Free-world mourns passing of Charles Krauthammer, 68, socio-political analyst

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, expressed deep sorrow Friday over the passing of conservative pundit Charles Krauthammer.

"I was profoundly saddened to hear the news of the death of Charles Krauthammer, a noble and extraordinary spirit, who was one of Israel’s greatest friends," tweeted Netanyahu. "The news of your illness broke my heart," he had written in the letter. "I am overcome with grief. I am awed by your courage. For over half my lifetime, since I first met you in Washington in 1982, we have been like brothers. We didn't need to meet to understand each other. You understood everything."

The Prime Minister praised Krauthammer as "a proud American and a proud son of the Jewish people," and said – "you harnessed your formidable intellect to defend liberty and the Jewish state. No one has done this with greater clarity, consistency and conviction. Your writings will forever attest to that."

"Drawing on the wellsprings of your immense learning, you have slain the hypocrisy and slanders of the vilifiers of Israel and America with unflappable precision and unmatched erudition."
"I will miss you, Charles, as I miss a brother. I shall always remember you as a fearless fighter for truth, the best of the best our people has produced."

On Charles Krauthammer, my friend, mentor and lodestar | by Marc Thiessen, Opinion, The Inquirer, June 13.  (Marc Thiessen writes a twice-weekly column for the Washington Post on foreign and domestic policy and contributes to the PostPartisan blog).

"…(in February 2004) Charles delivered an enthralling lecture, which to this day is the best expression I have ever heard of America’s role in the world. He dismissed the idea of American empire, declaring, “It is absurd to apply the word to a people whose first instinct upon arriving on anyone’s soil is to demand an exit strategy.” Unlike Rome or Britain or other classical empires, he said, Americans do not hunger for territory. “We like it here. We like our McDonald’s. We like our football. We like our rock and roll. We’ve got the Grand Canyon and Graceland. . . . We’ve got everything. And if that’s not enough, we’ve got Vegas — which is a facsimile of everything. . . . If we want Chinese or Indian or Italian, we go to the food court.”

Marc Thiessen
We are not an imperial power, Charles said, but a commercial republic that, “by pure accident of history, has been designated custodian of the international system.” How to meet that responsibility? Charles systematically took apart the competing schools of foreign policy: isolationism (which he called an “ideology of fear”); liberal internationalism (which supports force only in cases “devoid of national interest” and seeks to constrain American power through “fictional legalisms”); and realism (which believes in American power but “fails because it offers no vision”).

In their place, Charles offered what he called democratic realism, which “sees as the engine of history not the will to power, but the will to freedom.” America, he said, “will support democracy everywhere, but we will commit blood and treasure only in places where there is a strategic necessity.” Put another way, he said, we will intervene “where it counts.” Germany and Japan counted. So did the Soviet Union. So does the battle against Islamic totalitarianism.

I realized that night: That’s not only what I think; that’s how I want to think. That’s how I want to write. I want to be like Charles Krauthammer.

A few years later, when I asked his advice for my new Post column, Charles invited me to his office. What a thrill to finally meet him in person! He was exactly as I expected: gracious, funny and kind. He shared with me his writing process, how he came up with ideas and wrote — and rewrote — his columns, until every word was perfect. And then he gave me one last piece of advice. “One day, they are going to ask you to write two columns a week,” he said. “Don’t do it. No one can write two good columns a week.” I followed his advice . . . until this year. (Sorry, Charles.)

In the years that followed, I was blessed to spend countless hours with Charles waiting to go on the air at Fox News, talking about everything from conservative philosophy to the rise of President Trump. He is so brilliant, so immersed in the debate, that he has never needed to prepare very much. One day, I asked him what his topic was. “I have no idea,” he said with a twinkle in his eye. I had to spend hours preparing to be half as good as Charles. I’m still working on it. Even before I knew him, he was my lodestar — and he always will be."

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Watch "Democratic Realism: An American Foreign Policy for a Unipolar World"

"Charles Krauthammer’s Democratic Vocation" by Bret Stephens, Opinion Columnist, N.Y Times  June 15, 2018

Charles Krauthammer, the Washington Post columnist, announced last week that he is stricken with terminal cancer and has only weeks to live. Since then, the tributes have poured forth, and rightly so. Charles taught generations of readers and fellow writers how to reason, persuade, live — and now how to die.

These things are all connected because wisdom and goodness are entwined and, deep down, perhaps identical. Of Charles’s goodness — his qualities as a father, friend and colleague; his courage and resilience as a man — the tributes from people who know him much better than I do richly testify.

Bret Stephens
(photo: Media Matters)
Of his wisdom, we have 38 years’ worth of columns, essays, speeches and spoken commentaries. If you lean conservative, as I do, the experience of a Krauthammer column was almost invariably the same: You’d read the piece and think, “that’s exactly it.” Not just “interesting” or “well written” or “mostly right.” Week after week, his was the clearest and smartest expression of the central truth of nearly every subject: a bad Supreme Court nomination, the joys and humiliations of chess, the future of geopolitics.

And if you don’t lean conservative? Then Charles’s writing served an even more useful purpose. Since I’m not aware of any precise antonym to the term “straw man,” I hereby nominate the noun “krauthammer” to serve the function, defined in two ways: (1) as the strongest possible counterargument to your opinion; (2) a person of deep substance and complete integrity.

Charles could write political columns with the best of them, but the game for him was philosophical, not partisan. His conservatism was never about getting Republicans elected in the fall. It was about conserving the institutions, values and temper of a free and humane world.

How? By getting his readers to raise their sights above the parapets of momentary passion and parochial interest. This didn’t mean that all of his calls were right — columnizing isn’t clairvoyance, especially under deadline pressure — but he did get readers to think carefully about the great things so frequently at stake in seemingly small questions. To read Charles was to be invited into a running conversation about the meaning, foundations and aims of politics in the grand sense.

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