The latest enemy of the people on the Left is Charles Krauthammer, the erudite conservative columnist for the Washington Post and commenter on Fox News. Joe Klein started the ball rolling with a quote in a recent piece in Politico by Ben Smith.
“‘There’s something tragic about him, too,’ Klein said, referring to Krauthammer’s confinement to a wheelchair, the result of a diving accident during his first year of medical school. ‘His work would have a lot more nuance if he were able to see the situations he’s writing about.'”
Never mind that most opinion columnists write about things that they have not personally witnessed. How many journalists who have inveighed on one side or another on the War on Terror, for example, have dodged sniper fire near Kandahar or Fallujah? Not many one would expect.
While the article in Politico was pretty favorable in general to Krauthammer, the Joe Klein quote started a firestorm, as one might imagine, with a lot of Charles Krauthammer defenders pointing out the inappropriateness of Klein referring to Krauthammer’s disability. This allowed Wonkette to suggest the following:
“Your Wonkette does not have much praise to bestow upon the collected letters & columns of Washington Post warbomber Charles Krauthammer, who loves torture more than Dick Cheney does and hates “fairness,” hmm, slightly less than Dick Cheney does? But even Krauthammer’s most virulent ad hominem insult hurlers, on the Internet, usually understand that there is a LINE, there is a LINE when writing about this guy. You should never bring up his, uhhhhhh… well… OH YOU KNOW… the thing. The unfortunate Krauthammer thing?? And *no,* we are not referring to his race (black), about which many jokes can and should be made.”
A back handed defense of Charles Krauthammer against Joe Klein’s sneering at his disability as one could ever imagine. The left wing Media Matters was a little less snarky but just as hostile in its response to the Politico article.
Everyone who writes opinion for public consumption soon becomes resigned to the fact that he or she will tick some people off and make enemies. Indeed it was once said that if an opinion journalist is not annoying some people, then he or she is not doing their job.
The rage against Charles Krauthammer can be explained by two things. First, Charles Krauthammer is very good at what he does, writing and commenting. There is nothing quote as galling as someone who is eloquent for positions that are the opposite ones own.
The other reason is that Charles Krauthammer is an apostate against liberalism. Charles Krauthammer started his political life campaigning for Senator Henry “Scoop” Jackson, followed by a stint of writing speeches for Walter Mondale and working for President Jimmy Carter. But like a lot of people, Charles Krauthammer felt an increasing disquiet about the Democrats’ somewhat appeasement oriented stance toward the Cold War. Charles Krauthammer went hard to starboard in his political leanings, became a supporter of Ronald Reagan, and never looked back.
The term for the people who abandon liberalism because of national security concerns is “neoconservative” or “neocon” for short. The term has gotten a whiff of disdain from the left, even becoming a kind of code word for “Jew” as many neoconservatives are Jewish and are informed by their support for Israel. Using “neocon” as an insult actually allows some people to engage in a little code word anti-Semitism while escaping the stigma of it.
Charles Krauthammer enraged the left for quite another reason related to his abandonment of liberalism. He was and is a warm supporter of George W. Bush, who he compared with John F. Kennedy as a defender of freedom.
To simultaneously praise the Great Satan and to compare him to the martyred JFK was truly an unforgivable offense.
Sources: Barack Obama’s biggest critic: Charles Krauthammer, Ben Smith, Politico, May 20th, 2009
Nutty Joe Klein Touches ‘Third Rail Of Charles Krauthammer Criticism’, Wonkette, May 22nd, 2009
Politico blows kisses to Charles Krauthammer, Eric Boehlert, Media Matters, May 20th, 2009