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The Master

by Lisa Schiffren

Things That Matter: Three Decades of Passions, Pastimes, and Politics, by Charles Krauthammer (Crown Forum, 400 pp., $28)

Since its publication last October, Charles Krauthammer’s Things That Matter has been a runaway bestseller. As of this writing, it has spent 17 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, where it currently sits at No. 2. Krauthammer has become a ubiquitous presence — more widely quoted than ever, on the Obama administration’s abuse of power, the failures of Obamacare, and the decline of the U.S.’s standing in the world at a time of upheaval. Fox News, the network on which he practices punditry, saw fit to run an hour-long TV special devoted to the man, his personal story, and his thoughts (a distant third, to be sure) in conjunction with the book’s publication.

The astonishing popularity of what is, after all, a book of warmed-over newspaper columns has ratified the position of the cerebral Mr. Krauthammer as the most influential conservative columnist of our time. In this he succeeds the equally brilliant but far more acerbic George Will, who explained, defended, and even embodied the Reaganite conservative ethos of the 1980s. Krauthammer has earned this status by writing op-eds that are consistently incisive, thoughtful, and intellectually forceful, for 30 years, at the Washington Post, Time, The New Republic, and The Weekly Standard.

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