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    Author One-on-One: Charles Krauthammer and Dana Perino

    Dana Perino Charles Krauthammer In this Amazon One-to-One,
    Charles Krauthammer and Dana Perino discuss Dr. Krauthammer’s new
    book Things That Matter: Three Decades of Passions, Pastimes, and
    Politics. Charles Krauthammer is a Pulitzer Prize-winning
    syndicated columnist, political commentator and physician. Dana
    Perino is a Former White House Press Secretary who worked with
    President George W. Bush, contributor and co-host of The Five on
    FOX News. She is a long-time friend and fan of Charles

    Dana Perino: Your new book covers three decades of your
    writings, divided into 16 chapters, and grouped into categories
    of the things that have mattered to you in your life. As you
    reviewed your body of work, were you surprised by anything that
    you had written? Did you ever think, “I can’t believe I ever
    thought that”?

    Charles Krauthammer: No real surprises—I find that I agree with
    myself a lot—except for my enthusiastic review of Independence
    Day. Though I might've been unduly swayed by seeing the premiere
    with my son, then ten, who announced after the showing that he
    would see the movie every week for the rest of his life.

    DP: The thing that has mattered most to you is your family.
    Your book opens with a column that could be called “a two-hankie
    job.” How hard is it to write about the people that you love, to
    give people a glimpse into your personal life?

    CK: I didn’t become a writer to write about myself. In fact, I
    don't even like using the word "I" in writing an opinion column,
    let alone a personal one. The only times I really have written
    about my own life is when it had a purpose outside myself, such
    as honoring a person, perhaps a friend or mentor, of
    extraordinary character.

    DP: As a long-time fan of yours, there are some of your columns
    that I remember reading, and where I was when I read it, and how
    I said to my husband, “That’s exactly what I was thinking!” Do
    you know when a column is going to be a hit?

    CK: Quite the opposite. I'm always amazed how wrong I am. A
    column that I think will sink like a stone might catch on like
    wildfire. Others that I'm proud and smug about as I submit for
    publication, leave no trace. Which is why I'm a writer, not a
    publisher. I wasn't made for marketing.

    DP: The original essay you penned for Things That Matter is
    like an award-winning exhibit of your heart and mind. What will
    readers learn about you that they may not have known?

    CK: How improbable my life story is. I still wake up simply
    amazed how I've ended up where I am, mostly by serendipity and
    sheer blind luck. I started out as a doctor. I ended as a writer.
    And that's the least of the stunning twists and turns that have
    defined my life—which I write about, for the first time, in the
    introductory essay to Things That Matter.

    DP: You have become a must-read and a must-see on television
    news programs. Parents shush their children when you’re about to
    speak. On the rare Friday when you don’t have a column or when
    you’re not on Special Report with Bret Baier, your mom gets calls
    of “Where is Charles?” Disappointment hangs heavy over your fans.
    But who are your weekly must-reads?

    CK: George Will. David Brooks. Mickey Kaus. And for that happy
    half of every year—April through October—the (daily) box score of
    the Washington Nationals.

    DP: Do you think that your training as a psychiatrist has given
    you an advantage when observing people in politics?

    CK: Actually, no. Psychiatry has everything to say about mental
    illness, very little to say about ordinary life. It offers no
    magical formulas for understanding human behavior beyond what any
    lay person can see. Although I do like to joke that there's not
    much difference in what I do today as a political analyst in
    Washington from what I used to do as a psychiatrist in Boston—in
    both lines of work, I deal every day with people who suffer from
    paranoia and delusions of grandeur. The only difference is that
    the paranoids in Washington have access to nuclear weapons.

    DP: You wrote a column on September 12, 2001 that is included
    in Things That Matter. How difficult was that to write under the
    time pressure of the day, and to keep your commentary to standard
    column length?

    CK: Like the whole country, I was on fire with fury. I felt I
    simply had to write. The difficulty was less time pressure than
    emotional pressure—trying to suppress my feelings so I could be
    as analytical as possible. Sometimes that kind of writing can be
    disastrous. I think this one came out right.

    DP: Given the mention in your essay, and because I have a gut
    feeling that we’re on the same page, what is your preferred style
    on serial commas?

    CK: With commas the rule should always be: the fewer the
    better. They are a scourge, a pestilence upon the land. They must
    be given no quarter. When you list three things, it should be
    written: a, b and c. If you see a comma after the "b"—call 911

    DP: Many readers may not realize that you once were a Democrat?
    Was it a gradual or a spectacular breakup?

    CK: Like most breakups, gradual. Like few breakups, however,
    without regret.

    DP: You have covered politics and government since the Carter
    administration. Do you believe that America’s politics are too
    strained, too partisan, and too deranged to make meaningful

    CK: Not at all. What we need is not a new politics but a new

    DP: What do you think will be the things that matter 20–30
    years from now?

    CK: The things that really matter, as I try to explain in the
    introductory essay—the cosmic questions of origins and meaning,
    the great achievements of science and art, the great mysteries of
    creation and consciousness—shall always be with us. Thirty years
    from now, 300 years from now. I hope that one contribution of
    this book will be to provide some illumination on these wondrous
    mysteries and achievements.

    DP: If you had a magic wand and could get the U.S. federal
    government to do three things, what would be your top priorities?

    CK: Abolish the income tax code with its staggeringly intrusive
    and impenetrable provisions and replace it with a clean
    consumption tax.

    Get out of the race business and return the country to the
    colorblind vision of Martin Luther King.

    Kill the penny.