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Charen, Mona 1957-

CHAREN, Mona 1957-

PERSONAL:

Born February 25, 1957, in New York, NY; daughter of George and Claire (Rosenfeld) Charen; married Robert P. Parker; children: three. Education: Barnard College, Columbia University, B.A. (with honors), 1979; George Washington University, J.D., 1984. Politics: Republican.

ADDRESSES:

Office—c/o Creative Syndicate, 5777 West Century Boulevard, Suite 700, Los Angeles, CA 90045.

CAREER:

Political analyst and journalist. National Review, New York, NY, editorial assistant, 1979-81; White House, Washington, DC, speechwriter for First Lady Nancy Reagan, 1984, associate director of the office of public liaison, 1985-86; Jack Kemp for President, Washington, DC, speechwriter, 1986; syndicated columnist, 1987—. Cable News Network, Capital Gang and Capital Gang Sunday, panelist and commentator; has served as a judge for the Pulitzer Prizes.

WRITINGS:

Useful Idiots: How Liberals Got It Wrong in the Cold >War and Still Blame America First, Regnery (Washington, DC), 2003.

Do-gooders: How Liberals Hurt Those They Claim to Help—and the Rest of Us, Sentinel (New York, NY), 2004.

Contributor of articles to numerous newspapers, including Boston Globe, Baltimore Sun, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Atlanta Journal and Constitution, and Washington Times.

SIDELIGHTS:

A conservative journalist and television pundit, Mona Charen is the author of a widely syndicated newspaper column and has been a regular panelist on CNN's discussion program The Capital Gang. In 1987 she began to write her own syndicated column, which soon gained a large readership and eventually appeared in more than 200 newspapers nationwide. In 2003 Charen published Useful Idiots: How Liberals Got It Wrong in the Cold War and Still Blame America First. The book criticizes representatives of the American Left for refusing to acknowledge the brutality and injustice of communist regimes in Cuba, North Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia, and the former Soviet Union. Useful Idiots, which takes its title from Joseph Stalin's derisive characterization of Soviet sympathizers abroad, recalls the naiveté and hypocrisy of American leftists who either championed communist dictators or refused to take a hard line against them. While castigating well-known Cold War leftists such as I. F. Stone, George McGovern, and Jane Fonda, Charen chides the mainstream media for its soft-pedal coverage of dictators such as Fidel Castro and the Nicaraguan Sandinistas. Above all, Charen rails against the historical revisionism of Democrats and former communist apologists who, in her estimation, have taken undeserved credit for the collapse of the Soviet Union. For Charen, the Cold War was won by clear-eyed Republicans and, in particular, President Ronald Reagan.

As a partisan diatribe against the moral failures of the American Left, Useful Idiots was, not surprisingly, critiqued largely along political lines. According to Jay Nordlinger, writing in the National Review, "Mona Charen has given us something invaluable.… We will be mining Useful Idiots for years, to set memory right. To score points, yes—but to uphold history, too." Commending Charen's courage and the book's relevance to contemporary politics, Nordlinger added, "Mona Charen has the goods, on everybody. She doesn't shrink from calling a Red a Red, a fellow-traveler a fellow-traveler, a naïf a naïf." However, Washington Monthly reviewer Jamie Malanowski criticized Charen's monolithic portrayal of post-World War II liberals as pacifist and pro-Soviet. While acknowledging, in retrospect, the embarrassing silliness of some leftist sentiments, Malanowski noted that Charen has "chosen the worst quotes in the worst context and ignored the rest." Moreover, Malanowski found serious shortcomings in Charen's suggestion that the Left's misjudgments about Cold War communism apply to post-September 11 Islamic fundamentalism. Yet, as a Publishers Weekly reviewer concluded, "there is a strong market for conservative polemics today, and many readers will cheer Charen on."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

National Review, March 24, 2003, Jay Nordlinger, review of Useful Idiots: How Liberals Got It Wrong in the Cold War and Still Blame America First, pp. 46, 48.

Publishers Weekly, February 10, 2003, review of Useful Idiots, p. 176.

Washington Monthly, April, 2003, Jamie Malanowski, review of Useful Idiots, p. 55.

ONLINE

Townhall.com,http://www.townhall.com/ (July 9, 2004), Mona Charen biography.*

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