife part. [laughter] otherwise, when i get home tomorrow night, i'll be sleeping on the couch. so -- [laughter] now about the book. i had to say the thing about the wife because otherwise i'd be sleeting on the couch. conclusi- [laughter] no, that was just a test. i wanted to see whether i'd get the kind of applause that clinton got at the '88 convention when after 50 minutes he used those words, and the place erupted not just in applause, but in celebration. that laugh --
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[laughter] but i digress. [laughter] about the book. the book is several things. the first thing, because it does span my career as a journalist going all the way back to, as jim said, 1981. in fact, i started on the day that ronald reagan was sworn into the presidency. it's a chronicle of the last three decades, and those three decades are historically a time of enormous fascination which it was my privilege to witness and to comment on. the '80s, the reagan revolution and the last days of the cold war, the '90s, our holiday from history. the 2000s, the beginning of the age of holy terror. and for the last half decade, this week is the fifth anniversary of the winning of the president i by barack obama -- presidency by barack obama. barack obama and the rise of a
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new kind, a new, more ambitious and i might even say radical kind of american liberalism. regarding the '80s, i think the one column that sort of captures it the best is the one in which bill clinton says during his presidency when we look back on that era -- he meant the cold war era -- and and we long for a, i made a crack the other day. i said, gosh, i miss the cold war. it was a joke. i mean, i didn't want really miss it, but you get the joke. and the point was that we had this myth created after conservativism in the decade over the '80s, utterly destroyed and undid what was left of the soviet empire of commune ill. this myth -- communism. this myth that there was a great national consensus on how to confront the soviets. now, there was in the '50s and the '60s, but it dissolved after the vietnam era. and there was a great division
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in the country. and the '80s were distinguished by the fact that there was a total breakdown of that consensus. and i write about that in the column because jim had mentioned in the introduction that "the new republic," this was a liberal magazine. it was the would be of contention between me and, well, essentially, everybody else on the magazine because i began to support publicly and in the writing many of the things that reagan did. essentially, the things that he did that won the cold war. and we have these huge arguments internally, but i ended up writing a lot of the unsigned editorials that began with the democrats falling and swooning for this hysteria over the nuclear freeze. and i wrote the unsigned editorial attacking the freeze rather mercilessly. and what i like the west about it is that -- the best about it is that i found out at the next editorial meeting that it causes the largest number of cancellations in the history of the magazine. [laughter] jim will remember that.
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of which i was rather proud. [laughter] you may also remember, jim, that at that very same session given the bitterness and the anger and the volume of the letters that came in attacking us and me in particular, that we should choose someone to read all the letters every week to choose the worst, most vitriolic one and to cancel that person's subscription. [laughter] i wanted to do it without a refund, but the business side was not very happy about that. but the point was, and this helped to move me from left to right, was the fact that the democrats vociferously opposed every step in the reagan foreign policy agenda that we now know empirically helped to bring down the soviet union. and that was both the issue of the nuclear -- resisting the freeze, the demonstrations in the street, the deployment of missiles to counter the soviet missiles that they had imposed in eastern europe, the reagan doctrine which helped reverse the terms of the cold war and,
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finally, the idea of the missile defense which has the one great advantage to us today and at the time so scared the soviets that it really led to their giving up on the race with us in the cold war. and realizing they had no chance of winning. which led to the most remarkable event of our lifetime, an event of biblical proportions, which was the collapse of the soviet union and the conquest of communism without a shot fired. and that was sort of the core of the 980s -- 1980s, that is what history will remember the '80s for. and again, as i say, i write in the introduction of the book in trying to trace my evolution from left to right that was the essence of my leaving the democratic party, because you remember a lot of young people today do not. in the 1970s there was a very
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strong conservative element in the democratic party. they were known as national security democrats or cold war liberals in the tradition of truman, kennedy, humphrey and scoop jackson who happened to have been my great political hero in my 20s, in my youth. in facting when scoop -- in fact, when scoop ran for the nomination in 1976, he ran in the massachusetts democratic primary. i was a doctor at the time at the mass general, and i handed out leaflets. now, jackson won the massachusetts primary. i handed out a lot of leaflets. [laughter] but as you know, of course, he didn't win the nomination. and that was because despite the fact that he was a wonderful human being, very smart and had the right policies, i hate to say this, but he was exceedingly dull. and it was said of scoop jackson that if he ever gave a fireside chat, the fire would go out. [laughter]
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i sure knew how to pick winners back then. [laughter] the other -- i go on in the book to talk about the '90s, of course, to write about the '90s, and here's what was the most remarkable thing about the '90s. nothing happened. [laughter] nothing world historical happened. i was aware of the absence of things happening in a way that almost scared me. what i mean to say is the great ideological struggles, existential struggles of the century stopped overnight. christmas 1991, there is no soviet union. i never imagined that i would live to see the end of the soviet union. and here it happened overnight, quietly in the night. and we have a decade of unrivaled prosperity and peace, and i was acutely aware that
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this is not normal in history. i wrote about it, there's a column in the book called "the golden age." i gave a speech to my son's high school in 1997, and i tried to explain to them that we were living in an incredibly anomalous and magnificent time of profound peace and prosperity, of no existential threat at all around the world, and i tried to impress upon them how unusual this was. of course; i failed utterly. they had never experienced anything other than that, and they thought this was as natural as the air you breathe. but i had this terrible sense -- it's a wonderful sense, but a terrible sense at the same time -- that this golden age couldn't last. they never do. you go back to all the golden ages back to the greeks, they're always short. and i was seized with this intense feeling that it had to end, and we should enjoy it, but
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that we should not expect it. because this is not what history normally is. so even though i didn't tell the crass that it was going to end, after all, that would have been child abuse -- [laughter] you guys are having a good time, i'm not going to tell you -- but i wrote, because i write for adults, that this had to. and i wrote it in the column called "the golden age. "and the only question was how soon would it come, and would it end by fire or by ice? and ask we know how it ended, it ended in fire on 9/11. and that signaled to us that something had happened, something new, something terrible. another column that's in the book is the column i wrote that amp. it was in the post -- in the afternoon. it was in the post the next morning, and the problem i had writing it was not the pressure of time, but the pressure of rage. i was trying to write in a way where i would be able to contain it to actually write coherent
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sentences one after the other. and the point i tried to make in that column and i put it in the book for that reason, is that i could feel the historic paradigm changing. it was history returning. returning with a vengeance. and what i mean by history is the kind of existential struggle that is the norm in history. not the 1990s, which were the exception. that we had now returned overnight in a flash without asking for it, without inviting it, simply because we were the great power that we were. we had returned to the time of the great existential struggles. it was the new -- this was the new face of what was once fascism, naziism and communism. and that because of that, everything had to change. and that sort of was the essence of decade. and as i said earlier in my talk, i think that we were lucky to have a president who
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understood that and courageously explained that to us and took us into that fight. finally, there's the last half decade which is of equal historic fascination. and that is the age of barack obama. obama is interesting because he's not just a liberal. well, you know what a liberal is. a liberal is somebody who doesn't care what you do as long as it's mandatory. [laughter] which until thursday was a joke. [laughter] when jay carney tried to exlain why when -- explain why when your health insurance is taken away from you, this is actually a good thing. [laughter] and he actually said that you can choose any health plan you want so long as it's the health plan that the government has mandated. which is the joke in this real
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life. there is no way to make this stuff up. so that it exceeds irony. [laughter] but obama isn't even a liberal. he's a social democrat, and this i argued from -- he gave a speech to a joint session of congress a month after his inauguration in which he explained who he was, he dropped the mask. he'd been in the '08 election, he was a rorschach test. but now he explained exactly who he was. he'd been in office for a month, there was no need for the veil. he said i'm not a clinton, i'm here to change america, and he went ahead and explained exactly how he was going to do it. trillion dollar stimulus, the largest spending bill in galactic history, and then he followed it with obamacare which is a revolution in one-sixth and a takeover of a sixth of the american economy. which to me, and i wrote at the time before he enacted all of this, made ima social democrat on the european model. very unusual for the united states.
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people ask me, well, what's a social democrat? the only way to explain it is with a famous anecdote about winston churchill. the labour party leader, the socialist becomes prime minister. churchill's leader of the opposition. one day he goes down to the men's room in the house of commons, and there standing alone at one of the urinals is -- [inaudible] don't worry, that's as weird as it gets. [laughter] churchill goes all the way to the other end of the men's room to a urinal 15 stalls over, and adelaide is puzzled. feeling a bit standoffish, are we, winston? churchill says, not at all. it's just that every time you see something large, you want to nationalize it. [laughter] i kind of like that one too. [laughter]
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you know, i'm not even sure it's true. it could be be apocryphal, but i don't care. [laughter] as we say in the column-writing business, that story is too good to check. [laughter] it remains unchecked. but it's in the book, probably the only item that's unchecked. now, so i try to write about obama in that vein, trying to understand him as a social democrat. and the essence of the political half of the book is that obama represents this kind of, i would say, aggressive american liberalism and that in some way the debate that we've had over the last five years between left and right since obama came into office is, essentially, a debate over the classic, the fundamental issue of our democracy. and all the debates -- obamacare, cap and trade, the stimulus -- all of these things are subsidiary to the central
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question that has been at the heart of our politics ever since he was sworn in. and that is what is the proper size and scope and reach and province of government. or to put it slightly more grandly, what's the nature of the american experiment, and to put it in its grandest terms, we've been arguing about the relationship between citizen and state. and the one column that sort of addresses that the most directly is a column called did the state make you great. and remember, that came right after obama made the famous statement if you have a business and you've had success, you didn't build that, somebody else made it happen. i mean, that's a crystallization of the great argument between left and right. and i try to point out in the column obama said what was almost a platitude, you know? you don't operate alone, there are other people around. there's roads and bridges. the mistake that liberalism
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makes -- and here's the core, and it came out exactly in his explanation of this -- is that he identified society, what's outside of the individual, as government rather than recognizing that what really shapes the individual is what we call civil society. the independent, autonomous elements of society outside of government that have the post influence in shaping you -- the most influence in shaping you. that is the family, that's the church, that's the community, that's the pta. that's all the things that were talked about as the glory of america, the little platoons that others have talked about. and that is the essence and the glory and the protection of american liberty. because these institutions, civil society, are what stand between the citizen and the state. totalitarian society is one where they deliberately try to destroy all the intermediate institutions so that the
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individual is naked before the state and can be utterly controlled and manipulated. the stories of, you know, in stalinist rush that how the child would tell on the parents, turn them in because he loved stalin, and he became a child of the state. well, liberalism doesn't attempt to do that deliberately. its intentions, i believe, are honorable and good and very humane. but it does not understand that by increasing the scope and the reach and the power and the authority of the central state, it inevitably squeezes and come presses and marginalizes all those elements in civil society, particularly the family and then the church. you look at the side effects that obama's having on the relations of people with their churches. you look at the effect that welfare had on the family. one of the reasons i moved from left to right -- and i write about this in the introduction -- is that i had been a great society liberal.
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i believed in the intentions of the war on poverty. and then one day in the beginning of the 19 -- middle of the 1980s, the empirical evidence started to come in, real facts. and as a physician, as a scientist trained, i'm open to empirical evidence. if i give a patient a drug and it kills the patient, i stop giving the drug. and it turned out from charles murray and james q. wilson and researchers with very hard science behind them that the war on poverty not only did not help the people it was intending to help, but it undermined them and destroyed the communities. and then ironically, of course, the abolition of welfare in 1996 led to the quickest drop in child poverty in modern, in modern history. so that was sort of the event that had its greatest effect on me in moving left to right. but the point i want to make in the book and that i make in
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these essays, particularly the one about obama and did the state make you great is that they do not understand how their administrations have these effects on civil society and, ultimately, leave the individual naked before the state. it doesn't only harm the individual, but actually diminishes the liberty of the autonomy of the individual. because he has no other autonomous be institutions on which to attach himself up and against the state. so i write about this, and i i try to explain how i moved will left to right. and i do that in the introduction. i've never done that before in my writing, because i don't think i'm a particularly interesting subject. i try, actually, in every column to avoid the use of the word "i," but it's so easy and lazy that i use it a lot. the ideal column is the one in which you never use the word "i," and the argument will carry you right through without interjecting yourself. but nonetheless, i do believe people have a right to change
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politically. but i also believe that if you're in public life and you do change, you have an obligation to explain how it happened and why. and that's what i try to do in the book. and so the long answer for the question where i said about walter mondale being young, the long answer's in the book. and i try to explain these influences that had me move from left to right. of course, it wasn't an original path. it was trodden by -- well trodden by ronald reagan, among others. so that's sort of the heart of the book, the politics and a little bit of the biographical introduction. but there's one more thing that the book is about and that accounts for the title, and it accounts for the spirit of the book, if i can be so immodest as to talk about it. and that is the book is in some ways a kind of ode. muted by spirited to politics
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itself. this isn't a really good time in the history to be championing politics. particularly over the last six weeks or so. i won't go into detail about that. but it's, it hasn't been a prettyic church but -- pretty picture. but i write about this in the bro duction, i try to explain -- introduction, i try to explain why the book is constructed the way it is. because i've been fascinated by the essential paradox of our public life. it consists of this. what i believe is that the things that really matter are the things that are elegant and beautiful, hard and demanding. things that are testimonies to the flourishing of the human spirit. and i write about this at the very beginning of the introduction, and i'll read just a little piece of it. what matters? what are the things that i really believe are important in human, in human development and in our lives? what matters, lives of the good and the great, the innocence of dogs, the cunning of cats, the elegance of nature, the wonders
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of space, the perfectly thrown outfield assist, the difference between historical guilt and historical responsibility, homage and sacrilege and monumental architecture, fashions and follies and the finer uses of the f-word. [laughter] which was the column i wanted to start the book with, but for some odd reason my publisher thought it would be a bad idea. [laughter] if -- and i love this column. if i remember, it begins like this: i'm sure there's a special place in heaven for those who have never used the f-word. i will never get near that place. [laughter] nor will dick cheney. [laughter] as i say, actually he liked it too. what matters, manners and habits, curiosities and conundrums, social and ethical. is a doctor ever permitted to kill a patient willing to die? why in the age of feminism do we with still use the phrase women
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and children? i have a column on that, and i seem to be the only person in the country disturbed by its continued use. and i'm not even a feminist. [laughter] how many lies can one tell, is one allowed to tell to advance stem cell research, something also i write about in the book and in which i talk about what president bush did in elevating the national debate on bioethics in a way that has never been done in american history and for which history will be very grateful as will our progeny. what matters, the paradox in which the great man asks why with so many habitable planets out there, why in god's name have we never heard a word from a single one of those civilizations?
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these are the things that most engage me. they give me pause, pleasure and wonder. they make me grateful for the gift of consciousness, and for three decades they have occupied my mind and commanded my pen. the this book was originally going to be a collection of just those essays and columns. it was going to be about everything but the politics, things beautiful, mysterious, profound or just odd. the working title was "there's more to life than politics." but in the end i couldn't, and this is where i get to the theme of the book, i couldn't for a simple reason: for the same reason i left psychiatry for journalism. because while science, medicine, art, poetry, architecture, chess, space, sport, number theory and all things hard and beautiful promise purity, elegance and sometimes even transcend dance, they are fundamentally subordinate. in the end, they must all bow to the sovereignty of politics.
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politics, the crooked timbre of our lives dominates everything because in the end everything lives or dies by politics. you can have the most advanced of civilizations. get the politics wrong, and everything stands to be swept away. this isn't ancient history, this is germany 1933. this is china during five years of the cultural revolution when they sat out because they got tear politics so wrong. -- their politics so wrong to destroy 5,000 years of one of the most glorious civilizations on earth. and it isn't even ancient history. this is north korea today, a place in the grip of a mad politics, a mad stalinism that has produced an enslaved people. and the utter desolation, spiritual and material, of an entire land. in the end, everything depends on getting the politics right. and here's the paradox.
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politics in daily practice is grubby and grasping and cynical and manipulative and in some ways quite appalling as we have seen recently. think of of disraeli describing his rise to the prime ministership as climbing the greasy pole. not exactly a romantic idea. politics has none of the elegance p and the beauty of art and music, poetry and science. but think of how in the places where they get the politics wrong not just art and poetry, but even science is corrupted. remember in the late 1940s stalin decided that the genetics really means the transmission of inherited characteristics which had been proven a hundred years earlier to be untrue. but stalin insisted on a new soviet genetics. he found the scientists who would do it and produced it
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which is the ultimate expression of the power of a corrupted politics; to corrupt and destroy and undermine and ruin everything that is hard and beautiful and elegant. that's why politics, which so many want to wash their hands of today and understandably so, in the end is southern and must be -- is sovereign and must be sovereign. it's like why i left medicine, a life of unquestionable humanity and nobility, to enter a life of politics. because in the end, everything depends on getting the politics right. and that's why the book could not just be about the things that i cherish and love, the things that i think in the end kind of matter most, because in the end they don't. in the end, politics is sovereign. i end the book with one of the columns at the end of the book is about hyperproliferation.
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about the age we are about to enter into. and i will not see, but the age that my son will live it. and it begins with a story about richard feinman, the great physicist. feinman, as you know, is a man who in the challenger disaster, he was able to crack it brilliantly in a way that explained everything. he was actually one of the younger scientists at los alamos. he actually would amuse himself in his spare hours by breaking into the safes of the to other scientists -- of the other scientists and leaving little notes behind. [laughter] got to love the guy. he actually spent a year later on when he was at cornell, he took a year off to learn the bongos in brazil. the reason i tell you this isn't just to amuse you, but to give you the idea that this was not finish this was a very energetic and driven guy not given to melancholy. and yet there's a point in his
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biography where he writes when he came back from loss alamos after he had -- los alamos after he had witnessed trinity and the new era of the atomic age, he writes he was on his way to cornell, and he saw people working on a bridge. and he thought to himself, why are they doing this? don't they understand this is all useless? and again, he was not a guy who dwelt on that, and he went on to do these wonderful things in his life. but that brought home, to me, the fact that everything is going to hinge in the future on how we deal with that problem among all the great problems of our time. our species has been around for 200,000 years. we acquire knowledge of the bomb, and within 17 years the cuban missile crisis, we come within a hair breadth of self-destruction. this does not bode well. but this tells you how utterly
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important it is, particularly as we enter an age of hyperproliferation where it's not going to be a one-on-one game of deterrence, where it's going to be three-dimensional chess. we are going to have to develop the politics, internal and external. the policies and the diplomacy and the military and all the contingencies that are going to have to understand and deal with this. this is the overriding question. now, i bring this up as a way simply to make the point of why these two elements are in the book; the beautiful stuff that i like to write about, and that's the first half of the book, but the politics in the end are going to have to preserve and protect the beautiful side. and lest i leave you all melancholic and depressed, let me end by saying two things, two ways of curing you of this. number one is i'm still licensed. [laughter] and i'm quite
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prepared to write for anybody who needs a prescription for antidepressants. [laughter] for those of you less pharmacologically inclined, i will leave you with the notion that i've always had about the providential nature of american politics, how it seems as if we always end up finding the right way. we're a little colony on the outskirts of western civilization, and we produce in the 18th century the greatest generation of political geniuses ever assembled on earth to produce a constitution that has given us a republic that has endured longer than any in the history of man kind. mankind. in the 19th century, we are a country that needs a lincoln, and a lincoln arises. in the '20s during the depression and to lead us in the second world war, we find be our fdr. and in the second half, we find our reagan. this is not to say that we will always be able to find our way. but there is something about the
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american spirit, about the bedrock decency and common sense of the american that seems to help us find our way, and we do. and if that isn't enough to cheer you up, i will leave you with a remark, a comment of my favorite pundit, ott to von -- otto von business mark, not generally known for punditry. [laughter] generally known for invading other countries. [laughter] successfully. [laughter] who once actually said god looks after children, fools, drunkards and the united states of america. [laughter] he said that in 1890, and i hope to god he still does. thank you very much. [applause]
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[applause] >> so are there any questions? i think -- do we have microphones? i'm told. microphones? all around. okay. just raise your hand. yes, sir. >> dr. krauthammer, who is your very best friend? >> my very best friend? hmm. before i give you the answer, i'll remind you what harry truman once said. be if you want a friend -- if you want a friend this washington, get a dog. [laughter] the krauthammers have improved on that. we have two dogs in the case one turns on us. [laughter] so the correct answer is maggie
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and willie, but i'm not sure which one it really is. [laughter] >> we actually have a microphone over there, right, cindy? and there's one over here. i don't know why i can't see these. so if you have a question, go to the microphones. how's that? >> a very shy -- >> so, charles, explain the razor. >> it's the principle in science by which when faced with a choice of explanations for any natural phenomenon, you always choose the simplest on the assumption that nature is cunning and nature is very concise and parsimonious. so if you have a very elaborate explanation for evolution or you have a very clean one like darwin, you would accept the more precise and concise one on the assumption that it isn't
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always true, but it is a rule of thumb that always prevails, almost always prevails. i mean, einstein, for example, was able to reduce everything into one -- everything, i mean, the major achievement of his, the jump in physics in 19 -- in the early 1900s was e equals mc squared. it's about 200 pages of hieroglyphics that only ten people on earth can understand, and they tell us it's the right solution. einstein did it in half a line. now, that is the perfect example of what i referred to when i talk about the elegance of nature, and that's what einstein worshiped. he assumed that god is parsimonious, concise, and e once said to his opposition -- in his opposition to quantum mechanics which involves a lot
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of chants in its calculations, god does not play dice with the universe. so that's the razor. >> thank you. >> sorry that i just dropped it in there without explanation. >> no, it was important -- >> figured it would make you purchase the book. [laughter] and the crowd people are sitting right there from crown books, and can they're checking on me. how many references i make per hour. [laughter] >> yes. >> dr. krauthammer, you mentioned earlier in your remarks about how the obama administration has continued many and, in fact, even kind of doubled down on many of the national security policies of the bush administration in prosecuting the war on terror and how president obama certainly has not shied away from an aggressive prosecution of the war on terror. and you also mentioned later the at least former existence of a national security wing of the democratic party. given that, would you see
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president obama in some sense as a kind of reincarnation of the national security democrat, or if not, what's the distinction? >> the answer to that is, god no. [laughter] and the reason is that he is totally reluctant to engage in all of this. i think he's deeply philosophically opposed, and he keeps telling us that. i mean, he does the drone warfare, he does the rendition, he does all the things that president bush instituted, and the reason he does it is that he knows that he has to do it as commander in chief. but then he goes ahead and he gives a speech, what was it, two months ago, three months ago: this war on terror has to end. this has gone on long -- and he goes on and he elaborates how it's undermining our lives and our democracy and our privacy. i mean, that's pretty ironic, isn't it? i mean, he's running the largest snooping operation in the history of the species, and he's
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deploring how the war on terror is undermining our privacy. as the commander in chief, he has to do this. but every time he opens his mouth, you hear him telling us i don't really want to do it. in fact, i want the war to end. i'm going to declare the war -- i'm going to unilaterally -- and when he talks about unilaterally ending wars, he thought he did that in iraq. he pulled out at a point where we had won the war and undermined all our successes. he wants to unilaterally end the war on terror. well, there's a problem with that, there's another guy on the other side. and until he decides the war is over, the war is not over. so he gives speeches in which he, i would say, morally disarm your own seem by telling them, basically, the illegitimacy of the war and how much it's harming the core of americanism. so how do you expect to get popular support? and then he's, oh, you know, at that point he says, oh, we're going to have to pull out of
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afghanistan because there is no popular support. well, if you don't give a speech in six years to explain why you're doing it, you're not going to get my popular support. the point i want to make is that his rhetoric undermines the war that as commander in chief he actually has to carry out. and at least philosophical incoherence. he rails against guantanamo. he hasn't even stopped railing against it after he's kept it open for half a decade. that's a bit odd, isn't it? you're keeping it open because you know you have to, and yet you're denouncing it every day even in this that speech. he said what a terrible thing guantanamo was. so i don't agree with that at all. i think he, if anything, he's the most anti-national security as a democrat, as a thinker as somebody who influences his side of the aisle, if you like. and all -- and the reason there's so much unrest in the country is because you need a president to explain why he's doing it and to explain the
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virtues of the policies he's carrying out rather than undermining them even as he carries them out in a way that he tries to cover up, for example. i was sort of shocked to discover all this nsa stuff after he gave a speech talking about how all this national security state stuff was undermining us. so, i mean, i think that's the problem with the kind of presidency he's carried out in national security. and he's going to leave a party behind him that will continue what i think was the philosophical element of his foreign policy. >> next? >> dr. krauthammer, thank you for being here. you've talked a lot about the importance of politics, and i'm wondering if you know if there's any candidates you see currently or potential candidates that you think can win in 2016 and simultaneously enact a strong reform conservative agenda? >> yes. i think we're going to have a good shot in 2016.
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i think we're going to have a very strong field as opposed to 2012. which if i could say as an aside was a quite winnable election. and romney, who i think was an honorable man who i liked, who i supported, i voted for him, and i would have liked to see him. i think he would have been a a good president. unfortunately, he had a slight handicap, he spoke conservativism as a second language. and that was evident in one of the debates when he was asked by newt what were you doing in the early '90s when our revolution was being carried out, and he said, you know, i was a businessman. an honorable profession, but, you know, i came to politics late, and it shows. because in the this one of the debates when he was trying to show, you know, how reliable he would be ideologically, e said, you know, in massachusetts i had a severely conservative administration. now, think about that word with. severe is a word you generally use in association with head wounds -- [laughter]
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and drop l call storms. [laughter] i have never heard it associated with governance. but now he was the best of the field, but it was a weak field a. we have excellent candidates. we have governors who i think are going to be helped by the fact that they're outside of washington. and washington is not in good favor. and i see, you know, christie of new jersey, jindal of louisiana, susana martinez in new mexico, scott walker of wisconsin is very strong. and then in the congress you've got, you know, people who i think can carry their weight. you've got a marco rubio and others. so i think we're going to have a very strong -- we're going to have fewer debates which was a catastrophe having 21 debates and the words 9/9/9 repeated 90,000 times didn't help us very much. fewer debates, strategy candidates, and -- strong candidates, and we are going to have the wreckage of the obama administration as the backdrop,
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particularly obamacare which is unraveling as we speak. so i think it's not going to be the cake walk people imagine that hillary will have. and for the people who have asked me in the past about my own presidential intention -- [laughter] [applause] thank you, but i'm not fishing for compliments. i'm just headed for a really good line. which is, i want to declare right here that if nominated, i will not run. [laughter] but if elected, i'll serve. [laughter] [applause] i'm just terminally lazy, and i don't want to go to the iowa state fair. [laughter] no disrespect to iowa, but -- where were we? i digress again.
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>> you know, actually, i thought you were born in canada until i read your bio. >> oh, no. >> so you are -- you could run for president. >> that is a malicious lie spread by -- [laughter] the vast left-wing constituency. let me state right here i am not now or have i ever been a member of the canadian citizenry. [laughter] >> okay. question over here. >> doctor, there are international critics that say our drone program is terrorism in itself on a grand scale. lots of innocent people are getting killed, and president obama admits that he makes the final call on who lives and who dies. i was just wondering what you thought about the paradox that we're claiming to fight terrorism, but we're actually creating more animosity in the
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communities that we're attacking. >> with all due respect, this is the opposite of terror. terrorism is the deliberate a attack on innocent seem to achieve a political end. what we are doing in the drone strikes is a deliberate attack on people who do that for a living and for a life and for a mission and for a religion. we deliberately attack them trying to take all the care that we cannot to hurt innocent -- can not to hurt innocent civilians. it is the polar opposite, it is the exact antithesis of terrorism, and we need it as we need a lot of other tools if we are going to defend ourselves. we are facing, as president bush explained from day one, a new kind of barbarism. and i'll give you one example of this. in the last few weeks, we've been hearing about the assassination in pakistan by the
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taliban of people who are distributing the vaccine to prevent polio to children. now, there is no greater depravity than that kind of activity. the killing of people who are risking their lyes to prevent -- their lives to prevent the spread of polio. and yet this is part of the ideology of the barbarians that we are facing. in the face of that, we fight as we can with all the tools available. and if we have a way to use a drone to attack a specific individual and we always try to minimize the damage, that under any criterion of just war theory would fit well, and it absolutely has to be continued. [applause] >> dr. krauthammer, thank you again for being here as well.
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i was wondering if you could comment on the arab spring. two questions as well, and how long you think that we'll with in the impact that it will will have as well as, you know, often i've heard romneycare and obamacare compared, and he's actually a close friend of the family, and from what i understand romneycare is not a federalized program. in fact, it was in massachusetts it was an option and what the people wanted. but it wasn't federalized or -- do you, does that explain what i'm -- >> sure. well, let me take them one at a time. on the arab spring, i think what's happening is the arab world has come to to the end of an era. it started out that the decolonization lasted for about half a century, and when they emerged, they fell quickly from a die nastic. they were a series of countries run by monarchs.
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they were swept away beginning in the early 1950s by nasser who championed this kind of arab socialism, arab nationalism, pan-arabism which is a pix be manyture -- mixture of socialism and militarism with a heavy bureaucracy. it was said i think by pat moynihan that where they learned all these things, the third world leaders who came to power after they were decolonized, all of them became socialists. he said the london school of economics had done more damage to the third world than any imperial power in history, because all of this ended up in ruins. so that's 50 years of the military dictatorships with the example of nasser and saddam, the baathists in syria and elsewhere, that is being swept away even though it's come back to some extent in egypt. the problem is i don't -- i'm not sure whether the arab political culture is going to get directly to democracy.
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it looks as if particularly the example of egypt where they've swung to the muslim brotherhood and then back to military dictatorship, that they may have to be a phase, it could last a decade or two or longer before -- and i think in the end they will be as amenable to democratic outcomes as you've seen in eastern europe, as you've seen in the pacific rim countries, as you've seen in latin america and that is developing in africa. .. be
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a really bad habit you in the near term to get to that perhaps not jeffersonian democracy by any means, but them apart nation that could've been an example to the rest of the arab world. it's going to be a long time and it's going to be dangerous one and we can't afford the kind of random zigzag foreign policy that has been carried out by this administration and in the middle east. on romney care, i was a very different as. it wasn't wise to choose as a harrier in an election with the size of scope and reach of government, the liberal overreach in the first years of the obama admin duration had
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parked that crushing defeat the democrat. in 2010, a friend of nine that that was an election. that was a restraining order. after the lesson of data, which was if we make the case against this liberal overreach and we make the case as i try to do in the book for a limited government, were going to win every time. the centerpiece of that of course was obamacare. but it's hard when you choose as your nominee, but you instituted the brothers similar pair of massachusetts and i say in tribute to romney, he didn't run away from that. he was proud of that achievement and he didn't renounce it as a way to get ahead politically. but it made it very hard in that particular election year, which was a winnable election to make the case on obamacare is the
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centerpiece of it as it had done in the 2010 midterm. the nominee in 2016 because they will have the wreckage of obamacare to campaign on and you can already see democrats in the senate who are up for reelection running away and it's going to be a spread within a few weeks. >> thank you. let's hope we have another president like president bush otherwise i'm going to lose a lot of faith. the mac well, i am for changing. the man is enjoying his life. the bracket. last question. >> thank you for your time tonight. my question is regarding an article that do not integer wrote for the journal maybe a a month ago. he basically said that the strategy that republicans should employ is to not tackle obamacare and would eventually fall under way.
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this seems more realistic today than it did then. i was curious what you thought about that. personally i'm skeptical because i've never seen an entitlement be taken away. he meant that argument. i don't know if you're familiar with him, but i thought you might have an opinion. >> actually, i concur with him. an entitlement to be resistant to be taken away has to actually be instituted and it has to have some success in being implanted. this could be a very iraqi infancy that obamacare may not survive. it's not definitive, but it is more like it do not it will collapse of its own weight. that is when i was advocating during the shutdown. tactically it was a mistake. there's a reason to call for the overthrow of obamacare by legislation on the not a chance that you could do that.
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under a system, you can't do congress that there was no it was going to be undone and into october 1st in the shutdown began his south of the day obamacare, this brand-new website was owing to revolutionize our health care sign up exactly six people. i mean, that isn't even enough to feel debased all team. there'd be no outfield. so i don't think that bodes well. it's an old adage and mentioned earlier. many other guys committing suicide, get out of the room, you know click hand and a pistol to make it easier. and cleaner for the csi crew coming in later. but there is no reason to get in the way. i think what republicans like to do right now if they believe obamacare is going to hurt the
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country, it is not the way to go about attacking one or two very specific and important problems. one could attack a very narrowly in the way that would redo the entire one sixth of the u.s. economy. that actually is liberal overreach. it is what rahm emanuel that in crisis, a terrible thing to waste when he basically that, we are going to use this opportunity when we have controlled the congress to instituted liberal dream of 100 years. nationalizing health care. there was no reason to review and reshaping remake was asked of the economy as a way to attack the problem of the uninsured. so i think this will in the end, very likely to collapse in another way. the gop has to be ready and conservatives have to be ready to address the moral issue and want to make sure all americans have it to but there are ways to
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do it. they're a conservative waste to do it, honest ways to do it in which you aren't hiding the costs and pretending what effects are going to do and what your policy are going to be. that would be the essence of a conservative approach. i would say in the end, that is the outcome, very likely to be the outcome. we have to be prepared to watch it to solve them have an alternative. i think will be the road to victory. if we can do this in 2016. [applause] the mac i can't believe it asking a question a past time that you love, which is chess. his chest and into kind of the beautiful, missiles, or does it did in the political? to it's the beautiful and the -- a lot of people can iterate
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accent your. i once drove on washington to new york to watch a chess game. actually, i did that twice. people shake their heads when they hear that. i do have a comment in a book called the pariah chess club, where i decide i'm trying to describe a group of us. an entirely different game racing into the caught. it's the stuff you see the vagrant in the part playing. it's great fun. he recalled the pariah chess club because at the time, one of the founders was unable to safely appear in campuses. the sousa had a similar problem. the fourth of the founders is perfectly respectable music critic for the washington post. but he was grandfathered as a pariah because he associated with the three of us.
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this theory allegany game with a lot of music, which i try to describe as a lot of fun. i have to admit that i gave it up a couple years ago and i gave it up whole turkey. i was asked why. it's an addiction. it's a poison. you find yourself playing be chess on the internet at 2:00 in the morning. and you realize you're the equivalent of an alcoholic alone in a motel room drinking aqua. [laughter] so i'm on the wagon, off the rack, i've never been able to figure out which is which. i am in remission and enjoying it. [applause] evening thank you.
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give us a number believed him. i think you should the wonderful reviews in your talk. an elegant and beautiful, hard demand is what life is all about. this in a memorable evening for all of us who thank you president bush for being here. happy birthday, mrs. bush. thank you again, charles krauthammer. [applause]
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>> there has been a decline to replace the self-esteem programs we have a tried and true method for boys what they can get from their coaches and moral guidance the reinforcement teachers and they have moved away from that. the second problem with boys that right now i believe they have become second-class citizens in our school and have been
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neglected. a man is far less likely to go to college is a and his sister of all ethnic groups and social groups and socio-economic groups the boy is close behind the counter court. the average 50 year-old boy has the right skills of a 13 year-old girl reading a year-and-a-half behind and boys like school all lot less anr it disengage. there may have been a time there was the economy to get a high-school degree to work carr did to the middle-class and some there are educators that said the passports is the high school diploma but not anymore and girls seem to get it to the boy is less and less they feel


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