Things That Matter: Three Decades of Passions, Pastimes and Politics
(Crown Forum, 387 pp., $28) [note-I am currently reading this book, and will post my own review sometime soon–the Butcher]
A new collection explains why Charles Krauthammer turned right at the crossroads
Stefan Kanfer writes: TGIF has assumed a new meaning for Charles Krauthammer’s ever-growing legion of fans. Every Friday, with the regularity of a metronome, his column appears in the op-ed section of the Washington Post. It is immediately discussed and analyzed, sent to friends via e-mail and fax, snipped out and attached with refrigerator magnets, and widely quoted in the media.
A famously liberal newspaper would seem an unlikely home for conservative opinion. But the Post has its whimsical side, and so does Krauthammer. Tracking the course of his career, for example, he recalls the question of a wide-eyed reporter: “How do I get to be a nationally syndicated columnist?” The reply: “First go to medical school.” In fact, that’s how the commentator did start on his epic journey. What he neglected to mention, however, were the detours encountered en route to the Post and Fox News.
Educated at McGill University and Oxford, the young Canadian entered Harvard Medical School in 1970. His first year at Harvard had barely begun when he was severely injured in a diving accident. The spinal damage was irreparable; he would never walk again. For a lesser soul this would have meant, at best, years of rehabilitation and a change of profession. But Krauthammer was fiercely ambitious and academically brilliant. Confined to his bed for 14 months, he stayed the course and graduated with his class. After that came a residency in psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital, followed by a move to Washington, D. C. In the early 1980s, while engaged in medical research, he began writing speeches for Vice President Walter Mondale and contributing essays to the New Republic and Time. At that point, Time was at its most schizophrenic. In one issue, readers would find Strobe Talbott writing “How Israel Is Like Iraq.” In another, Krauthammer would object to “the conscious deployment of a double standard directed at the Jewish state and at no other state in the world.”