In the Arena


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The usual neoconservative malingerers have been hammering me about a quote I gave to Politico, regarding Charles Krauthammer’s limitations as a columnist.

 Obviously, I didn’t mean to imply second-class status for disabled people. On the contrary, the distance and perspective that comes with physical deficits often leads to enhanced insight and abilities. The greatest President of the past 150 140 years–(Thanks, commenter flownover!)– sat in a wheelchair. 

 So it is possible to write brilliant, nuanced commentary—on the war in Iraq, for example—without visiting there. But it sure does help to understand a complicated situation in an unfamiliar culture if you can see it for yourself. Indeed, I believe the leavening effects of direct experience are especially valuable for those who are blinkered by ideology and debilitated by extreme views.

And while Krauthammer’s skills are impressive, his commentary has been dangerously bellicose, arrogant and wrong.  Given his influence with the Bush Administration, his unflinching support for American unilateralism–his invention of the notion of  a unipolar world–did extensive damage to our nation’s security and reputation overseas, and caused the unnecessary loss of  life. 

 Still, it seems clear that my remark could be construed by some as insensitive—and if I have caused any discomfort to any disabled person, I apologize sincerely. In the end, Krauthammer’s deficit is not a matter of body, but of judgment.