Opinion: My dear Charles


Charles Krauthammer, a man who has beaten unbelievable odds and overcome obstacles that would defeat most mortals, has finally encountered one foe over which he says he can’t claim victory.

In a note to readers Friday, he announced that he has only a few weeks to live following a battle with cancer.

The nobility with which Charles has conducted his life was as-ever apparent in his brief note. With his customary writer’s concision and his physician’s precision, he explained his circumstances without sentimentality. A tumor had been removed from his abdomen early on, he reported, and though his prospects for recovery had seemed good for a while, the cancer returned and is moving rapidly.

Most people don’t get to say goodbye, and almost none as eloquently. He thanked all who have helped him along the way, including colleagues as well as his readers and television viewers, “who have made my career possible and given consequence to my life’s work.”

In the final two paragraphs, Charles summed up his life and principles: “I believe that the pursuit of truth and right ideas through honest debate and rigorous argument is a noble undertaking. I am grateful to have played a small role in the conversations that have helped guide this extraordinary nation’s destiny.

“I leave this life with no regrets. It was a wonderful life — full and complete with the great loves and great endeavors that make it worth living. I am sad to leave, but I leave with the knowledge that I lived the life that I intended.”

Anyone reading those words must be thinking the same: I hope I can say that someday. Of course, someday is any day, as Charles learned at 22 when a diving accident left him paralyzed from the neck down.

Undeterred, he completed medical school and became a psychiatrist. Charles later recounted that professors came to his room and projected his lessons on the ceiling over the bed where he lay.

He went to work in government and then political commentary, casting a dispassionate eye on the world around us. Whether in writing or on TV, it never seemed that Charles had a personal ax to grind. Between his calm demeanor and a probing intellect, he seemed most like an anthropologist remarking upon the fascinating behaviors of an indigenous people.

When I think of Charles, several fond memories come to mind. First, he is a consummate gentleman. He is also warm, affectionate and funny. Once when we were both in the White House toward the end of the George W. Bush administration, he said to me, “We better enjoy this, because I have a feeling it’ll be the last time we’ll see the inside of this place.” Barack Obama had just been elected.

As it turned out, we did see each other inside the White House again not long after.

I was stalled at the security gate, unable to convince the guards that I should be allowed to pass. As I was about to leave in frustration, Charles pulled up in his van, winked at me and said to the guard, who obviously knew Charles well: “She’s with me.” Calling out to me, he said, “C’mon, I’ll give you a ride.”

I was as tickled as any girl’s ever been when the coolest guy in the class shows her the slightest attention. This is how I’ll always remember you, Charles, if you’re reading this — as the smartest, handsomest, most dignified gentleman and scholar ever to wield a pen in the pursuit of truth and right ideas.

It is incomprehensible that you are soon to leave us, but I’m not at all surprised that God would need a good shrink.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Opinion

Commentary: Teens talk Parkland impact; toddlers abused by separation
Commentary: Teens talk Parkland impact; toddlers abused by separation

Christie: Yes, separating migrant children from parents at U.S.-Mexico border is child abuse UPDATE: Days after the following blog post, President Trump signed an executive order reportedly fixing his own zero-tolerance immigration policy that had resulted in more than 2,300 migrant children being separated from their parents who had illegally crossed...
Editorial: Courts must protect Florida’s environment from lawmakers
Editorial: Courts must protect Florida’s environment from lawmakers

A Tallahassee judge has affirmed what most of us already knew: Florida lawmakers have flouted the will of voters by failing to comply with a constitutional amendment meant to buy and preserve fragile lands. Score one each for state’s environment and voters. It shouldn’t be this way, of course — our courts having to so publicly spank...
Editorial cartoon
Editorial cartoon

CARTOON VIEW DAVID HORSEY
POINT OF VIEW: Grand jury recommendations will make our schools safer
POINT OF VIEW: Grand jury recommendations will make our schools safer

The day after the horrific mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, police arrested a student who brought two guns to Palm Beach Lakes High School, and a wave of local copycat threats frightened parents and frayed the nerves of our community. The law enforcement response was swift and certain: even if it was only a sick joke...
Letters Candidate debate best way to learn positions
Letters Candidate debate best way to learn positions

Candidate debate best way to learn positions Florida District 18 is one of the most important congressional races in the country in the upcoming midterm elections. The primary election is Aug. 28. We desperately need to have a televised debate between the two Democratic candidates. The best voter is an educated voter. TV ads, e-mails and flyers are...
More Stories