Barry MacDonald - Editorial
Things That Matter, Three Decades of Passions: Pastimes and Politics, by Charles Krauthammer. Crown Publishing Group, Copyright 2013, ISBN 978-0-385-34917-8, pp. 388, $28.
In a city, Washington D.C., where politicians who are motivated by principles are few and far between, where pundits and journalists are politically correct (in a bigoted sort of way), where many manipulate power to advance themselves, but few take the betterment of all Americans to heart, Charles Krauthammer enunciates sincerely held and skillfully-elaborated conservative views.
In a city flowing with bureaucratic data and regulation - from the Environmental Protection Agency or Health and Human Services for instance - overwhelming the ordinary, intelligent Americans' comprehension (are these bureaucrats truthful or are they skewing the data for their own benefit?) Charles Krauthammer provides reliable information. Charles is the expert who holds the "experts" accountable.
In a policy debate involving intricate history and a multitude of facts, Charles is never at a loss. His fund of knowledge seems inexhaustible.
In a nation, the United States, weary of fancy, lawyerly talk, Charles displays sharp intellect and direct language. He exudes dignity, showing respect for those who disagree with him but at the same time he is capable, when encountering a politician or pundit bantering arrogance, falsehood, or foolishness, of lashing to the point of ridicule his target with exactly the right answer, and doing so with a calm and courteous manner. Charles can eviscerate a faulty talking point with rapier wit and an astounding economy of words: punctured egos deflate like air coming out of a balloon.
In a cynical, sour, left-wing culture that promotes self-indulgence and imprudence, Charles exhibits poise and restraint quite remarkable for a man who has worked in Washington D.C. for three decades. He hasn't fallen captive to the lures of money, prestige, and power that are so mesmerizing in the city where vast sums of taxpayer money are divvyed up.
It can't be said that Charles Krauthammer is modest, because he does enjoy displaying his intelligence, but he does so with sangfroid and humor, and he always seems more admirable than his opponents. He has a swashbuckling spirit, confident, and deeply committed to his ideals. While too many Republican politicians or spokespeople habitually assume defensive postures, Charles is relentlessly on offense. He is an American character who most Americans from any other previous period of our history would admire, because he is courageous, and courage has always been an American virtue.
Only now, because our American zeitgeist is permeated with left-wing ideology, is Charles Krauthammer liable to be underappreciated.
Charles pushes forward a good cause. He believes in the benevolence of America, the rightness of capitalism and free markets, individual rights, the rule of law, and the need to limit government power. There just are too few public intellectuals today promoting conservative views.
Charles Krauthammer reaches millions of Americans. He writes for the Washington Post, and his column is syndicated throughout American newspapers. I love watching Charles during Bret Baier's "Special Report" on Fox News (5:00 p.m. Central Time, Monday through Friday). In the last twenty minutes of the show Charles usually dominates the round-table discussion among pundits.
Americans have lost respect for and trust in our political leaders. Most of us believe America is headed in the wrong direction, but we can't agree on where we should go - Charles Krauthammer points the way.
If our Republican form of government is to survive, we need people who can articulate principles of limited government. We need such people in prominent positions who can reach millions of Americans, because ordinary, intelligent Americans these days are bereft of essential knowledge.
They don't know that the writers of the U.S. Constitution framed a system intended to protect Americans from the overbearing and unjust impositions of government. Americans don't know how historically unique the Constitution is. Never before had a people the opportunity for a fresh start on new continent, with a gathering of educated and idealistic Founders who prized liberty.
Intelligent Americans today should know that before the U.S. Constitution, people lived at the mercy of their rulers. But the U.S. Constitution ushered in, and sought to practice, new dimensions of freedom for the individual.
The pairing of Justice and Liberty is the enduring strength of the U.S. Constitution, and all intelligent Americans should know it.
But the vast bulk of Americans don't recognize the value of Liberty and Justice, because the knowledge of their importance isn't being successfully transmitted through generations. American government for decades, at the state and federal level, has been bribing Americans. We give up liberties, little by little, in exchange for government benefits that we did not earn.
Americans are losing the capacity to think and act as freeborn individuals, and we, not knowing what we are giving up, are setting above us a behemoth of overseers and regulators. Our "leaders" are growing in arrogance, and their grasp of control over vast areas of our individual lives takes the breath away.
Charles' book, Things That Matter, covers many topics: "The Good and the Great," "Manners," "Pride and Prejudices," "Follies," "Passions and Pastimes," "Heaven and Earth," "Conundrums," "Body and Soul," "Man and God," "Memory and Monuments," "The Jewish Question, Again," "The Age of Holy Terror," "The Age to Come."
The book is humorous and profound. Charles gives the focus of his attention predominately to politics because, as he points out, if people don't get their politics correctly, as the Germans didn't in the 1930s, they are heading for disaster. We should pay attention. *