Krauthammer eyes an ideological battle royal

Charles Krauthammer knows exactly what he wants to see in 2012: a Republican presidential nominee who will “make 2012 a decisive choice between two distinct visions of government.” Oddly enough, I wouldn’t mind this myself.

The far-right columnist believes he has it all figured out. The 2010 midterms, Krauthammer believes, proved how much Americans love conservative governance.

The Republicans swept November’s midterm election by making it highly ideological, a referendum on two years of hyper-liberalism — of arrogant, overreaching, intrusive government drowning in debt and running deficits of $1.5 trillion annually. It’s not complicated. To govern left in a center-right country where four out of five citizens are non-liberal is a prescription for electoral defeat.

The notion that a weak economy, high unemployment, a listless Democratic base, and an infusion of hundreds of millions of unregulated money contributed to Democratic defeats never seems to enter Krauthammer’s mind. Indeed, he knows it was about President Obama and his “hyper-liberalism.”

Obamacare with its individual mandate remains unpopular. The near-trillion-dollar stimulus remains an albatross. Even the failed attempt at cap-and-trade — government control of energy pricing — shows Obama’s determination to fundamentally transform America.

My favorite part of this? Two of the three examples Krauthammer cites as evidence of Obama’s radical liberalism — health care mandates and cap-and-trade — are ideas Republicans have supported for years. He really ought to pay closer attention.

But Krauthammer’s overarching point is that Republicans need only to duplicate the 2010 strategy and keep pushing a far-right ideological message.

Didn’t this fail miserably in New York’s 26th? Never mind that, Krauthammer says. The GOP nominee was “weak, defensive, unschooled and unskilled” when Democrats started talking about Medicare privatization. All the GOP needs now is candidates who are “half as fluent as [Paul] Ryan in defending their Medicare plan,” and voila, “they would be able to neutralize the issue.”

As near as I can tell, Krauthammer’s entire vision of the political landscape is dramatically flawed, but maybe I’m wrong. Perhaps the public is just clamoring for a far-right hero who’ll explain how great the country will be just as soon as we get rid of Medicare and domestic programs the middle class has come to rely on.

If Dems are very lucky, the GOP will take Krauthammer’s advice.