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Syndicates: Conservatives Get Fresh Perspective

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Syndicates: Conservatives Get Fresh Perspective

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Ask Charles Krauthammer what he thinks of covering a liberal Democrat like Barack Obama after eight years of George W. Bush, and the conservative columnist will tell you there is a definite upside. "It is a lot easier to be in opposition, it is easier to criticize," he says. While he agreed with the former president's policies and wishes John McCain had won, Krauthammer admits a certain eagerness in having someone in the White House with whom he will more than likely disagree.

"It is actually more challenging when the side you are ideologically attuned with is in power," says Krauthammer, a Pulitzer Prize-winner who is syndicated by The Washington Post Writers Group. "I take an ideological approach to politics that is different than most Democrats."

Tony Blankley, the former editorial page editor of The Washington Times and current Creators Syndicate weekly columnist, agrees: "National Review was probably more fun to read during the [Jimmy] Carter years. You don't feel the need to equivocate or apologize. It is easier to be in opposition."

Krauthammer says that even when Bush was in power, he and other conservative columnists had a more difficult time because of what he believes is a pro-liberal media. "The media bias is so overwhelming, I don't even complain about it," he said. "It is always harder for a conservative, no matter who is in power."

Columnist George Will, also with the Post Writers Group, says the ideological shift is not necessarily a big factor in his approach, although he adds, "I will be looking at Democrats with a kind of squint, because they get things wrong. If you are a conservative, you think Democrats are apt to make more mistakes."

But Will notes that Obama is coming into office at a time when the country is in such disarray, it will be hard to judge him without taking the situation into account: "Conservatives can't be absolutely confident about what we do next because we have not been in this pickle before." Perhaps that's one reason that in mid- January, Will hosted at his suburban Maryland home a dinner meeting -- a literal breaking of bread -- with Obama and several notable conservative pundits, almost all from the print (not TV) side.

The government's financial rescue efforts may bring an urgency to the "right" arguments, Will claims. "The Bush administration has in the last four months changed the relationship between the government and the economy more than in the last 75 years," he says. "The conservative's job is to press for and express why we need an exit policy from all of this intervention." He also says he does not need a Democrat in office to find opinion topics: "I don't have a day that I don't have anything to write about."

Blankley adds, "for the opening of an administration, what does it mean to be in a honeymoon period? Whether you should criticize in areas where you disagree? I think conservatives are split, some want to give the benefit of the doubt. …

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