Speaking before the fully packed Yale Law School Levinson Auditorium on Monday evening, conservative Washington Post columnist and FOX News commentator Charles Krauthammer offered a detailed critique of President Barack Obama’s administration, touching upon both the President’s domestic vision and his foreign policy.
As a guest speaker for the William F. Buckley Jr. Program at Yale, which aims to “promote intellectual diversity on Yale’s campus,” Krauthammer argued that the Obama administration has led the United States into a state of decline. In particular, Krauthammer criticized Obama’s decision to import a social democratic vision from Europe into the United States, adding that Obama’s passivity in foreign affairs has put the country at risk. Often eliciting laughter and nods of approval from the audience, Krauthammer cited the passing of Obamacare, the Iran Deal, the growth of ISIS and the war in Ukraine, among other examples, as examples of Obama’s dismal performance.
“[Obama’s] vision of the world has no connection to the world as it really is, and as a result America has headed for a steep decline,” Krauthammer said, adding that Obama, in both his domestic and foreign initiatives, has moved beyond the traditional limits of American liberalism.
In the example of health care reform, Krauthammer argued that Obama imposed a one-sided, idealistic vision on the country without a single vote from the opposing side. Obama is moving America away from a country with limited government power into a social democratic country modeled on the European welfare state, Krauthammer said.
In regards to foreign policy, Krauthammer added that Obama’s actions have also come to oppose America’s traditional role as the outside balancer to support weaker states against encroaching powers on the international front.
“Barack Obama came into power thinking of America not as a benign influence in the world, but as having a negative effect,” Krauthammer said. “He thought it would be best to diminish our role [as the outside balancer].”
Obama’s decision to pull American troops out of Iraq left a power vacuum, Krauthammer said, adding that the Obama administration’s failure to understand the effects of troop withdrawal has brought about dangerous consequences.
Matt Robinson ’18, who said he is not politically affiliated, thought Krauthammer raised interesting points about the historical background of the American balance of power. The crowd, Robinson added, seemed very much in agreement with Krauthammer throughout the talk.
Zach Young ’17, president of the Buckley program, said the purpose of the event was to add another angle to Yale’s public discourse through a leading spokesperson for the right.
“I think the Yale campus will benefit from exposure to this viewpoint in our debates on foreign policy,” Young said, adding that Yale’s campus is an environment is one in which the liberals hold larger sway than the conservatives.
Karina Kovalcik ’17 said that though the majority of the people in the room were most likely conservatives, she was confident that the speaker’s reputation drew at least a few attendees from opposing sides.
Before receiving a standing ovation at the end of his speech, Krauthammer assured his audience that there is still hope for America’s future. The way out of decline will depend on the result of the 2016 presidential election, he added.
“These things are reversible with a new foreign policy,” Krauthammer said. “We’re not going to get into wars, we’re not going to invade anyone, but we’re going to rebuild our allies and maintain a red line that others will respect. That can be done.”
The Buckley Program was founded in 2010 by a group of Yale undergraduates.