Over the course of his 34 years at The Washington Post, Charles Krauthammer wrote some 1,600 columns on subjects that ranged from his passion for chess, his frustrated love of the Nationals, his affection for dogs to, above all, politics. That is, politics in the most elevated sense of that word — not simply mundane partisan maneuvering, but the grand design of the Constitution and the role of America in the world. As Krauthammer explained in the introduction to his 2013 collection of columns, “Things That Matter,” “Politics, the crooked timber of our communal lives, dominates everything because, in the end, everything . . . 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. . . . Politics is the moat, the walls, beyond which lie the barbarians.”
Krauthammer was, by his own account, an improbable, accidental columnist. But for four decades he served as an unswerving bulwark against the barbarians — endlessly erudite, charming, independent-minded and, as the following inadequate excerpts will demonstrate, remarkably relevant.
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On column writing
“An anniversary of sorts,” Dec. 18, 2009
Twenty-five years ago this week, I wrote my first column. I’m not much given to self-reflection — why do you think I quit psychiatry? — but I figure once every quarter-century is not excessive.
When Editorial Page Editor Meg Greenfield approached me to do a column for The Post, I was somewhat daunted. The norm in those days was to write two or three a week, hence the old joke that being a columnist is like being married to a nymphomaniac — as soon as you’re done, you’ve got to do it again.
So I proposed once a week. First, I explained, because I was enjoying the leisurely life of a magazine writer and, with a child on the way, I was looking forward to fatherhood. Second, because I don’t have two ideas a week; I barely have one (as many of my critics no doubt agree).
The first objection she dismissed as mere sloth (Meg was always a good judge of character). The second reason she bought. On Dec. 14, 1984, my first column appeared.
Longevity for a columnist is a simple proposition: Once you start, you don’t stop. You do it until you die or can no longer put a sentence together. It has always been my intention to die at my desk, although my most cherished ambition is to outlive the estate tax . . .
To be doing every day what you enjoy doing is rare. Rarer still is to be doing what you were meant to do, particularly if you got there by sheer serendipity.
On family and mortality
“Ten pounds of poetry,” June 28, 1985
Three weeks ago Daniel Pierre Krauthammer, our first, entered the world. It was a noisy and boisterous entry, as befits a 10-pound Krauthammer. It has been just as noisy and boisterous since. I had been warned by friend and foe that life would never be the same. They were right.
Of course, like all exhausted newborn fathers, I am just looking for sympathy. It is my wife, Robyn, whose life has been fully merged with his, in a symbiosis profound and delicate. . . .
What she does for him, of course, would not fit in a month’s worth of columns. What do I do? It seems my job is to father, a verb which must count as one of the age’s more inventive creations. How exactly to father? I don’t really know. The women’s movement, to which the idea owes its currency, is right to insist that the father do more.
But more of what? I have been asking myself that lately as I rock him and hold him and speak to him in the gravest of tones. . . .
I gaze at his body, so perfectly formed, so perfectly innocent. It has yet to be written on. I look at his knee and wonder where will be the little mark that records his first too-hard slide into second base.
“Moments of truth,” Feb. 23, 1990
I am not exactly sure how Daniel Krauthammer, age 4, acquired the boxing gloves. But then again, I am not sure how he acquired the plastic gun, the F-15 fighter-bomber with sound effects or, for that matter, the dog.
Interdiction having failed, my next resort is to education. I am not about to take away the beloved gloves . . . so I decide it is time for father to teach son the manly art of self-defense. He dons the gloves. I expound on the left jab, not remembering till the next morning that he is left-handed. We spar a bit. Then I decide that it is time for a little moral education.
I begin: “Daniel, it is important to know how to fight, but it is even more important to know when to fight.”
I grow solemn. “There are only two times when you may fight. You may only fight when someone has started a fight with you — you are allowed to fight back — or when you are coming to help somebody who is weak and is being hit and needs your help. Do you understand that these are the only times when you are allowed to fight?”
At which point he whirls, flattens the dummy with a crushing right, and says, “Take that, shorty.”
So much for moral education. . . . Nothing has so impressed me in my brief experience with fatherhood as the apparent autonomy of a child’s soul, the inner logic by which it seems to develop. It has a fixedness that is, perhaps happily, beyond a parent’s control. At least thinking so is a relief.
“Marcel, my brother,” Jan. 27, 2006
There is a black-and-white photograph of us, two boys alone. He’s maybe 11, I’m 7. We’re sitting on a jetty, those jutting piles of rock that little beach towns throw down at half-mile intervals to hold back the sea. In the photo, nothing but sand, sea and sky, the pure elements of our summers together. We are both thin as rails, tanned to blackness and dressed in our summer finest: bathing suits and buzz cuts. Marcel’s left arm is draped around my neck with that effortless natural ease — and touch of protectiveness — that only older brothers know.
Whenever I look at that picture, I know what we were thinking at the moment it was taken: It will forever be thus. Ever brothers. Ever young. Ever summer.
My brother Marcel died on Tuesday, Jan. 17. It was winter. He was 59.
“Your only Halley’s,” Dec. 13, 1985
Halley’s is a monument to science, a spokesman for its new celestial harmonies — and an intimation of mortality. It is at once recurring and, for us individually, singular. This will be my only Halley’s and, if you’re old enough to read this without moving your lips, your last one too, I’m afraid.
Halley’s speaks to me especially acutely. As it turns around the sun, the midpoint on its journey, I will be marking the midpoint in mine, or so say the Metropolitan Life tables. Our perihelions match.
“The Pariah Chess Club,” Dec. 27, 2002
Our friends think us odd. They can understand poker night or bridge night. They’re not sure about chess. When I tell friends that three of us once drove from Washington to New York to see Garry Kasparov play a game, it elicits a look as uncomprehending as if we had driven 200 miles for an egg-eating contest. . . .
I try to explain to friends that we do not sit in overstuffed chairs smoking pipes in five-hour games. We play like the vagrants in the park — at high speed with clocks ticking so that thinking more than 10 or 20 seconds can be a fatal extravagance. In speed (“blitz’’) chess, you’ve got five or 10 minutes to play your entire game. Some Mondays we get in a dozen games each. No time to recriminate, let alone ruminate.
“Save the border collie,” July 15, 1994
The dumbing of America has gone far enough. Yes, we have gotten used to falling SAT scores, coming in dead last in international math comparisons, high schoolers who cannot locate the Civil War to the nearest half-century. But we have got to draw the line somewhere. I say we draw it at dogs.
Last month, the American Kennel Club, the politburo of American dog breeding, decided to turn the world’s smartest dog, the border collie, into a moron. Actually, it voted 11-1 to begin proceedings to turn it into a show dog, which will amount to the same thing. . . .
For those who find such fascination with dogs self-indulgent sentimentalism, who care as little for the border collie as they do for the snail darter, consider this: In a world of rising crime and falling standards, of broken cities and failing schools, the border collie is one of the few things that works. Must we ruin this too? Reduce it to imbecility in the name of prettiness? . . .
Face it: Our kids are not going to beat the South Koreans at math for decades. But we can still produce a thinking dog. For now.
“For a Nats fan, joy is in the losing,” April 23, 2010
Among my various idiosyncrasies, such as (twice) driving from Washington to New York to watch a world championship chess match, the most baffling to my friends is my steadfast devotion to the Washington Nationals. When I wax lyrical about having discovered my own private paradise at Nationals Park, eyes begin to roll and it is patiently explained to me that my Nats have been not just bad, but prodigiously — epically — bad. . . .
I go for relief. For the fun, for the craft . . . and for the sweet, easy cheer at Nationals Park.
You get there and the twilight’s gleaming, the popcorn’s popping, the kids’re romping and everyone’s happy. The joy of losing consists in this: Where there are no expectations, there is no disappointment.
“Redskins and reason,” Oct. 17, 2013
In re the (Washington) Redskins. Should the name be changed?
I don’t like being lectured by sportscasters about ethnic sensitivity. Or advised by the president of the United States about changing team names. Or blackmailed by tribal leaders playing the race card.
I don’t like the language police ensuring that no one anywhere gives offense to anyone about anything. And I fully credit the claim of Redskins owner Dan Snyder and many passionate fans that they intend no malice or prejudice and that “Redskins” has a proud 80-year history they wish to maintain.
The fact is, however, that words don’t stand still. They evolve. . . .
Let’s recognize that there are many people of good will for whom “Washington Redskins” contains sentimental and historical attachment — and not an ounce of intended animus. So let’s turn down the temperature. What’s at issue is not high principle but adaptation to a change in linguistic nuance. A close call, though I personally would err on the side of not using the word if others are available.
Read more: “Why do they even play the game?” June 29, 2017 | “The best show in town,” Sept. 1, 2011 | “Return of the Natural,” Aug. 17, 2007 | “Baseball ain’t metaphysics,” May 12, 1989 | “The trouble with football,” Jan. 25, 1985”
On Jews and Israel
“Everyone’s Jewish,” Sept. 25, 2006
Apart from its political irrelevance, it seems improbable in the extreme that the cowboy-boots-wearing football scion of Southern manner and speech [former Virginia governor George Allen] should turn out to be, at least by origins, a son of Israel. For Allen, as he quipped to me, it’s the explanation for a lifelong affinity for Hebrew National hot dogs. For me, it is the ultimate confirmation of something I have been regaling friends with for 20 years and now, for the advancement of social science, feel compelled to publish.
Krauthammer’s Law: Everyone is Jewish until proven otherwise.
“Do we really mean ‘never again’?” Jan. 30, 2015
Amid the ritual expressions of regret and the pledges of “never again” on Tuesday’s 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, a bitter irony was noted: Anti-Semitism has returned to Europe. With a vengeance. . . .
From the Jewish point of view, European anti-Semitism is a sideshow. The story of European Jewry is over. It died at Auschwitz. Europe’s place as the center and fulcrum of the Jewish world has been inherited by Israel. Not only is it the first independent Jewish commonwealth in 2,000 years. It is, also for the first time in 2,000 years, the largest Jewish community on the planet.
The threat to the Jewish future lies not in Europe but in the Muslim Middle East, today the heart of global anti-Semitism, a veritable factory of anti-Jewish literature, films, blood libels and calls for violence, indeed for another genocide. . . .
On the 70th anniversary of Auschwitz, mourning dead Jews is easy. And, forgive me, cheap. Want to truly honor the dead? Show solidarity with the living — Israel and its 6 million Jews. Make “never again” more than an empty phrase. It took Nazi Germany seven years to kill 6 million Jews. It would take a nuclear Iran one day.
“A special moral standard, for Israel only,” May 25, 1990
Israel is pilloried according to a moral standard to which no other nation in the world is held — not India, not Jordan, not the United States itself. (In 1967, in the Detroit riots alone, 40 were killed.) This is not to say that because others have done worse, Israel stands exonerated. Faced with an occupation it never sought and which it can find no way to end safely, Israel has on occasion behaved badly.
The fact that others, faced with far smaller threats, have behaved far worse and yet Israel is singled out for blame is powerful evidence of a double standard meant not to serve justice or save Palestinians but simply to skewer Israel.
Read more: “The Holocaust and Jewish identity,” March 10, 2016 | “Pollard and the Jews,” March 20, 1987 | “No peace in our time,” March 20, 2015 | “Obama’s final, most shameful, legacy moment,” Dec. 30, 2016
On politics and governing
“Reagan revisionism,” June 11, 2004
The second-greatest president of the 20th century dies (with Theodore Roosevelt coming a close third), and the liberal establishment that alternately ridiculed and demonized Ronald Reagan throughout his presidency is in a quandary. How to remember a man they anathematized for eight years but who enjoys both the overwhelming affection of the American people and decisive vindication by history?
They found their way to do it. They dwell endlessly on the man’s smile, his sunny personality, his good manners. Above all, his optimism.
“Optimism” is the perfect way to trivialize everything that Reagan was or did. Pangloss was an optimist. Harold Stassen was an optimist. Ralph Kramden was an optimist. Optimism is nice, but it gets you nowhere unless you also possess ideological vision, policy and prescriptions to make it real, and, finally, the political courage to act on your convictions.
Optimism? Every other person on the No. 6 bus is an optimist. What distinguished Reagan was what he did and said. Reagan was optimistic about America amid the cynicism and general retreat of the post-Vietnam era because he believed unfashionably that America was both great and good — and had been needlessly diminished by restrictive economic policies and timid foreign policies. Change the policies and America would be restored, both at home and abroad.
He was right.
“The pardon is for tyrants,” Jan. 8, 1987
In democracies, the pardon should be used as sparingly as possible. It is, after all, an admission of failure. It should be used not for dispensing clemency but for righting obvious miscarriages of justice that are otherwise unremediable (e.g., the 1913 Leo Frank case in Georgia). It might even be used, as was the Nixon pardon, to call an arbitrary halt to a national trauma. But only on these rarest of occasions should it supplant the workings of ordinary justice. Free countries have another mechanism for dealing with that. It is called law.
The pardon is for tyrants. They like to declare pardons on holidays, such as the birthday of the dictator, or Christ, or the Revolution (interchangeable concepts in many of these countries). Dictators should be encouraged to keep it up. And we should be encouraged to remember that the promiscuous dispensation of clemency is not a sign of political liberality. It is instead one of those valuable, identifying marks of tyranny. Like winning an election with a perfect score.
“A brain-dead party,” Nov. 2, 1990
While blunders are blamed and fingers pointed, the Republican collapse of 1990 is too large to be explained simply by the tactical errors of George Bush in the great budget crunch. Republican malaise goes far deeper than that. The party has run out of ideas.
To be sure, it did not have many to begin with. Two to be exact. (Though that was two more than the Democrats had in the 1980s.) One was peace through strength. The other was growth through low taxes. Reagan and Bush rode these simple and appealing maxims to three smashing electoral victories.
The Republican problem today is that both ideas are dead. Peace through strength is now politically obsolete. And painless prosperity through low taxes has proven false.
“To war, not to court,” Sept. 12, 2001
You bring criminals to justice; you rain destruction on combatants. This is a fundamental distinction that can no longer be avoided. The bombings of Sept. 11, 2001, must mark a turning point. War was long ago declared on us. Until we declare war in return, we will have thousands of more innocent victims.
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.
Nor is the enemy faceless or mysterious. . . . Its name is radical Islam. Not Islam as practiced peacefully by millions of the faithful around the world. But a specific fringe political movement, dedicated to imposing its fanatical ideology on its own societies and destroying the society of its enemies, the greatest of which is the United States.
“The central axiom of partisan politics,” July 26, 2002
To understand the workings of American politics, you have to understand this fundamental law: Conservatives think liberals are stupid. Liberals think conservatives are evil. . . . Liberals believe that human nature is fundamentally good. The fact that this is contradicted by, oh, 4,000 years of human history simply tells them how urgent is the need for their next seven-point program for the social reform of everything. . . .
Accordingly, the conservative attitude toward liberals is one of compassionate condescension. Liberals are not quite as reciprocally charitable. It is natural. They think conservatives are mean. How can conservatives believe in the things they do — self-reliance, self-discipline, competition, military power — without being soulless? How to understand the conservative desire to actually abolish welfare, if it is not to punish the poor? . . .
The “angry white male” was thus a legend, but a necessary one. It was unimaginable that conservatives could be given power by any sentiment less base than anger, the selfish fury of the former top dog — the white male — forced to accommodate the aspirations of women, minorities and sundry upstarts.
“The delusional Dean,” Dec. 5, 2003
It has been 25 years since I discovered a psychiatric syndrome (for the record: “Secondary Mania,” Archives of General Psychiatry, November 1978), and in the interim I haven’t been looking for new ones. But it’s time to don the white coat again. A plague is abroad in the land.
Bush Derangement Syndrome: the acute onset of paranoia in otherwise normal people in reaction to the policies, the presidency — nay — the very existence of George W. Bush.
“Withdraw this nominee,” Oct. 7, 2005
When in 1962 Edward Moore Kennedy ran for his brother’s seat in the Senate, his opponent famously said that if Kennedy’s name had been Edward Moore, his candidacy would have been a joke. If Harriet Miers were not a crony of the president of the United States, her nomination to the Supreme Court would be a joke, as it would have occurred to no one else to nominate her.
We’ve had quite enough dynastic politics over the past decades. . . . But nominating a constitutional tabula rasa to sit on what is America’s constitutional court is an exercise of regal authority with the arbitrariness of a king giving his favorite general a particularly plush dukedom. . . .
It is particularly dismaying that this act should have been perpetrated by the conservative party. For half a century, liberals have corrupted the courts by turning them into an instrument of radical social change on questions — school prayer, abortion, busing, the death penalty — that properly belong to the elected branches of government. Conservatives have opposed this arrogation of the legislative role and called for restoration of the purely interpretive role of the court. To nominate someone whose adult life reveals no record of even participation in debates about constitutional interpretation is an insult to the institution and to that vision of the institution.
“The case for a two-part judgment,” Feb. 2, 1999
Splitting the vote on [Bill Clinton’s] impeachment . . . would allow the correct verdict — acquittal — to be rendered without permitting a misreading of its meaning. Acquittal alone would invite this president to bring out the bongo drums and cigar and hold another White House Lawn pep rally to pronounce himself vindicated. A finding of fact, however, would make clear that the United States Senate found that the president acted criminally, if not grandly enough to warrant the majestic corrective of removal.
Democrats don’t want such a vote because it would establish for the record — for history — the reality of Clinton’s offenses. . . .
The public does not want to see the president removed. But it believes that he did perjure himself and obstruct justice. Voting down a finding of such fact would put Democrats at odds not just with logic but with public opinion. . . . It was said of Sen. Hiram W. Johnson that “he found it difficult to serve God and William Randolph Hearst at one and the same time.” The Democrats’ dilemma is that they find it difficult to serve truth and William Jefferson Clinton at one and the same time.
“Clawing for a legacy,” Feb 1, 2008
Reagan was consequential. [Bill] Clinton was not.
Reagan changed history. At home, he radically altered both the shape and perception of government. Abroad, he changed the entire structure of the international system by bringing down the Soviet empire, giving birth to a unipolar world of unprecedented American dominance.
By comparison, Clinton was a historical parenthesis. He can console himself — with considerable justification — that he simply drew the short straw in the chronological lottery: His time just happened to be the 1990s, which, through no fault of his own, was the most inconsequential decade of the 20th century. His was the interval between the collapse of the Soviet Union on Dec. 26, 1991, and the return of history with a vengeance on Sept. 11, 2001.
Clinton’s decade, that holiday from history, was certainly a time of peace and prosperity — but a soporific Golden Age that made no great demands on leadership. What, after all, was his greatest crisis? A farcical sexual dalliance.
“The Bush legacy,” April 26, 2013
Clare Boothe Luce liked to say that “a great man is one sentence.” Presidents, in particular. The most common “one sentence” for George W. Bush is: “He kept us safe.”
Not quite right. With Bush’s legacy being reassessed as his presidential library opens in Dallas, it’s important to note that he did not just keep us safe. He created the entire anti-terror infrastructure that continues to keep us safe. . . .
Like Bush, Harry Truman left office widely scorned, largely because of the inconclusive war he left behind. In time, however, Korea came to be seen as but one battle in a much larger Cold War that Truman was instrumental in winning. He established the institutional and policy infrastructure (CIA, NATO, the Truman Doctrine, etc.) that made possible ultimate victory almost a half-century later. I suspect history will similarly see Bush as the man who, by trial and error but also with prescience and principle, established the structures that will take us through another long twilight struggle and enable us to prevail.
“Can Obama write his own laws?” Aug. 15, 2013
The point is not what you think about the merits of the DREAM Act. Or of mandatory drug sentences. Or of subsidizing health care premiums for $175,000-a-year members of Congress. . . . The point is whether a president, charged with faithfully executing the laws that Congress enacts, may create, ignore, suspend and/or amend the law at will. Presidents are arguably permitted to refuse to enforce laws they consider unconstitutional (the basis for so many of George W. Bush’s so-called signing statements). But presidents are forbidden from doing so for reasons of mere policy — the reason for every [Barack] Obama violation listed above.
Such gross executive usurpation disdains the Constitution. It mocks the separation of powers. And most consequentially, it introduces a fatal instability into law itself. If the law is not what is plainly written, but is whatever the president and his agents decide, what’s left of the law?
“Hillaryism,” June 24, 2016
How little does [Hillary] Clinton have to offer? In her recent speeches, amid paragraph upon paragraph of attacks on Donald Trump, she lists the usual “investments” in clean energy and small business, in school construction and the power grid, and of course more infrastructure. . . . She promises no fundamental change, no relief from the new normal of slow growth, low productivity and economic stagnation. Instead, she offers government as remediator, as gap filler. Hillaryism steps in to alleviate the consequences of what it cannot change with a patchwork of subsidies, handouts and small-ball initiatives. . .
Hillaryism embodies the essence of modern liberalism. Having reached the limits of a welfare state grown increasingly sclerotic, bureaucratic and dysfunctional, the mission of modern liberalism is to patch the fraying safety net with yet more programs and entitlements.
“Donald Trump and the fitness threshold,” Aug. 5, 2016
This is beyond narcissism. I used to think Trump was an 11-year-old, an undeveloped schoolyard bully. 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.
Most politicians seek approval. But Trump lives for the adoration. He doesn’t even try to hide it, boasting incessantly about his crowds, his standing ovations, his TV ratings, his poll numbers, his primary victories. The latter are most prized because they offer empirical evidence of how loved and admired he is.
Prized also because, in our politics, success is self-validating. A candidacy that started out as a joke, as a self-aggrandizing exercise in xenophobia, struck a chord in a certain constituency and took off. The joke was on those who believed that he was not a serious man and therefore would not be taken seriously. They — myself emphatically included — were wrong.
“Final days, awful choice,” Nov. 3, 2016
In a normal election, the FBI and WikiLeaks factors might be disqualifying for a presidential candidate. As final evidence of how bad are our choices in 2016, [Donald] Trump’s liabilities, especially on foreign policy, outweigh hers.
We are entering a period of unprecedented threat to the international order that has prevailed under American leadership since 1945. After eight years of President Obama’s retreat, the three major revisionist powers — Russia, China and Iran — see their chance to achieve regional dominance and diminish, if not expel, U.S. influence.
At a time of such tectonic instability, even the most experienced head of state requires wisdom and delicacy to maintain equilibrium. Trump has neither. His joining of supreme ignorance to supreme arrogance, combined with a pathological sensitivity to any perceived slight, is a standing invitation to calamitous miscalculation.
“You can’t govern by id,” June 8, 2017
Having coined Bush Derangement Syndrome more than a decade ago, I feel authorized to weigh in on its most recent offshoot. What distinguishes Trump Derangement Syndrome is not just general hysteria about the subject, but additionally the inability to distinguish between legitimate policy differences on the one hand and signs of psychic pathology on the other.
Take President Trump’s climate-change decision. . . .
Paris was nothing but hot air. Withdrawing was a perfectly plausible policy choice (the other being remaining but trying to reduce our carbon dioxide-cutting commitments). The subsequent attacks on Trump were all the more unhinged because the president’s other behavior over the past several weeks provided ample opportunity for shock and dismay.
It’s the tweets, of course. Trump sees them as a direct, “unfiltered” conduit to the public. What he doesn’t quite understand is that for him — indeed, for anyone — they are a direct conduit from the unfiltered id. They erase whatever membrane normally exists between one’s internal disturbances and their external manifestations.
For most people, who cares? For the president of the United States, there are consequences. When the president’s id speaks, the world listens.
“Bungled collusion is still collusion,” July 14, 2017
It’s rather pathetic to hear Trump apologists protesting that it’s no big deal because we Americans are always intervening in other people’s elections, and they in ours. You don’t have to go back to the ’40s and ’50s when the CIA intervened in France and Italy to keep the communists from coming to power. . . .
This defense is pathetic for two reasons. First, have the Trumpites not been telling us for six months that no collusion ever happened? And now they say: Sure it happened. So what? Everyone does it.
What’s left of your credibility when you make such a casual about-face? . . .
There is no statute against helping a foreign hostile power meddle in an American election. What Donald Jr. — and [Jared] Kushner and [Paul] Manafort — did may not be criminal. But it is not merely stupid. It is also deeply wrong, a fundamental violation of any code of civic honor.
I leave it to the lawyers to adjudicate the legalities of unconsummated collusion. But you don’t need a lawyer to see that the Trump defense — collusion as a desperate Democratic fiction designed to explain away a lost election — is now officially dead.
“The guardrails hold,” Aug. 4, 2017
Note: This was Charles Krauthammer’s final column before going on medical leave.
A future trivia question and historical footnote, the spectacular 10-day flameout of Anthony Scaramucci qualifies as the most entertaining episode yet of the ongoing reality show that is the Trump presidency. (Working title: “The Pompadours of 1600 Pennsylvania.”) But even as the cocksure sycophant’s gobsmacking spectacle stole the show, something of real importance took place a bit lower on the radar.
At five separate junctures, the sinews of our democracy held against the careening recklessness of this presidency. Consequently, Donald Trump’s worst week proved a particularly fine hour for American democracy. . . .
Trump is a systemic stress test. The results are good, thus far.