Pulitzer Prize-winning syndicated columnist and self-described conservative Charles Krauthammer gave his audience plenty of red meat Sunday to hurl at the left-leaning set, and judging from his reception, it didn’t appear that many of them were sitting in the Beth Tefiloh Congregation’s Dahan Sanctuary.
In what was billed as the inaugural Haron Dahan Lecture, Krauthammer, an author, psychiatrist and Fox News commentator, minced no words in his overview of international affairs, presenting a scalding critique of the Obama administration’s policies.
After Rabbi Mitchell Wohlberg’s warm introduction, Krauthammer’s entrance was greeted with a standing ovation from the hundreds of people in the Dahan Sanctuary. Krauthammer thanked the rabbi for his introduction and drew laughs from the crowd when he also thanked Wohlberg for omitting an interesting detail: Krauthammer was once a speechwriter for former Minnesota Democratic Sen. — and later presidential candidate — Walter Mondale.
“People ask me about how I could go from being a speechwriter for Mondale to Fox News,” he began. “I tell them, ‘I was young once.’ ”
He then acknowledged that liberals in the audience would probably be unhappy with what he had to say, but he joked that — like Fox News’ tagline — he would try his best to be “fair and balanced.”
Krauthammer started by analyzing the Obama presidency.
“Barack Obama came to office as one of the most unknown, least-prepared presidents we have ever seen. He turns out to be ideologically ambitious and open and honest about his plans for the country,” he said. “He is not a conventional liberal but is more of a social Democrat who wanted to make us more like Europe. … Obama sees large things, and he wants to nationalize them.
“I am stunned by how open he is about his desire to fundamentally change America in three ways — health, education and energy,” continued Krauthammer. “He hasn’t succeeded in everything … but Obamacare will have consequences for many years to come. It will undo many of the achievements of modern medicine.”
Based on his performance in his first term, Obama, said the columnist, should not have won a second term.
“The 2012 election was an anomaly,” he asserted. “Republicans, in their genius, lost an unlosable election. I liked Mitt Romney. I supported him, and I voted for him. I think he would have been a good president. But he was not a good candidate. Republicans managed to nominate the only man who couldn’t make the case against Obamacare,because he invented Obamacare in Massachusetts … and he spoke Conservatism as a second language.”
Krauthammer, however, said he is optimistic about a Republican win in 2016.
“I think the country remains a center-right country, and I think we have many good, young candidates: Scott Walker, Bobby Jindal, Jeb Bush,” he said. But Bush “has one problem, his name. I’ve got a solution for him, change it. Marco Rubio has had a bad year, but he will be strong too.”
He said that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is his favorite candidate.
“Chris Christie ran into trouble with conservatives when he got a little chummy with Obama during Hurricane Sandy,” Krauthammer acknowledged. “They said he gave Obama a bear hug. I say he gave Obama a lap dance.”
Worrying that perhaps he had gone too far for a synagogue audience with that last remark, he checked in with the rabbi, drawing more laughter from the crowd. Regarding “Bridgegate,” the ongoing scandal of the Christie administration’s closing of the George Washington Bridge in an apparent effort to punish the mayor of Fort Lee, N.J., for not endorsing the governor, Krauthammer feigned disappointment at the weakness of such a punishment.
“I was deeply dismayed by Bridgegate and the state of revenge in this country,” he remarked. “In the old days in New Jersey, you would have put a horse in his bed, sent him a fish in the mail, or the doorbell rings and Tanya Harding is standing there.”
Krauthammer then went on to talk about foreign affairs, an area in which he also found fault with the Obama administration. Pointing to the current situations in Iraq, Russia and Syria, Krauthammer said that Obama has damaged the reputation of the United States by “withdrawing America from the world. When the Ukrainians came to the U.S. last month, they asked for weapons but were turned down and given food instead.”
Krauthammer believes the sanctions that Obama has given Russia are “weak and laughable. The Japanese and Koreans see China getting stronger, and the U.S. under this president is shrinking. They are scared.”
Krauthammer also criticized administration efforts toward a non-nuclear Iran.
“The negotiations are a total sham,” he charged. “Once the Iranians can enrich [uranium], they can build nuclear weapons. If an agreement is reached, we could be six months away from them having nukes. Once we decided to loosen sanctions, we lost. It’s a very dangerous place to be. The only thing that could help is regime stability. The only thing the ayatollah value more than nukes is regime stability.”
With regard to Israel, Krauthammer called Obama’s record a “disgrace,” saying he was the worst president for Israel we have ever had.
In an interview before the lecture, he called Secretary of State John Kerry’s efforts in the Middle East “feckless and vain. There was never any chance of agreement. It was preposterous to spend this kind of time on it. Abbas made it clear he would never sign an agreement, and Kerry went about it anyway. There are a lot of details, but the core issue is extremely simple. As long as the Palestinians refuse to recognize the Jewish state, there will be no peace. On the day they decide to recognize the existence of a Jewish state, there will be peace within two weeks.”
The “good news,” Krauthammer told the Beth Tfiloh crowd, “is that I don’t believe the American people will stand for this. There is a kind of humiliation among Americans about doing nothing about Syria and giving in to Russia. We don’t like that no one respects the U.S.
“Our allies are afraid, and our enemies are emboldened,” he continued. “They will express themselves in the voting booth. In the end, if you make a case for small but compassionate government, you’ll win.”