June 28, 2018:

While many cable news talking heads on the right and the left act as agitators for their respective audiences, one could always depend on the late Charles Krauthammer to be a voice of reason. As Fred Hiatt, the editorial page editor for the Washington Post wrote last week “For decades Charles has written a column of unparalleled principle and integrity, not to mention humor and intellectual virtuosity”. Hiatt continued: “We know we speak for many of you when we say that nothing and no one can replace him. Charles wrote for the right reasons. Lord knows — and presidents, from right to left, can attest — he didn’t seek invitations to White House dinners or other badges of approval from the powerful. He sought, rather, to provoke us to think, to enlarge our understanding, at times to make us laugh.”

Born into an Orthodox Jewish family in Manhattan, Krauthammer studied at McGill University and Oxford before receiving his medical degree from Harvard. A freak diving accident left him a paraplegic after his first year in medical school. Undaunted, Krauthammer became an accomplished psychiatrist in his twenties and published a manual on Mental Disorders in 1980. He was recruited to the Carter Administration to consult on mental health but soon became a speech writer for Vice President Mondale. When democrat turned republican, Ronald Reagan became president Krauthammer started questioning his own liberal views. He later said, “The origin of that evolution is simple: I’m open to empirical evidence. The results of the Great Society experiments started coming in and began showing that, for all its good intentions, the War on Poverty was causing irreparable damage to the very communities it was designed to help. I opened my eyes to the inexorable “institutional sclerosis” that corrodes and corrupts the ever-enlarging welfare state.”

Snippets of Brilliance
It’s impossible to do justice to Krauthammer’s intellect, writing skills, and subtle humor with snippets but hopefully the following passages display the reasons he will be thoroughly missed.

Redskins and Reason: “I don’t like the language police ensuring that no one anywhere gives offense to anyone about anything…The fact is, however, that words don’t stand still. They evolve . . . Let’s recognize that there are many people of good will for whom “Washington Redskins” contains sentimental and historical attachment — and not an ounce of intended animus. So, let’s turn down the temperature. What’s at issue is not high principle but adaptation to a change in linguistic nuance. A close call, though I personally would err on the side of not using the word if others are available.” 

Standing with Israel: “On the 70th anniversary of Auschwitz, mourning dead Jews is easy. And, forgive me, cheap. Want to truly honor the dead? Show solidarity with the living — Israel and its six million Jews. Make “never again” more than an empty phrase. It took Nazi Germany seven years to kill six million Jews. It would take a nuclear Iran one day.”

Airport Security: “Everyone knows that the entire apparatus of the security line is a national homage to political correctness… We pretend that we go through this nonsense as a small price paid to assure the safety of air travel. Rubbish. This has nothing to do with safety — 95 percent of these inspections, searches, shoe removals, and pat-downs are ridiculously unnecessary. The only reason we continue to do this is that people are too cowed to even question the absurd taboo against profiling… Now you insist on a full-body scan or alternatively, the full-body pat-down, which would be sexual assault if performed by anyone else? This time you have gone too far, Big Bro. The sleeping giant awakes. Take my shoes, remove my belt, waste my time, and try my patience. But don’t touch my junk.”

Obama’s Executive Orders: “The point is not what you think about the merits of the DREAM Act. Or of mandatory drug sentences… The point is whether a president, charged with faithfully executing the laws that Congress enacts, may create, ignore, suspend and/or amend the law at will. Presidents are arguably permitted to refuse to enforce laws they consider. But presidents are forbidden from doing so for the reason for every Obama violation listed above. Such gross executive usurpation disdains the Constitution. It mocks the separation of powers. And most consequentially, it introduces a fatal instability into law itself. If the law is not what is plainly written, but is whatever the president and his agents decide, what’s left of the law?”

Trump is beyond narcissism: “I used to think Trump was an 11-year-old, an undeveloped schoolyard bully. I was off by about 10 years. His needs are more primitive, an infantile hunger for approval and praise, a craving that can never be satisfied.” 

Save the Border Collie (from 1994):  The dumbing of America has gone far enough. Yes, we have gotten used to falling SAT scores, coming in dead last in international math comparisons, high schoolers who cannot locate the Civil War to the nearest half-century. But we have got to draw the line somewhere. I say we draw it at dogs. Last month, the American Kennel Club, the politburo of American dog breeding, decided to turn the world’s smartest dog, the border collie, into a moron. Actually, it voted 11-1 to begin proceedings to turn it into a show dog, which will amount to the same thing. … In a world of rising crime and falling standards, of broken cities and failing schools, the border collie is one of the few things that works. Must we ruin this too? Reduce it to imbecility in the name of prettiness? . . . Face it: Our kids are not going to beat the South Koreans at math for decades. But we can still produce a thinking dog. For now. 

R.I.P., Charles.