Remembering Charles Krauthammer right

Last week, I had occasion to be in the same room as a television showing various Fox News late-night hosts' reactions to the death of Charles Krauthammer.  I watched Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham, and their associated guests praise the recently deceased.

There was a lot in the man to praise.  Krauthammer confronted the loss of his mobility, at a young age, with many years ahead of him, with fortitude and aplomb.  He never demanded a handout or even sympathy.  Indeed, Krauthammer so shunned making his disability "the center of [his] life" that Sean Hannity once recalled with embarrassment how, during a past interview, he had not even noticed it.

It goes without saying that there was much to admire in Krauthammer and in his character.  But on that night last week, as the Fox News luminaries' conversations and programming approached hagiography, I began grinding my teeth.  Something was missing.

A decent number of conservatives, doubtless including the Fox News hosts, know that Krauthammer favored abortion.  He voted to keep abortion alive in Maryland should Roe v. Wade ever be overturned and later defended that vote as evidence of his pro-choice bona fides.  He commended the Catholic Church for providing an abortion-for-none antithesis to godless liberalism's thesis of abortion for all, favorably expecting a Hegelian synthesis where only earlier-stage children may be disposed of.  Commentators have characterized him as "not pro-life" and in favor of abortion ever since.

Usually, when a respected person who nevertheless held a horrible position dies, his admirers remember him with a degree of quietude.  This explains why conservatives blanch at liberals' uncompromising exaltation of the angels of their movement, like Ted Kennedy and Margaret Sanger.  These people held horrible positions that liberals whitewash or themselves embrace.

Anyone who abhors abortion – and many among the conservative upper opinion echelon profess to – must likewise look at Krauthammer a little bit sideways.  Otherwise, the question arises: do you really believe what you say you believe?  Are conservatives as dismayed, outraged, appalled by abortion as they are by child sex-trafficking, Muslim terrorism, government spying?  Is Fox News's prime-time line-up?  The forceps and the vacuum are at least as bad as these.

In the Catholic Church, a saint is (or at least was, before John Paul II changed things) declared following a rigorous process including documented miracles and a "devil's advocate" actively arguing against his case.  Thomas à Kempis, a pious monk and the author of The Imitation of Christ, has never been canonized because he might have despaired after being accidentally buried alive.  Canonization evades author and Catholic favorite G.K. Chesterton because of the perception of intemperance surrounding his life.

In the secular world, where canonizations come as fulsome eulogies, Charles Krauthammer warrants the same circumspection.  We can remember him without crowning him.

Krauthammer held plenty of good positions and also a number of evil ones.  This does not make him an evil man, nor does it warrant any animus against him.  It's beyond any of us to pass judgment on him; rather, conservatives must judge how their treatment of his memory reinforces or contradicts their professed values.  To remember Krauthammer as a flawed man, like all of us, reminds us of the flaws of the general conservative movement, which he reflects – where the so-called "social issues" like grinding up human children take a back seat to the national paycheck, and where libertarian pot- and sodomy-worship ever encroaches.

Unchecked and unqualified praise of Krauthammer encourages an "everything is fine" approach to conservatism.  That is not appropriate – or if it is, then let's be honest about it.  If conservative leading lights want to lionize Krauthammer, let them admit that they don't find the snuffing out of human children at their smallest and most vulnerable that big a deal.  If they acknowledge abortion as a society-destroying human rights abuse and a stain on the reputation of our country, then let them stop short of paeans to those who support it.  Krauthammer was an able man, a man of admirable wit and perseverance, but don't forget.

Let good conservatives do for Krauthammer what we all should do for every one of our beloved dead: pray for the repose of his eternal soul.  Likewise, pray for strong leaders to stem the tide of human blood soaking into the foundation of our country since 1973.

Drew Belsky is American Thinker's deputy editor.  Contact him at

Image: Abigail Batchelder via Flickr.

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