The victim of a serious injury as a young man that left him paralyzed from the neck down, Charles Krauthammer managed to earn a medical degree from Harvard University and then become a well-known journalist. The man’s pluck was surely something to be greatly admired. It was his promotion of left-of-center political views that earned him much of the notoriety he garnered. After a battle with declining health, he succumbed to cancer on June 21 at age 68.
In the view of this political pundit, Krauthammer’s political stances were as unappealing as his personal determination was always praiseworthy. Forced to use a motorized wheelchair, he would render his opinions as a television panelist without ever displaying the chair from which he issued his thoughts. Even longtime fans never knew that he couldn’t walk.
In 1978, one of his former professors at Harvard’s Medical School steered him to a position in the Carter administration where he wrote speeches for Vice President Walter Mondale. By then a resident of the nation’s capital, he began writing articles for the unabashedly liberal New Republic magazine. His consistently left-of-center stances endeared him to the magazine’s staff and won him full-time employment during the Reagan years (1981-1989). From doctrinaire liberal at that period in his life, he became a neoconservative during the Reagan years.
While many who should know better — and probably do but won’t say so publicly — Krauthammer’s neoconservatism was the usual dangerous mixture of socialism and world government. These twin enemies of freedom won him favor with Irving Kristol, the self-described “Godfather of Neoconservatism.” As a regular columnist for Kristol’s The National Interest, the increasingly popular Krauthammer called for “a conservative welfare state.” Opting for what amounts to a political madhouse should have earned him an award for “Oxymoron of the Year.” A place on a Fox News television show plus exposure in the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post followed.
In 1993, this increasingly popular journalist wrote of the need for “food stamps and Medicare, as well as a children’s cash allowance” for the offspring of unwed mothers. He called for Europe, the United States, and Japan to create a “super-sovereign’ entity that would be “economically, culturally, and politically hegemonic in the world.” Bringing that goal to fruition, he admitted, “would require the conscious depreciation not only of American sovereignty but of the notion of sovereignty in general.” It would, of course, also mean scrapping the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution. Such a stance indicates that Charles Krauthammer was an enemy of traditional Americans but it made him a favorite of liberals and earned him a Pulitzer Prize and other awards from the left and the squishy right.
Krauthammer feverishly promoted President George W. Bush’s 2003 war against Iraq. In league with Vice President Dick Cheney, he cheered the reentry of U.S. forces and the capture and demise of Saddam Hussein. The winner of that struggle turned out to be militant Islamists. Iraq under Hussein had been home for1.5 million Christians and now has approximately 300,000. And most of these beleaguered native Iraqis would flee if they could.
Charles Krauthammer used his writing talent for causes and groups that any American of the old school has always shunned. While there were men and women in his chosen profession who were more stridently on the left, describing him as a conservative would be an absurdity.
John F. McManus is president emeritus of The John Birch Society.