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Charles Krauthammer: The Passing of an Intellectual Conservative

The conservative political world has lost one of its giants. Author and pundit Charles Krauthammer has passed away. The news came this afternoon, marking the end of his year-long battle with cancer. He was 68.

Known as an intellectual conservative, he wrote a weekly syndicated column for years. He was also considered a neoconservative, a term loosely applied to baby boomer era Jews who grew up as liberals but moved to the right later in life. In 2010, The New York Times columnist David Brooks called Krauthammer “the most important conservative columnist.” In 2011, former congressman and MSNBC host Joe Scarborough called him “without a doubt the most powerful force in American conservatism. He has [been] for two, three, four years.”

Krauthammer overcame tremendous odds to become a conservative powerhouse. He broke his neck in a diving accident while in medical school at Harvard. The accident severed his spinal cord, paralyzing his lower body and forcing him to learn to use his arms and hands. But he remained in school. He graduated as a psychiatrist and went into psychiatry research.

From Medicine to Politics

Despite success as a psychiatrist, writing award-winning papers, Krauthammer started writing political columns around 1980. He became an editor at The New Republic, one of America’s oldest political magazines, before becoming a speechwriter for Democratic presidential candidate Walter Mondale. He then became a contributing editor to The Weekly Standard, a neoconservative magazine. He became what Politico called ” the closest thing the factionalized GOP could have to a spokesperson, a de facto opposition leader for the thinking right.”

It was Krauthammer who, in the mid-80s, coined the term “Reagan Doctrine.” It referred to the U.S. policy of supporting anticommunist regimes around the world. However, he disagreed with neoconservatives in the 1990s when it came to American intervention. While he supported the 1991 Gulf War, he opposed other actions like the Yugoslav Wars. While a strong supporter of Israel, he supported a two-state solution to the conflict with the Palestinians.

Krauthammer won the Pulitzer Prize for commentary in 1987. A Washington Post editorial about his life observed, “Our copy editors knew to check any change with Charles, because he cared about every word. There was never much to change.” Krauthammer had an authoritative, definitive style of writing that made you feel he had the last and final word on a given topic.

Read more at The Stream. 

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