Where and when
Kathleen Parker’s clear, descriptive, lively writing underscores her common-sense approach to life’s challenges. Twice weekly, she assesses the country’s mental health with a Rorschach uniquely her own—a reporter’s gimlet eye combined with a sense of humor that Parker attributes to having grown up with five mothers. “My ambitious goal,” she says, “is to try to inject a little sanity into a world gone barking mad.”
Now one of America’s most popular opinion columnists, Parker is at home both inside and outside the Washington Beltway. But she came to column-writing the old-fashioned way, working her way up journalism’s ladder from smaller papers to larger ones. “I never set out to become a commentator—and do continue to resist the label ’pundit’—but I found that keeping my opinion out of my writing was impossible,” says Parker. “One can only stand watching from the sidelines for so long without finally having to say, ’Um, excuse me, but you people are nuts.’”
Praised for “attacking ignorance and stupidity with vividness and originality” by the judges of the prestigious H.L. Mencken Writing Award, which she won in 1993, Parker gained a rapt and appreciative audience throughout the 1990s. But it was in the days and months following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and the ensuing wars in Afghanistan and Iraq that her attempts to “inject a little sanity” established her as a premier commentator. Her writings in support of American troops, first-responders and other front-line participants in the war on terror were among the reasons The Week magazine named her as one of the country’s top five columnists in 2004 and 2005.
Parker started her column in 1987 when she was a staff writer for The Orlando Sentinel, and she went into national syndication in 1995. Along the way, she has contributed articles to The Weekly Standard, Time, Town & Country, Cosmopolitan and Fortune Small Business, and she serves on USA Today’s Board of Contributors and writes for that newspaper’s op-ed page. She is a regular guest on “The Chris Matthews Show” on NBC.
As an undergraduate, Parker studied in both the United States and abroad, including the University of Valencia in Spain. She holds a master’s degree in Spanish from Florida State University, and is writer in residence at the Buckley School of Public Speaking in Camden, S.C.
Parker is married and has three sons. She lives in Camden and Washington, D.C.