Pulitzer Prize-winning author and commentator Charles Krauthammer is dying. He’d been battling cancer and seemed to have come out all right, but it took a turn. He released a letter to the media yesterday which was simple in its message, but heartbreaking to read. “I have only a few weeks left to live. This is the final verdict. My fight is over.”
He thanked family and friends for their love and support and then addressed his colleagues, readers and viewers.
“I believe that the pursuit of truth and right ideas through honest debate and rigorous argument is a noble undertaking,” Krauthammer wrote. “I am grateful to have played a small role in the conversations that have helped guide this extraordinary nation’s destiny.”
Charles Krauthammer played no small role. His depth of knowledge and thoughtfulness were the exception rather than the rule in Washington, D.C. His statements carried twice the heft as most others.
Krauthammer graduated from Harvard Medical School in 1975 and practiced psychiatry. He was a resident and then chief resident in psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston before bursting on to the political scene.
We had the pleasure of speaking to Charles Krauthammer several times on Boston Herald Radio and each time he was informative, intellectually honest and an absolute pleasure to talk to.
An ex-Democrat, he joked about being a speechwriter for Vice President Walter Mondale in 1980, remarking, “After 40 years the statute of limitations is up and I can now confess openly.”
He was just as happy to talk about his favorite baseball team, the Washington Nationals, as he was about politics and world events. When a host on Herald Radio quipped about the superiority of the Red Sox over his Nats, he shot back, “Those are fightin’ words.”
Though he was paralyzed in an accident as a young man and confined to a wheelchair, he never expressed self-pity. “All it means is whatever I do is a little bit harder and probably a little bit slower,” he said, “And that’s basically it. Everybody has their cross to bear — everybody.”
Likewise, during his many health struggles he was always stoic and committed to doing his job, showing no hint of the pain he was obviously feeling.
Krauthammer is a man who fell in love with the very concept of America. “America is the only country ever founded on an idea. The only country that is not founded on race or even common history. It’s founded on an idea and the idea is liberty. That is probably the rarest phenomena in the political history of the world; this has never happened before. And not only has it happened, but it’s worked.”
About the Author
Tom Shattuck writes for the Boston Herald.