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charles k

Pop Quiz: When is a Neocon Not A Neocon? Answer. When he’s wrong. Which is most of the time. And that irks Charles Krauthammer.

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Dr. Krauthammer is an interesting character. For some thirty years he’s been a Washington fixture. Trained as a psychiatrist, he became a speechwriter for Vice President Walter Mondale. He then began to write for the Washington Post, feeling right at home, since, at the Post, all abnormal behaviors are deemed normal.

Mondale. The Post. Those two credits are similar to those of many other “former” liberals who have become neoconservatives over the years. But these days the Doctor Is In, and he’s pouting. Why? Well, just two years ago he was bragging: “Today, everyone and his cousin supports the ‘freedom agenda’. Of course, yesterday it was just George W. Bush, Tony Blair and a band of neocons with unusual hypnotic powers.”

Hypnotic? Well, remember, the Doc is a shrink, and a proud one at that. But he also believes in mandatory amnesia, because today his celebrated “freedom agenda” has once more blown up in his face, so he now gripes that people are calling him names.

Neoconservative? He’s not a “neoconservative” at all, not any more, he tells National Review’s Rich Lowry. Better not argue (and Rich, shame on him, didn’t), because Dr. K. is on a roll: “Neoconservative is an ‘epithet’ [sic]. Today [he continues] it’s usually meant as a silent synonym for ‘Jewish conservative.’ And when it is meant otherwise, I would ask you whenever you hear the word [to] challenge the person to describe and explain to you what a neocon is.”

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Yes, the good Doctor is in, but he’s totally out of it. Frankly, I don’t blame him for ducking the neocon label — it’s as closely identified with failure as “Bush” is. Mr. Lowry’s magazine quietly admitted as much in the run-up to the 2012 elections. Moreover, Dr. Krauthammer’s “challenge” comes off as somewhat insincere, considering how, ten years ago, he had no time for rational discussion, brushing off Bush’s conservative critics as “navel gazers” because they insisted on a debate that would apply constitutional principles to Bush’s wars — which, like Bush, were failures (John McCain, another failure, to the contrary).

On brief inspection, the doctor’s tendentious tantrum borders on hilarity. Many neocons wear the label proudly. After Obama’s illegal war on Libya (another disastrous failure, but I digress), Bill Kristol cheered, and proudly baptized Obama as a “born again neocon.” Did Mr. Kristol’s use of that sly “epithet” intend to brand Obama as a “Jewish conservative,” I wonder? Mr. Kristol is often off the wall, and even more often wrong, but even he has his standards.

Mr. Kristol’s father, Irving, proudly referred to himself as the “godfather of all those neocons” just ten years ago, in his son’s magazine. Neoconservatism, wrote Kristol, is “forward-looking” conservatism. Moreover, “neoconservative policies have helped make the very idea of political conservatism more acceptable to a majority of American voters,” he insisted.

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