I am really enjoying Charles Krauthammer’s new book, Things that Matter. Although he would be described as a conservative today, Charles says when he came to Washington three decades ago as a recently minted Harvard psychiatrist, he was a classical Liberal like JFK. Charles was hired to help establish a new agency, created during the Carter administration, the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).
I have a particular interest in NIMH. My favorite professor and advisor when I was working on a PhD in the sociology department at UMD (Maryland) was the late Morris Rosenberg, who worked at NIMH from its inception and taught courses on Mental Health and other social psychology topics at UMD.
In those days (1980s), David and I were traveling to the Bethesda Naval Hospital once a week to share our strength, hope and experience concerning alcohol abuse in families, with military doctors, who were only beginning to recognize substance abuse among military personnel and their families.
David had retired from Bell by then, and earned a degree in counseling. He did this after consuming alcohol abusively for 40 years, and finding sobriety in his third attempt at rehabilitation. He continued to turn his life around with the help of ’12 Step’ friends. Employed by several different hospital-based treatment centers in Washington DC, at this juncture, he was volunteering time to a military hospital as well as doing radio interviews with local talk show hosts. I went along with him to Bethesda to offer testimony on living in an alcoholic military family, which I did many decades of my life.
We were involved in this effort at the same time Charles was working for NIMH and Dr Rosenberg was teaching at UMD.
Later, Charles became a speech writer for Walter Mondale. Charles says in those days he was a Democrat…so was I. Both of us had been fond of JFK, who understood why the US must remain involved in world affairs.
This book explains step by step how Charles became disenchanted with the Democrat party first in terms of its foreign policy, later in terms of the Welfare state and social policies that evolved after the 1960s.
Charles memories provoke many of my own. As he says, “I didn’t leave the Democrat party, it left me.”
As for politics, he says, and I agree, like it or not, politics is the basis of everything, even art. He presents a cogent and persuasive argument as to why each of us must remain engaged in politics.
Tower of the Bethesda Naval Hospital (National Naval Medical Center), Bethesda, Maryland (Photo credit: Wikipedia)