Charles Krauthammer

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Charles Krauthammer (born March 13, 1950) is an American Pulitzer Prize-winning syndicated columnist, author, political commentator, and physician. His weekly column is syndicated to more than 400 newspapers worldwide, including The Washington Post. He is a contributing editor to the Weekly Standard and a nightly panelist on Fox News' Special Report with Bret Baier. He was a weekly panelist on the PBS news program Inside Washington from 1990 until it ceased production in December 2013.

Quotes[edit]

  • Every two years the American politics industry fills the airwaves with the most virulent, scurrilous, wall-to-wall character assassination of nearly every political practitioner in the country — and then declares itself puzzled that America has lost trust in its politicians.
    • As quoted in Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War that is Destroying America (2007) by Cal Thomas and Bob Beckel
  • There is no comparing the brutality and cynicism of today’s pop culture with that of forty years ago: from High Noon to Robocop is a long descent.
    • International Herald Tribune, Paris, 31 October 1990, as cited in The Columbia Dictionary of Quotations (1993), ed. Andrews, Columbia University Press, p. 711 : ISBN 0231071949
  • In science, modesty and genius do not coexist well together. (In Washington, modesty and cleverness don’t.) Einstein is perhaps the most famous exception to the rule.
  • Courage is not a quality one normally associates with mathematicians. Yet it should apply to people who work in their attics in secret for seven years without cease on a problem that has eluded the greatest mathematical minds since first proposed in 1637.
  • Of all the ideologies remaining in the world in the debris of the collapsed Soviet empire, fundamentalist Islam is the only one that, at least in our lifetime, appears to pose a serious problem to the West. It's the only expressly anti-Western ideology of any importance in the world and it means to destroy the Western position, Western institutions, Western culture, wherever it can. This occurred in Iran, and will happen again in Algeria. Should fundamentalists take power in Egypt, there will be profound geopolitical consequences. A region very important to us will be destabilized, with many problems resulting. Once that happens, we'll be asking ourselves why we weren't worrying about this years ago.
  • There's something in the Western psyche, especially the Western liberal, pluralistic psyche, that finds it impossible to believe that radical ideologues mean what they say. We didn't believe communists or fascists, and in the early days we found it impossible to believe the Khomeinists. Yet these are people who do believe what they say. Attempts to moderate their behavior invariably fail; these are exercises in our heads. We need a policy of strong opposition to the fundamentalists and of strong support for those Muslims who stand up to them.
  • In the Middle Ages people took potions for their ailments. In the 19th century they took snake oil. Citizens of today’s shiny, technological age are too modern for that. They take antioxidants and extract of cactus instead.
  • Israel is different. In Israel the great temptation of modernity – assimilation – simply does not exist. Israel is the very embodiment of Jewish continuity. It is the only nation on earth that inhabits the same land, bears the same name, speaks the same language, and worships the same God that it did 3,000 years ago. You dig the soil and you find pottery from Davidic times, coins from Bar Kokhba, and 2,000-year-old scrolls written in a script remarkably like the one that today advertises ice cream at the corner candy store.
  • Highfalutin moral principles are impossible guides to foreign policy. At worst, they reflect hypocrisy; at best, extreme naivete.
  • I don't really care what a public figure thinks. I care about what he does. Let God probe his inner heart.
  • Obsession with self is the motif of our time.
  • When under attack, no country is obligated to collect permission slips from allies to strike back.
    • Column, March 4, 2002, "Who Cares What Europeans Think?" at jewishworldreview.com.
    • Published March 1, 2002 in The Washington Post under the title "The Axis of Petulance", as excerpted in The Iraq Papers (2010), John Ehrenburg, Oxford University Press, Chapter 2 : Organizing For Preemptive War, Document 2.3 ; ISBN 0195398580
    • Krauthammer's syndicated column is frequently published, and archived, under different column titles and publication dates by various publications and online content providers.
  • The way I see it, dogs had this big meeting, oh, maybe 20,000 years ago. A huge meeting – an international convention with delegates from everywhere. And that's when they decided that humans were the up-and-coming species and dogs were going to throw their lot in with them. The decision was obviously not unanimous. The wolves and dingoes walked out in protest.
    • Essay, June 16, 2003, originally published in Time magazine, "Of Dogs and Men" at mynameis roxie.com.
  • In an essay 10 years ago, I pointed out that it is utterly logical for polygamy rights to follow gay rights. After all, if traditional marriage is defined as the union of (1) two people of (2) opposite gender, and if, as advocates of gay marriage insist, the gender requirement is nothing but prejudice, exclusion and an arbitrary denial of one's autonomous choices in love, then the first requirement – the number restriction (two and only two) – is a similarly arbitrary, discriminatory and indefensible denial of individual choice.
  • My proposition is this: A vast number of Americans who oppose legalization and fear new waves of immigration would change their minds if we could radically reduce new – i.e., future – illegal immigration. Forget employer sanctions. Build a barrier. It is simply ridiculous to say it cannot be done. If one fence won't do it, then build a second 100 yards behind it. And then build a road for patrols in between. Put in cameras. Put in sensors. Put out lots of patrols.
  • In explaining any puzzling Washington phenomenon, always choose stupidity over conspiracy, incompetence over cunning. Anything else gives them too much credit.
  • The new Detroit churning out Schumer-mobiles will make the steel mills of the Soviet Union look the model of efficiency.
  • Obama was quite serious when he said he was going to change the world. And now he has a national crisis, a personal mandate, a pliant Congress, a desperate public -- and, at his disposal, the greatest pot of money in galactic history.
  • If you’re very very rich, you can buy your Senate seat by spending as much of your money as you want. Meanwhile, your poor plebian opponent is running around groveling for the small contributions allowed by law. Hence the Corzines and the Kohls, who parachute into Congress seemingly out of nowhere. Having given this leg up to the rich, we should resist packing our legislatures with yet more privileged parachutists, the well-born. True, the Brits did it that way for centuries, but with characteristic honesty. They established a house of Parliament exclusively for high-born twits and ensconced them there for life. There they chatter away in supreme irrelevance deep into their dotage. Problem is that the U.S. Senate retains House of Commons powers even as it develops a House of Lords membership.
  • Some geopolitical conflicts are morally complicated. The Israel-Gaza war is not. It possesses a moral clarity not only rare but excruciating. […] For Hamas, the only thing more prized than dead Jews are dead Palestinians.
  • In these most recent 20 years -- the alleged winter of our disrespect of the Islamic world -- America did not just respect Muslims, it bled for them. It engaged in five military campaigns, every one of which involved -- and resulted in -- the liberation of a Muslim people: Bosnia, Kosovo, Kuwait, Afghanistan and Iraq. The two Balkan interventions -- as well as the failed 1992-93 Somalia intervention to feed starving African Muslims (43 Americans were killed) -- were humanitarian exercises of the highest order, there being no significant U.S. strategic interest at stake. In these 20 years, this nation has done more for suffering and oppressed Muslims than any nation, Muslim or non-Muslim, anywhere on Earth. Why are we apologizing?
  • Science has everything to say about what is possible. Science has nothing to say about what is permissible.
  • If Obama has his way, the change that is coming is a new America: "fair," leveled and social democratic. Obama didn't get elected to warranty your muffler. He's here to warranty your life.
  • Torture is an impermissible evil. Except under two circumstances. The first is the ticking time bomb. An innocent's life is at stake. The bad guy you have captured possesses information that could save this life. He refuses to divulge. In such a case, the choice is easy.
  • Obama offered Muslims a careful admonition about women's rights, noting how denying women education impoverishes a country – balanced, of course, with this: "Issues of women's equality are by no means simply an issue for Islam." Example? "The struggle for women's equality continues in many aspects of American life." Well, yes. On the one hand, there certainly is some American university where the women's softball team has received insufficient Title IX funds – while, on the other hand, Saudi women showing ankle are beaten in the street, Afghan school girls have acid thrown in their faces, and Iranian women are publicly stoned to death for adultery. (Gays as well – but then again we have Prop 8.) We all have our shortcomings, our national foibles. Who's to judge?
  • Look up from your BlackBerry one night. That is the moon. On it are exactly 12 sets of human footprints -- untouched, unchanged, abandoned. For the first time in history, the moon is not just a mystery and a muse, but a nightly rebuke. A vigorous young president once summoned us to this new frontier, calling the voyage "the most hazardous and dangerous and greatest adventure on which man has ever embarked." And so we did it. We came. We saw. Then we retreated. How could we?
  • Except for the demented orphan, the living will is quite beside the point. The one time it really is essential is if you think your fractious family will be only too happy to hasten your demise to get your money. That’s what the law is good at – protecting you from murder and theft. But that is a far cry from assuring a peaceful and willed death, which is what most people imagine living wills are about.
  • Affluent enviros are all for wind farms, until one is proposed that might mar the serenity of a sail from the crew-necked precincts near Nantucket Sound. Then it's clean energy for thee, not for me.
  • The question of whether America is in decline cannot be answered yes or no. There is no yes or no. Both answers are wrong, because the assumption that somehow there exists some predetermined inevitable trajectory, the result of uncontrollable forces, is wrong. Nothing is inevitable. Nothing is written. For America today, decline is not a condition. Decline is a choice. Two decades into the unipolar world that came about with the fall of the Soviet Union, America is in the position of deciding whether to abdicate or retain its dominance. Decline – or continued ascendancy – is in our hands.
  • The UN is worse than disaster. The UN creates conflicts. Look at the disgraceful UN Human Rights Council. It transmits norms which are harmful, anti-liberty, and anti-Semitic among other things. The world would be better off in its absence.
  • In the course of his presidency, Obama has gone from an almost magical charismatic figure to an ordinary politician. Ordinary. Average. His approval ratings are roughly equal to what the last five presidents' were at the same time in their first term. […] He will not be the great transformer he imagines himself to be. A president like others -- with successes and failures.
  • What made Obama unique was that he was the ultimate charismatic politician -- the most unknown stranger ever to achieve the presidency in the United States. No one knew who he was, he came out of nowhere, he had this incredible persona that floated him above the fray, destroyed Hillary, took over the Democratic Party and became president. This is truly unprecedented: A young unknown with no history, no paper trail, no well-known associates, self-created.
  • From the very beginning, President Obama has relentlessly tried to play down and deny the nature of the terrorist threat we continue to face. […] Hence, Guantanamo will close, CIA interrogators will face a special prosecutor, and Khalid Sheik Mohammed will bask in a civilian trial in New York – a trifecta of political correctness and image management. And just to make sure even the dimmest understand, Obama banishes the term "war on terror." […] Obama may have declared the war over. Unfortunately, al-Qaeda has not. Which gives new meaning to the term "asymmetric warfare."
  • Ideas matter. Legislative proposals matter. Slick campaigns and dazzling speeches can work for a while, but the magic always wears off.
  • To his credit, Obama didn't just come to Washington to be someone. Like Reagan, he came to Washington to do something -- to introduce a powerful social democratic stream into America's deeply and historically individualist polity.
  • It is an old liberal theme that conservative ideas, being red in tooth and claw, cannot possibly emerge from any notion of the public good.
  • For liberals, the observation that 'the peasants are revolting' is a pun. For conservatives, it is cause for uncharacteristic optimism. No matter how far the ideological pendulum swings in the short term, in the end the bedrock common sense of the American people will prevail.
  • Obama’s NASA budget perfectly captures the difference between Kennedy's liberalism and Obama's. Kennedy's was an expansive, bold, outward-looking summons, Obama's is a constricted inward-looking call to retreat. Fifty years ago, Kennedy opened the New Frontier. Obama has just shut it.
  • The joy of losing consists in this: Where there are no expectations, there is no disappointment.
  • Baseball is a slow, boring, complex, cerebral game that doesn't lend itself to histrionics. You "take in" a baseball game, something odd to say about a football or basketball game, with the clock running and the bodies flying.
  • As the romance of manned space exploration has waned, the drive today is to find our living, thinking counterparts in the universe. For all the excitement, however, the search betrays a profound melancholy – a lonely species in a merciless universe anxiously awaits an answering voice amid utter silence.
  • For all the sublimity of art, physics, music, mathematics, and other manifestations of human genius, everything depends on the mundane, frustrating, often debased vocation known as politics (and its most exacting subspecialty – statecraft). Because if we don't get politics right, everything else risks extinction.
  • An oil crisis looms, prices are spiking – and our president is extolling algae. After Solyndra, Keystone and promises of seaweed in their gas tanks, Americans sense a president so ideologically antipathetic to fossil fuels – which we possess in staggering abundance – that he is utterly unserious about the real world of oil in which the rest of us live.
  • This administration came out opposing military tribunals, wanting to try Khalid Sheik Mohammed in New York, reading the Christmas Day bomber his Miranda rights and trying mightily […] to close Guantanamo. Yet alongside this exquisite delicacy about the rights of terrorists is the campaign to kill them in their beds. You festoon your prisoners with rights — but you take no prisoners. The morality is perverse. Which is why the results are so mixed.
  • The greatest threat to a robust, autonomous civil society is the ever-growing Leviathan state and those like Obama who see it as the ultimate expression of the collective. Obama compounds the fallacy by declaring the state to be the font of entrepreneurial success. How so? It created the infrastructure – roads, bridges, schools, Internet – off which we all thrive. Absurd. We don't credit the Swiss postal service with the Special Theory of Relativity because it transmitted Einstein’s manuscript to the Annalen der Physik.
  • We live in an entertainment culture soaked in graphic, often sadistic, violence. Older folks find themselves stunned by what a desensitized youth finds routine, often amusing. It’s not just movies. Young men sit for hours pulling video-game triggers, mowing down human beings en masse without pain or consequence. And we profess shock when a small cadre of unstable, deeply deranged, dangerously isolated young men go out and enact the overlearned narrative.
  • It’s the jihadists who decided to make the world a battlefield and to wage war in perpetuity. Until they abandon the field, what choice do we have but to carry the fight to them?
  • I’m not against a global pact to reduce CO2. Indeed, I favor it. But in the absence of one — and there is no chance of getting one in the foreseeable future — there is no point in America committing economic suicide to no effect on climate change, the reversing of which, after all, is the alleged point of the exercise. For a president to propose this with such aggressive certainty is incomprehensible. It is the starkest of examples of belief that is impervious to evidence. And the word for that is faith, not science.
  • It doesn’t take a genius to see what happens when the entitlement state outgrows the economy upon which it rests. The time of Greece, Cyprus, Portugal, Spain, the rest of insolvent social-democratic Europe – and now Detroit – is the time for conservatives to raise the banner of Stein’s Law and yell, ‘Stop.’ You can kick the can down the road, but at some point it disappears over a cliff.
  • The free lunch is the essence of modern liberalism.
  • If a bare majority can change the fundamental rules that govern an institution, then there are no rules. Senate rules today are whatever the majority decides they are that morning. What distinguishes an institution from a flash mob is that its rules endure. They can be changed, of course. But only by significant supermajorities. That’s why constitutional changes require two-thirds of both houses plus three-quarters of the states. If we could make constitutional changes by majority vote, there would be no Constitution. As of today, the Senate effectively has no rules. Congratulations, Harry Reid. Finally, something you will be remembered for.
  • The left is entering a new phase of ideological agitation — no longer trying to win the debate but stopping debate altogether, banishing from public discourse any and all opposition. The proper word for that attitude is totalitarian. It declares certain controversies over and visits serious consequences — from social ostracism to vocational defenestration — upon those who refuse to be silenced.
  • Remember how Democrats were complaining that Republicans were trying to overturn Obamacare, it was somehow unpatriotic, because it was an attack on the law of the land. This law of the land doesn’t even exist. It exists in Obama’s head. It’s whatever he thinks. He wakes up in the morning and decides what the law is gonna be.
    • Fox News Special Report, February 12, 2014 : panel discussion ; video clip at mediaite.com.

Things That Matter: Three Decades of Passions, Pastimes and Politics[edit]

Things That Matter: Three Decades of Passions, Pasttimes and Politics (c. 2013), Krauthammer, Random House LLC, ISBN 0385349181
  • Politics, the crooked timber of our communal lives, dominates everything because, in the end, everything – high and low and, most especially, high – lives or dies by politics. You can have the most advanced and efflorescent of cultures. Get your politics wrong, however, and everything stands to be swept away. This is not ancient history. This is Germany 1933. […] Politics is the moat, the walls, beyond which lie the barbarians. Fail to keep them at bay, and everything burns.
    • Introduction.
  • 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.
    • Introduction.
  • To understand the workings of American politics, you have to understand this fundamental law: Conservatives think liberals are stupid. Liberals think conservatives are evil.
    • Chapter 3 : Pride and Prejudices, "The Central Axiom of Partisan Politics".
    • From his syndicated column, originally published on July 26, 2002, "Stupid vs. Evil?" at www.townhall.com.
  • We no longer have to search for a name for the post-Cold War era. It will henceforth be known as the age of terrorism. Organized terror has shown what it can do; execute the single greatest massacre in American history, shut down the greatest power on the globe and send its leaders into underground shelters. All this, without even resorting to chemical, biological or nuclear weapons of mass destruction. This is a formidable enemy. To dismiss it as a bunch of cowards perpetrating senseless acts of violence is complacent nonsense. People willing to kill thousands of innocents while they kill themselves are not cowards. They are deadly, vicious warriors and need to be treated as such. Nor are their acts of violence senseless. They have a very specific aim: to avenge alleged historical wrongs and to bring the great American satan to its knees.
    • Chapter 14 : The Age of Holy Terror, "September 11, 2001".
    • From his syndicated column, originally published on September 12, 2001, "This is Not Crime, This is War" at www.townhall.com.

External links[edit]

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