Robert Novak was an ominous presence on CNN in the early days of the cable news revolution. Back before a fake-news propaganda vehicle like Fox Noise was just a glimmer in Rupert Murdoch and Karl Rove’s eye, Novak was the one of the first to present a daily conservative message on a mainstream media outlet as the "on the right" half of the seminal Crossfire argument show during its glory years (with Michael Kinsley on a usually weak "left").
Novak earned the moniker Prince of Darkness for his unflinching defense of all things Reagan and Gingrich and his smug dismissal of anyone who disagreed with him. His deep eyes, bushy eyebrows and permanent scowl fit the nickname perfectly. At least he came by his always-wrong opinions honestly. Although an unapologetic shill for any Republican willing to feed him the usual bullshit, he was known for hard source reporting and leg work – he was actually a reporter. In 2005, under pressure from his political Cheney-driven outing of CIA agent Valerie Plame, Novak went nuts, ripped off his microphone and stormed off the CNN set during a live appearance. Battling cancer for the last year, he is now absent from the noisy cable news squawking he pioneered and most of his other opinion outlets. The Prince of Darkness has gone dark.
Enter Charles Krauthammer. Krauthammer – a columnist in the Washington Post and a panelist on, of course, Fox Noise – appears on TV to be an insufferable snob who can barely stand to be in the same room with lesser mortals. The psychiatrist-turned-neocon-mouthpiece (imagine being on the couch with this dude) was in particular high lather last week, looking into President Obama’s soul to find things that aren’t there and pissing all over the president’s efforts to find peace and security overseas. Remember when the right-wing echo chamber used to screech bloody murder every Junior Bush was criticized at home while he was embarrassing himself and us while visiting other parts of the world? Oh, that was then; this is now.
Krauthammer’s first shot against Obama last week was in his Post column on Friday, when he declared that he was a mind-reader and could now expose Obama’s true agenda. The difficult matters of preventing the collapse of the financial and auto industry were just "sideshows", he claimed. "Obama is a leveler. He has come to narrow the divide between rich and poor. For him the ultimate social value is fairness. Imposing it upon the American social order is his mission."
Well. Now he tells us. This is Krauthammer as Joe the Plumber – he’s trying to spread the wealth! – a typically deadpan effort on his part to alarm people into doing...what is not exactly clear, although signing on to Rep. Michele Bachmann's call for violent revolution is never out of the question for these people. . The "socialist" label the right has been trying to pin on the president since the campaign is becoming quite tiresome. Besides the fact that it takes attention away from their own vacuity of ideas about what to do about the crisis created by their hand-picked buffoon, the label means nothing to new generations that either never heard or forgot the right’s history of sky-is-falling hysterical smears of market-based solutions by Democrats and real socialist efforts in other parts of the world.
Besides – it’s not even a fair reading of Obama’s "true" intentions, which are out there for all to see in the most transparent administration in history. Socialists, for one group, will tell you that casting socialist aspersions onto Obama’s actions is laughable. "Not only is he not a socialist, he may in fact not even be a liberal," writes Billy Wharton in a column in the same Washington Post in which he also describes a hilarious visit to Fox Noise studios. "Socialists understand him more as a hedge-fund Democrat -- one of a generation of neoliberal politicians firmly committed to free-market policies."
And so he is, but not in Krauthammer’s fevered brain. Like every good wing-nut talking-pointer, he doesn’t let facts get in the way. Exactly none of Obama’s stimulus and budget packages have anything to do with "narrow[ing] the nation’s income and anxiety gaps" imagined by Krauthammer and everything to do with pouring economic power into the private economy to get it – not the government – going again. Like all right-wingers, he unjustly smears Obama’s health care plans as "nationalization", when those plans are, in fact, deplorably rooted in the current pro-insurance industry system ("ObamaCare would give private health insurance companies license to systematically underinsure policyholders while cashing in on the moral currency of universal coverage," says Wharton).
The shrill socialist meme employed by the wing-nuts is doomed to failure. Although they are used to repeating a lie so much it becomes perceived as the truth, Obama will never be considered a socialist by the general public. Regardless of his claimed mind-reading prowess, Krauthammer – who was one of the conservative columnists who joined Obama at George Will’s house for dinner after the election – knows better.
Krauthammer is also not above criticizing the president in the most severe terms while he is traveling the world, representing his country. Also on Friday, Krauthammer took his occasional seat on Fox Noise to snootily look down his nose at Obama’s "disgraceful" performance during his European trip (you know, the trip being praised everywhere except on Fox). Apparently, his undies were in a bundle over Obama’s long-overdue expression of humility on behalf of America regarding its recent arrogance while in the hands of the radical Bushies. Again pretending to mind-read, Krauthammer complained that Obama was less than appreciative of the disastrous Bush foreign policy "in order to gain the adoration of the press".
The dig at Obama was delivered with the typical Krauthammer smarmy aplomb, complete with a dig at the whole of Europe for "sucking [our] tit" for the past 60 years. You can’t beat that kind of pithy imagery -- Dr. Krauthammer was obviously a strict Freudian.
Bob Novak is gone. Long live Charles Krauthammer – the new Prince of Darkness.