Lehigh Valley

Still worried about Trump presidency, Charles Krauthammer sees reasons for optimism

EASTON, Pa. - Speaking at the State Theatre in Easton Thursday night, AnchorCharles Krauthammer said he was terrified when he heard Donald Trump’s isolationist inaugural address that rejected 70 years of American foreign policy.

“If we narrowly define our interests and ignore everybody else, we’re going to live in a sorry place and live to regret it,” said the Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and Fox News contributor. “The inaugural address was an attack on our adversaries and our friends.”

Krauthammer described as genius the Marshall Plan, which provided billions in economic aid to western Europe after World War II because it multiplied American power and influence across the globe, checking the ambitions of the Soviet Union, and led to prosperity at home.

But Trump’s address in January was largely the result of Steve Bannon, whose influence has been since been marginalized in the White House, he said.

Krauthammer said he is now encouraged by Trump’s more recent rhetoric and actions.

The missile strikes on Syria and the use of a Massive Ordnance Air Blast weapon against ISIS in Afghanistan last week sent a strong message to Iran and North Korea that the U.S. can damage the underground places they thought were safe.

China, which does not war, is now more active than ever in trying to reign in North Korea, he said, and the “honeymoon” with Vladimir Putin is over.

“NATO is no longer obsolete. It was obsolete; now it’s not obsolete,” Krauthammer said, poking fun at how Trump can pivot on his statements.

Adding to Krauthammer’s optimism are Trump’s key cabinet members — Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, National Security Adviser H. R. McMaster, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley — all traditionalists in American foreign policy who are “steering us in the right direction” and understand that AmericaAnchor need allies to preserve its interests.

Krauthammer also reflected on last year’s election and identified the reasons behind Trump’s victory over Hillary Clinton.

He said Trump’s “America first” message appealed to economically dislocated white working class voters, people desperate for change and those who rejected what he called Barrack Obama’s “hyper-liberalization” of American society and a health care law from “arrogant liberals dictating what health care would be.”

But the biggest factor for Trump’s win “was the luck of the draw,” Krauthammer said. “He got Hillary Clinton, a terrible candidate, who came with more baggage than a Delta airline, maybe less than United has today,” he said.

Krauthammer said he still has a lot of problems with Trump, “a president with certain idiosyncrasies” who has made promises he can’t deliver and delivered a xenophobic campaign message that “was meant to appeal to the darker side of people’s nature.”

China, once vilified by Trump for stealing American jobs, was never the problem, he said. “Eighty-five percent of factory jobs did not go to China but to the chip,” Krauthammer said, noting that technology has led to more efficiencies and made some jobs obsolete.

“He’s not well schooled; he’s learning on the job,” he said. “But he’s got political talent.”

Krauthammer wrapped up by saying that his newfound optimism is based on “something providential about American history” and how certain leaders have emerged throughout history at the right time, citing the founding fathers, Lincoln, FDR and Reagan.

Quoting German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck, “there is a Providence that protects idiots, drunkards, children and the United States of America,” Krauthammer said, “let’s hope we do the right thing.”

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