Charles Krauthammer was surprised when President Barack Obama invited him to the White House last month.
Since Obama took office, the columnist and Fox News contributor has been among the most forceful critics of the president’s policies. Krauthammer’s long been widely read among conservatives, but has recently raised his prominence with unrelenting and searing attacks on the president’s health care plan, proclaiming earlier this month that the “unraveling” of Obamacare, the administration, and the Democratic Senate majority could amount to nothing less than “the collapse of American liberalism.”
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With Obama’s approval rating at an all-time low, and the Republican establishment at odds with the conservative base, Krauthammer had become more than “critic in chief.” Blending high-mindedness with strong conservative values, he has commanded respect on both the extreme and moderate sides of the spectrum, becoming the closest thing the factionalized GOP could have to a spokesperson, a de facto opposition leader for the thinking right.
( Also on POLITICO: Charles Krauthammer: Death of 'liberalism')
But on that October day when a small group of conservative writers gathered for an off-the-record session with Obama, Krauthammer checked his criticism at the gates to the White House.
“I wouldn’t presume to be schooling the president of the United States in his own house on political philosophy,” Krauthammer told POLITICO in a recent interview. “I wouldn’t do it to a friend, let alone to a president who invites me to see him. The role of that encounter is for me as a journalist, as an observer, as an outsider and as a critic to try and get a sense of how his mind works, so I can more accurately understand him and what he does. So it’s not my role to go in there and say ‘You’re a romantic, sir.’”
Such diplomacy goes right to the heart of Krauthammer’s temperament. Despite bold statements and dire predictions, Krauthammer is revered by colleagues on the right and widely respected by those on the left. Fellow pundits call him one of the most important voices in conservatism. Top Republican lawmakers read his columns, as does the President of the United States.
( Also on POLITICO: Charles Krauthammer jabs Chris Matthews)
On Capitol Hill, Krauthammer’s columns are read religiously by Republican members and their staff, according to Congressional aides. “I think many conservatives, including Members of Congress, admire his ability to crystallize their doubts and concerns about the President’s policies in sharp, clear language,” said Michael Steel, spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio). “I feel like the reaction to many of his columns is, ‘That’s exactly what I thought, but he said it better than I ever could.’”
On the broad spectrum of conservative punditry, Krauthammer is a Goldilocks figure. An Oxford-educated and Harvard-trained psychiatrist, he’s not as brash and confrontational as Rush Limbaugh or Bill O’Reilly; yet not as cautious or moderate like David Brooks or David Frum. Krauthammer is, for the thinking conservative, just right: Firm, calm, unequivocal.
“It’s an unusual combination,” Brit Hume, the Fox News veteran who brought Krauthammer to the network in the early 1990s, told POLITICO. “While he intellectually operates at a very high level, he speaks simply and clearly and compellingly. You don’t have to be a genius to know what he’s talking about.”
“There are many people who have extremely firm judgments and opinions — they have 150 a day — but they don’t know anything,” said Bill Kristol, the Weekly Standard editor. “Then there are the people who have been around for a while who mostly hedge and equivocate and don’t want to make a firm judgment. Charles is extremely knowledgeable…but also willing to make very firm pronouncements.”
( Also on POLITICO: Charles Krauthammer: Let disaster unfold)
Atypical of the average political pundit, Krauthammer, 63, whose Pulitzer Prize-winning syndicated column appears in 400 publications, had never published a book, but last month he released “Things That Matter,” a collection of his previously published writings. As of the third week of November, the book is No. 1 on The New York Times non-fiction bestseller list and a top seller on Amazon.
It opens by charting Krauthammer’s conversion from liberalism to conservatism, beginning with his days as a speechwriter for then-Vice President Walter Mondale and as a writer and editor for the liberal magazine The New Republic in the 1980s. But even then, Krauthammer was challenging liberal dogma. He told POLITICO that a column he wrote in TNR denouncing the nuclear freeze movement caused a flood of cancelled subscriptions, something from which he said he took “great pride.”
The turn to conservatism was gradual. “I didn’t have an ‘aha’ moment, an epiphany saying, ‘Wow, Ronald Reagan is a cool guy,” Krauthammer recalled. “I just over time evolved to a more small government, more limited, what I would call a more realistic and maybe non-romantic view of the possibility of politics.” He moved on to the Washington Post and began appearing as a panelist on PBS, then Fox News. (He said he’s “lost touch” with his old TNR colleagues.)
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Krauthammer on Krauthammer
By HADAS GOLD and DYLAN BYERS
Columnist Charles Krauthammer wrote an opinion piece entitled "The Enemy Among Us" alleging that former President Barack Obama was creating a "shadow government" through his nonprofit Organizing for Action.Misattributed
An opinion piece arguing that former President Barack Obama’s nonprofit Organizing for Action (OFA) is a “shadow government” organization aimed at tearing down the Constitution has been circulating under various titles since it was originally published in February 2017. But it wasn’t until months later, when Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer’s name was erroneously attached to the text, that this opinion piece started gaining popularity.
A portion of this opinion piece as it circulated under the title “The Enemy Among Us” is reproduced below:
I do not understand how living in a country with its democracy established over 200 years ago, and now, for the first time in history, suddenly we have one of our former presidents set up a group called “Organizing for Action” (OFA).
OFA is 30,000+ strong and working to disrupt everything that our current president’s administration is trying to do. This organization goes against our Democracy, and it is an operation that will destroy our way of governing. It goes against our Constitution, our laws, and the processes established over 200 years ago. If it is allowed to proceed then we will be living in chaos very much like third world countries are run. What good is it to have an established government if it is not going to be respected and allowed to follow our laws?
If you had an army some 30,000 strong and a court system stacked over the decades with judges who would allow you to break the laws, how much damage could you do to a country? We are about to find out in America!
The claim that Krauthammer penned this op-ed seems to have originated on the the web site Nesara News, which introduced the text with a brief paragraph lauding the credibility of the conservative columnist on 11 October 2017. The web site also claimed that the article had appeared in the New York Post:
Krauthammer is about the best and brightest journalist and political analyst we have, in my opinion. His words of warning in the below message should be taken seriously and spread throughout the country so as many of our citizens as possible are made aware of what is happening right under our noses! An article from the New York Post:
This article was never published in the New York Post, nor was it written by Charles Krauthammer. In fact, the Post’s author page for Krauthammer only lists two articles, both of which were published in 2009, and neither of which dealt with Organizing for Action.
The majority of this text originated in a 13 February 2017 blog post on “The Daily Jot,” nearly 8 months before Krauthammer’s name was erroneously attached to it. The post was entitled “The Perilous Times We Live In” and attributed to Christian journalist Bill Wilson.
With the exception of the opening and closing paragraphs, Wilson’s article and the “Krauthammer” article are practically identical. Here’s a comparison of the two articles with the shared text highlighted:
Wilson confirmed to us via email that he is the original author of this op-ed. Mike Watson, a research assistant for Krauthammer, also told us via email that this op-ed did not originate with the conservative columnist:
Dr. Krauthammer did not write it and has nothing to do with it.
Krauthammer’s name was simply tacked onto the end of this article in an attempt to lend it an air of credibility. We previously addressed the claim that President Obama was forming a shadow government to undermine the Trump presidency and found that it was based on little to no evidence.
Fact Checker:Dan Evon
Featured Image:Gil C / Shutterstock.com
Published:24 October 2017
Updated:26 October 2017
Wilson, Bill. “The Perilous Times We Live In.”
Daily Jot. 13 February 2017.
Sperry, Paul. “How Obama is Scheming to Sabotage Trump’s Presidency.”
New York Post. 11 February 2017.