Charles Krauthammer, prominent conservative voice, dies

In this March 31, 2015, file photo, Charles Krauthammer speaks at a news conference in Corpus Christi, Texas. The conservative writer has died. His death was announced June 21, 2018. He was 68. | File photo by Gabe Hernandez/Corpus Christi Caller-Times via Associated Press, St. George News

NEW YORK (AP) — Charles Krauthammer, the Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and pundit who helped shape and occasionally dissented from the conservative movement as he evolved from “Great Society” Democrat to Iraq War cheerleader to denouncer of Donald Trump, died Thursday. He was 68.

His death was announced by two organizations that were longtime employers, Fox News Channel and The Washington Post.

Krauthammer had said publicly a year ago he was being treated for a cancerous tumor in his abdomen and earlier this month revealed that he likely had just weeks to live.

“I leave this life with no regrets,” Krauthammer wrote in The Washington Post, where his column had run since 1984. “It was a wonderful life — full and complete with the great loves and great endeavors that make it worth living. I am sad to leave, but I leave with the knowledge that I lived the life that I intended.”

Sometimes scornful, sometimes reflective, he was awarded a Pulitzer in 1987 for “his witty and insightful” commentary and was an influential voice among Republicans, whether through his syndicated column or his appearances on Fox News Channel. He was most associated with Brit Hume’s nightly newscast and stayed with it when Bret Baier took over in 2009.

Krauthammer is credited with coining the term “The Reagan Doctrine” for President Reagan’s policy of aiding anti-Communist movements worldwide. He was a leading advocate for the Iraq War and a prominent critic of President Barack Obama, whom he praised for his “first-class intellect and first-class temperament” and denounced for having a “highly suspect” character.

Krauthammer was a former Harvard medical student who graduated even after he was paralyzed from the neck down because of a diving board accident, continuing his studies from his hospital bed. He was a Democrat in his youth and his political engagement dated back to 1976, when he handed out leaflets for Henry Jackson’s unsuccessful presidential campaign.

But through the 1980s and beyond, Krauthammer followed a journey akin to such neo-conservative predecessors as Irving Kristol and Norman Podhoretz, turning against his old party on foreign and domestic issues. He aligned with Republicans on everything from confrontation with the Soviet Union to rejection of the “Great Society” programs enacted during the 1960s.

“As I became convinced of the practical and theoretical defects of the social-democratic tendencies of my youth, it was but a short distance to a philosophy of restrained, free-market governance that gave more space and place to the individual and to the civil society that stands between citizen and state,” he wrote in the introduction to “Things That Matter,” a million-selling compilation of his writings published in 2013.

For the Post, Time magazine, The New Republic and other publications, Krauthammer wrote on a wide range of subjects, and in “Things That Matter” listed chess, baseball, “the innocence of dogs” and “the cunning of cats” among his passions. As a psychiatrist in the 1970s, he did groundbreaking research on bipolar disorder.

But he found nothing could live apart from government and the civic realm. “Science, medicine, art, poetry, architecture” and other fields were “fundamentally subordinate. In the end, they must bow to the sovereignty of politics.”

Ever blunt in his criticisms, Krauthammer was an “intense disliker” the liberal columnist E.J. Dionne told Politico in 2009. And opponents had words for him. Christopher Hitchens once called him the “newest of the neocon mini-windbags,” with the “arduous job, in an arduous time, of being an unpredictable conformist.”

He was attacked for his politics and for his predictions. He was so confident of quick success in Iraq he initially labeled the 2003 invasion “The Three Week War” and defended the conflict for years. He also backed the George W. Bush administration’s use of torture as an “uncontrolled experiment” carried out “sometimes clumsily, sometimes cruelly, indeed, sometimes wrongly. But successfully. It kept us safe.”

And the former president praised Krauthammer after hearing of his death.

“For decades, Charles’ words have strengthened our democracy,” George W. Bush said in a statement. “His work was far-reaching and influential – and while his voice will be deeply missed, his ideas and values will always be a part of our country.”

Krauthammer was sure that Obama would lose in 2008 because of lingering fears from the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, and foresaw Mitt Romney defeating him in 2012.

But he prided himself on his rejection of orthodoxy and took on Republicans, too, observing during a Fox special in 2013 that “If you’re going to leave the medical profession because you think you have something to say, you betray your whole life if you don’t say what you think and if you don’t say it honestly and bluntly.”

He criticized the death penalty and rejected intelligent design as “today’s tarted-up version of creationism.”

In 2005, he was widely cited as a key factor in convincing Bush to rescind the Supreme Court nomination of the president’s friend and legal adviser Harriet Miers, whom Krauthammer and others said lacked the necessary credentials. And he differed with such Fox commentators as Bill O’Reilly and Laura Ingraham as he found himself among the increasingly isolated “Never Trumpers,” Republicans regarding the real estate baron and former “Apprentice” star as a vulgarian unfit for the presidency.

“I used to think Trump was an 11-year-old, an undeveloped schoolyard bully,” he wrote in August 2016, around the time Trump officially became the Republican nominee. “I was off by about 10 years. His needs are more primitive, an infantile hunger for approval and praise, a craving that can never be satisfied. He lives in a cocoon of solipsism where the world outside himself has value — indeed exists — only insofar as it sustains and inflates him.”

Trump, of course, tweeted about Krauthammer, who “pretends to be a smart guy, but if you look at his record, he isn’t. A dummy who is on too many Fox shows. An overrated clown!”

Krauthammer married Robyn Trethewey, an artist and former attorney, in 1974. They had a son, Daniel, who also became a columnist and commentator.

The son of Jewish immigrants from Europe, Krauthammer was born in New York City and moved with his family to Montreal when he was 5, growing up in a French speaking home. His path to political writing was unexpected. First, at McGill University, he became editor in chief of the student newspaper after his predecessor was ousted over what Krauthammer called his “mindless, humorless Maoism.”

In the late 1970s, while a psychiatric resident at Massachusetts General Hospital, a professor with whom he had researched manic depression was appointed to a mental health agency created by President Jimmy Carter. Krauthammer went, too, began writing for The New Republic and was soon recruited to write speeches for Carter’s vice president and 1980 running mate, Walter Mondale.

Carter was defeated by Reagan and on Jan. 20, 1981, Reagan’s inauguration day, Krauthammer formally joined The New Republic as a writer and editor.

“These quite fantastic twists and turns have given me a profound respect for serendipity,” he wrote in 2013. “A long forgotten, utterly trivial student council fight brought me to journalism. A moment of adolescent anger led me to the impulsive decision to quit political studies and enroll in medical school. A decade later, a random presidential appointment having nothing to do with me brought me to a place where my writing and public career could begin.

“When a young journalist asks me today, ‘How do I get to a nationally syndicated columnist?’ I have my answer: ‘First, go to medical school.'”

Written by HILLEL ITALIE, AP National Writer

AP Television Writer David Bauder contributed to this report.

Email: news@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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35 Comments

  • comments June 21, 2018 at 11:34 pm

    Garbage in, garbage out. I actually never saw a person that looked more like the caricaturized version of Dr Frankenstein’s monster than Krauthammer. Maybe someone can pump some voltage into him and bring him back! Ya never know! 😉 otherwise good riddance.

    I’ve got some extra crying towels for the r-wing nutters and Krauthammer fans–they aint fancy, and they’re dirty because I used them out in the garage, and a few may smell like dog urine, but they’ll soak up them r-wing nutter tears just fine 😉

    cheers all 😉

    • comments June 21, 2018 at 11:35 pm

      Dr Frankenstein aint ever around when you need him most, huh? hahahahaha 😉

      • John June 21, 2018 at 11:56 pm

        You are one bitter disrespectful jerk, grow up moron!

      • John June 22, 2018 at 12:05 am

        BTW he was more of a man than you could ever hope to be, loser! What’s the matter? Did your blow up doll tell you to get lost?

      • Southpaw June 22, 2018 at 11:43 am

        The left is and has always been synonymous with one word …. hate.

        They can’t be reasoned with. They refuse to be debated. They refuse to have meaningful discussion. They refuse to listen.

        They can only hate.

        The good news is. . . no rational person takes them seriously.

        • PatriotLiberal June 22, 2018 at 12:27 pm

          “They can’t be reasoned with. They refuse to be debated. They refuse to have meaningful discussion. They refuse to listen.”
          You know what’s funny? I find myself saying the same thing about you right-wingers. The problem with politics today is that, regardless of political party, many people of all stripes think their way is the ONLY way and everyone who doesn’t see it their way is just plain stupid. I admit, Ive fallen victim to that way of thinking a time or two myself. I try not to, but it does happen.

          In my opinion the media of all types doesn’t help. Our society has chosen to replace News programs that displayed some semblance of Journalistic integrity with “opinion programming” masquerading as News . That’s not the worst though, People are drawn to others who think similarly. The past, say, 25 years or so has seen a large rise in the internet and with it the ability for nut jobs of all stripes to make an impact. Nutters who 30 years ago might have only been able to “influence” a neighbor or, at most, 10-20 of their friends now have a potential world-wide audience through sites like Youtube, Facebook, Instagram, etc. It’s a really scary thought.

    • bikeandfish June 22, 2018 at 7:08 am

      You are going to insult a guy who just died of cancer and was paralyzed from the neck down as looking like “Frankenstein”? Do you have any heart?

    • No Filter June 22, 2018 at 2:00 pm

      ‘Womp womp’ isn’t that how you right wing lunatics say it these days.

      • Utahguns June 22, 2018 at 4:46 pm

        Git along little doggie…..

      • John June 22, 2018 at 5:13 pm

        clueless cloggy the PUTZ makes another irrelevant comment…

  • Not_So_Much June 22, 2018 at 5:59 am

    RIP

  • bikeandfish June 22, 2018 at 7:13 am

    To be honest, I never knew he was paralyzed but I only knew of him later in his life and television crews have done well at not focusing on such details. I don’t need to politically agree with the guy to respect his achievements and recognize the fact that he mustered alot of grace and strength in the face of the beast that is cancer.

  • PatriotLiberal June 22, 2018 at 7:52 am

    “I leave this life with no regrets,”… “It was a wonderful life — full and complete with the great loves and great endeavors that make it worth living. I am sad to leave, but I leave with the knowledge that I lived the life that I intended.”

    I don’t know about anyone else here but I hope I’m able to say those exact words when I finally leave this mortal coil. Rest in Peace, Mr. Krauthammer.

    • johncmiller June 22, 2018 at 7:14 pm

      I’d say spend quality time with your family and keep the commandments and you’ll be right there.

  • Brian June 22, 2018 at 9:33 am

    Charles Krauthammer was an astounding person. He would argue his point vigorously, but do so in a way that never demeaned others and left plenty of room for them to share their opinions on the matter. He is a shining example of how everyone should be in political discourse.

    “Comments”, thank you for unwittingly (and dim-wittingly) providing such a tribute to him. The contrast of your statement and lack of character to his strength and life of character reaffirms just how amazing and rare of a human being he was. Unfortunately tripe like you are a dime a dozen.

    • Badshitzoo June 22, 2018 at 2:05 pm

      I’m curious, what will you say about John McCain when he passes?

      • Utahguns June 22, 2018 at 4:51 pm

        If you have any class, you would say “Rest in Peace”.
        But, it’s apparent to everyone here who has any class that you’re a blithering insolent decaying maggot.

        • comments June 22, 2018 at 6:41 pm

          so, u a john mccain fan then?

          • Badshitzoo June 22, 2018 at 8:28 pm

            No, not so much. I’m more of a Vietnam veterans fan, and I have pretty extensive knowledge of the conflict. I’ve been through McCain’s book, but I’ve been through probably 100+ books on that conflict. I read McCain’s book to learn more about prisoner treatment at the Hanoi Hilton. So yeah, I totally respect him for his service to us. We didn’t even have to ask McCain to go to Vietnam; we had to ask Trump 4x, and 4x he showed up with a doctors excuse! Probably the same freak of a doctor who declared him the “Fittest President in history.”

        • Badshitzoo June 22, 2018 at 6:48 pm

          I wasn’t even talking to you Utahguns; so if you’d like some comeback from me, well, you’ll have to wipe it off your Mummys “chinney-chin-chin!” Why do you test me so?

          • Utahguns June 22, 2018 at 8:46 pm

            That rattling sound…..is that your brain in a matchbox?

          • John June 23, 2018 at 8:44 am

            Named yourself after a bad case of the runs? You expect anybody to give a crap what you say?

  • 42214 June 22, 2018 at 1:01 pm

    Comments, you really showed what a shallow, feckless jerk you are. Keep talking and leave no doubt how dumb you are.

  • Kilroywashere June 22, 2018 at 1:11 pm

    I think Comment’ s posts were more or less a snipe to get people riled up. The funny thing was Krauthammer was more or less a liberal in his youth and then like many people became conservative with older age and accrued wisdom from life experience. I didn’t always agree with him, and he sure got the Donald wrong initially, but I respected his opinion and emotional maturity in broaching particular news subjects. On that note don’t let Comments comments bother you, I have come to the conclusion a long time ago his online persona is borderline sociopathic. I seriously doubt in person he would exhibit such behavioral traits. He’s just playing with people’s heads, so pay no respect, as a cheap shot is simply that. He is funny more often than not, but in this case he is bottom feeding. Peace, love, and may Charles RIP.

  • comments June 22, 2018 at 5:41 pm

    I didn’t expect quite the degree of whining and sulking with this one. Way I see it, public figures are fair game. I don’t put these types of clowns on a pedestal and idolize them or make heroes of them the way a lot of you probably do. If you r-wing nutters want to attack or demean “librul” public figures after their deaths I could care less. I don’t idolize them, so it wouldn’t be personal, and I wouldn’t whine about it like what we’re seeing in this comment stream. Cry and pout over it all you like, but you people need to grow up–stop being little crybabies

    Whenever I saw Krauthammer’s photo next to his little useless opinion pieces, well, it looked just like Frankenstein. what can ya do? 😉

    • John June 22, 2018 at 6:08 pm

      we should change your name to huggie because you are self absorbed and always full of crap!

    • bikeandfish June 23, 2018 at 10:54 am

      That’s a cop out. We can criticize folks like Krauthammer without resorting to petty insults about looks.

      What you have just done is lazy and uncivil, ie a symptom of our problems as a nation.

      • comments June 23, 2018 at 2:12 pm

        I’d say I went quite easy on the ol’ boy. Supporters of the Baby Bush II regime deserve what they get. Frankenstein is gone and I say good riddance. I make no apologies. You and filters need to stop being such little crybabies.

        • bikeandfish June 23, 2018 at 5:08 pm

          There you go again being petty. Criticism = crybaby. At least you provided one element of criticism of Krauthammer instead of completely engaging in juvenile comments.

          • comments June 23, 2018 at 7:40 pm

            lol, thats true. i’ve read enough pieces by the now deceased frankenstein monster to personally dislike him, although i can’t recall specifics (bc they weren’t even worth remembering). The guy really was a windbag–a total opportunist with really no principles.

          • John June 24, 2018 at 2:18 am

            Just like you comments, just like you…a windbag–a total opportunist with really no principles.

  • jaybird June 23, 2018 at 8:28 am

    Its obvious John is a staffer here, censuring many contradictory comments to him. Otherwise he would have been gone long ago for his immature ridiculous con. He wants us to join in the Trump cult drinking the from the same poison he does.

    • John June 23, 2018 at 12:05 pm

      Get back in your cell jailturd! Nobody cares and big bubba is waiting for you!

    • comments June 23, 2018 at 2:15 pm

      John a staffer?! hahahaha. No way they’d set the bar that low. John is hardly fit to scrub turds off toilets, let alone work at a news company. hahahaha 😉

      • John June 23, 2018 at 2:56 pm

        I leave the turds to you janitor boy! hahahahahahahaha!

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