WASHINGTON -- Twenty-five years ago this week, I wrote my first column. I'm not much given to self-reflection -- why do you think I quit psychiatry? -- but I figure once every quarter-century is not excessive.
When Editorial Page Editor Meg Greenfield approached me to do a column for The Washington Post, I was somewhat daunted. The norm in those days was to write two or three a week, hence the old joke that being a columnist is like being married to a nymphomaniac -- as soon as you're done, you've got to do it again.
So I proposed once a week. First, I explained, because I was enjoying the leisurely life of a magazine writer and, with a child on the way, I was looking forward to fatherhood. Second, because I don't have two ideas a week; I barely have one (as many of my critics no doubt agree).
The first objection she dismissed as mere sloth (Meg was always a good judge of character). The second reason she bought. On Dec. 14, 1984, my first column appeared.
Longevity for a columnist is a simple proposition: Once you start, you don't stop. You do it until you die or can no longer put a sentence together. It has always been my intention to die at my desk, although my most cherished ambition is to outlive the estate tax.
Looking back on the quarter-century, the most remarkable period, strangely enough, was the '90s. They began on Dec. 26, 1991 (just as the '60s, as many have observed, ended with Nixon's resignation on Aug. 9, 1974) with a deliverance of biblical proportions -- the disappearance of the Soviet Union. It marked the end of 60 years of existential conflict, the collapse of a deeply evil empire, and the death of one of the most perverse political ideas in history. This miracle, in major part wrought by Ronald Reagan, bequeathed the ultimate peace dividend: a golden age of the most profound peace and prosperity.
"I recently told an assembly at my son's high school," I wrote in 1997, "that they were living through a time so blessed they would tell their grandchildren about it. They looked at me uncomprehendingly ... because it is hard for anyone to apprehend the sheer felicity of one's own time until it is gone."
I concluded with "golden ages never last." Throughout the decade, and most especially as it began to wane, I returned to this theme of the wondrous oddity, the sheer impossibility of an age of such post-historical tranquility.
Charles Krauthammer is a 1987 Pulitzer Prize winner, 1984 National Magazine Award winner, and a columnist for The Washington Post since 1985.
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