Sunday, January 12, 2014
Things That Matter: Three Decades of Passions, Pastimes and Politicsmeand by Charles Krauthammer
I detest the habits of most political commentators (all viewpoints) to latch onto pet phrases, oversimplified stances, and then outshout those opposite them on the panel. It seems that he (or she) who can talk the loudest, fastest, and longest WINS!! Perhaps that is why I have started to listen more carefully when I see Charles Krauthammer on Fox News. (Note, I watch more than one news channel and find that I do not totally agree with anyone viewpoint. Does that make me unable to make a decision or fully capable of independent thought? You be the judge) Anyway, back to Charles Krauthammer. I find him extremely articulate and most importantly he commands such respect that others listen to him, usually without interrupting. I also find his background as a psychiatrist adds a unique perspective to most discussions.
As the subtitle indicates the writings in this book cover three decades; most of these essays are from his various newspaper and magazine columns while some were adapted from scholarly lectures he gave. Reading the entries was like an intense course in recent US-world history except his views are those he held at the time of the event. Reading them with the clarifying distance of months, years or even decades made them all the more interesting to me. I must be honest here -- some of the topics he discussed were way more political or intellectual than I normally seek, but even in those essays I enjoyed his style. Often he writes as if he is taking an intellectual meandering with no clear purpose -- then wham, with one or two sharply crafted sentences he hits the reader with a precise, powerful, and worthwhile conclusion. I was especially interested in the commentaries on gun control, stem cell research, monuments, and the aftermath of the fall of Communism. I read this as an ebook, having checked it out from WPLC. I would recommend getting the book in that format, otherwise I recommend having a good dictionary nearby. Several times within each essay, I found myself using the definition feature of my Nook. Let's just Krauthammer's vocabulary is as sharp and precise as his argument style. And it was good exercise to stretch my brain!