….what the Founders saw?
Short answer: Because he’s too damn smart.
This isn’t entirely a knock on Mr Krauthammer, although some might take it as such. It is more an observation of human nature, an observation the Founders collectively were able to see, which sometimes the very brightest among us cannot…simply because they are so very bright.
I once compared Charles to a theater critic, i.e., a person who could, in fine detail and perfect prose, tell an audience of readers whether they should bother to become an audience of viewers…but still could never compose a script of any merit, direct or even act in the most menial of parts of a play with any distinction.
Still, those critics matter. So does Charles Krauthammer.
In fact, the Constitution (and the Founders) took Charles and his kind into account…as key role players in this continuing drama of a constitutional republic trying to unfurl and grow, to become more accultured and civilized, while still able to hold onto that fundamental body of values and assets that provided it with its most distinguishing of characteristics; the ability of every Man to pursue life, liberty and happiness without constraint.
That’s not as easy as it sounds, is it?
Mose Sands called them “Protectors” and distinguished them from Citizens (us, the common man and woman, for whom the Constitution was written; i.e., we make it all work) and the Elect (ed), from whence most of our troubles seem to arise these days.
The ConstitutionÂ always envisioned (I’m always anthropomorphizing it, so indulge me) a cadre of elites in American public affairs, i.e., the best and brightest, builders, not only just crass builders, but builders with vision, along with men of letters, philosophy and insight; a coterie of distinction altogether different from the modern corporate administrators of things other men built we see today, along with bureaucrats and (sadly) ill-educatedÂ academicians whose philosophical inspirations never seem to go beyond their own petty appetites, and whose insights rarely beyond their own navels.
One of the first responsibilities of these constitutional elites is to understand that they are generally outside the principal objectives of the Constitution, for it serves as a road map to how common ordinary men and women can govern themselves. Like theater critics, they observe and comment, point and nudge, preach and teach about things they actually are unsuited to do themselves…such a being chief executive officer of this magnificent affair, president.
From my definition here you can see the principal difference between an “elite” and an “elitist” and indeed, the entire conservative/right and liberal/left vision of governance. The other guys, “Elitists,” want to be in charge…usually to fulfill some childish notion that if one is smarter than some others, he should have a sign on his door that says he’s the boss of those others. It really is that simple.
The elitist considers this to be a birthright almost, which also implies he’s not nearly smart enough to ever be a true elite, for he lacks the discernment and wisdom of the “elite”. (Look it up, it’s in the Bible, even Krauthammer’s half.) The elitist is unable to see how any thing works (other than the rumblings of his own belly), which, quite frankly puts him intellectually beneath most high school drop-outs who can take apart and re-assemble a Chevy V-8 engine. (At least that’s my benchmark. Some of you might say he couldn’t lead a horse out of barn, but I’m not really in the mood to talk about Newt this very moment.)
But even genuine “elites,” much like Icarus, can fly too close to the sun, and lose their sense of position and responsibility the Constitution expected of an elite.
Charles Krauthammer is not Icarus, but I think he sometimes has felt the heat, especially as he tries to get his arms around a person like Sarah Palin, who, in his more liberal Mondale days, he would never have even given an order for an “MCS w/L.” (Minner cheese sammich with lettuce.)
I think Charles is having difficulty coming to grips withÂ just what it is about Sarah that bothers him (I know I did, in an entirely different context), recalling his youth perhaps (he’s five years younger than me) when “her type” personified a culture to be treated with a degree of distance. (I chose not to.)
It’s easy to do, for I saw many of my educated betters go the same way, only they never came back. In this culture it would be easy to miss, even for a “protector” such as Charles what it is about about a Sarah Palin that is so liberating to millions of common, ordinary Americans…which it turns out are the same common and ordinary Americans his cadre of elites are supposed to be protecting.
It is from their ranks, and not Charles’, that we are supposed to select, and elect, our leaders. And while we the people have earned a C-grade at best in this process, we still came up with an Abe, Kentucky log cabin boy (when needed), an Ike, Kansas boy (when needed), a Harry, Missoura boy, and a Ronnie , room-over-the-store boy (when needed) while best the other side seems to have been able to come up with was an FDR, and quite frankly, like Wilson, the further removed we get from both, the more the scales fall from our eyes.
To some extent, I think Charles feels the same about Herman Cain as he does Sarah Palin, both as un-serious candidates, placing others, some good (Tim Pawlenty), some not so good, (Romney, Huntsman, even Paul Ryan) over them based on criteria that is really a little cheesy and too Establishment and inside-the-Beltway to suit the Founders’ taste.
Or Charles Krauthammer.
I can’t know Charles heart, but believe him to be a wise man, for he listens to himself. Last summer, when the tea party candidate Christine O’Donnell won the Delaware GOP primary, he said “She can’t win.” I heard him say it, and put a hex on him. Sure enough, next day, he walked that comment back by saying “Look, I hope she wins…but the numbers still didn’t add up”.Â Which they didn’t. Christine d”arc lost big. But Charles did not want to crawl into bed with all the elitists-in-kneepants and Castle-ites who not only said Christine couldn’t win because they also wanted her to lose…for no other reason than to be right. He didn’t want to sleep with philistines. That was important to me.
Recently Charles said Sarah Palin was “unschooled” in policy, as is Herman Cain, I might add. He was indicating a secret pre-condition to be president, namely that a candidate must have years of “policy” experience. Compared to who? we all want to ask. Obama? Clinton? Ronald Reagan?
Charles is wrong here. Worse,Â he trusts less that the people can get it right. Yes, in a crap shoot, possibly, he fears we may bet on the wrong horse and allow the unthinkable, a second Obama term to become reality.
I cannot fault him that fear.
But I sometimes think Charles may have meant “ungroomed” instead of “unschooled”. I agree that Sarah and Herman had better bone up on policy issues if they want to make a good run of it. I still don’t think Sarah will run, except as she runs now, as interference and the most exasperating carbuncle on the behind of the media that God ever put on this planet.
As a “type” I find no fault in her anymore than I do in Herman Cain, for both bring to the political front burner a liberation of the American common man and woman even Ronald Reagan couldn’t have dreamt (because we weren’t as receptive to freedom then as we are now). Both have can-do, can-win attitudes, built on a foundation of bedrock principles.
I could tell Herman Cain or Sarah Palin everything they needed to know about Afghanistan in 30 minutes, then let them take it from there. You all know someone more capable than me who can do it better in half the time. That’s how hard it is. (Hint: Just don’t do the briefing papers thing. Tell them. Face to face.) Like Reagan, they’d use their basic foundation to figure out the rest. From that a policy emerges. The wonks only give shape.
This is where I’m more confident than Charles.
And this is where Charles Krauthammer can’t see what the Founders could see.
He’s just a kid, so he’s still a work in progress.