Charles Krauthammer, Fusionist?

by Jonah Goldberg

Dan – My short take: I think you simply chose the wrong word. Derb’s right on the narrow issue of the inappropriateness of the label (we can argue the merits of advancing liberty abroad another time).

A slightly longer explanation is that neoconservatives — as we understand them — grew up in a different intellectual tradition than the parties to the fusionist debate, which had remarkably little, if anything, to do with foreign policy. Of course, Frank Meyer, the chief author of fusionism,  cared deeply and passionately about foreign policy. But his influence on neoconservatism is transitive insofar as neoconservatives have essentially lost the neo part and are simply part of the mainstream conservative movement and Frank Meyer, the author of fusionism, was one of the founding fathers of mainstream conservatism (See here, for more on this point). If you were looking for so-called neocons (my exhaustion with the term “neocon” is pretty well-established by now) who might invite the fusionist label, it’d be better to look to our friends over at First Things or perhaps Marvin Olasky or maybe even Bill Kristol, and even then I think that would be a stretch.

Charles Krauthammer is a mainstream conservative, and a highly esteemed one, but to the extent he’s a fusionist we’re all fusionists. Krauthammer’s prose is far from reminiscent of Meyer’s and his approach to issues — i.e. how he thinks them through — doesn’t really invite many comparisons.   Both men are brilliant and important and conservative. But the comparisons confuse more than they illuminate beyond that.

At least that’s my personal take. But since I love this stuff, I’d be glad to be corrected or debated on any of the above.