The man who gave the world a nudge

Charles Krauthammer, who passed away on June 21 at the age of 68, was one of the most courageous, articulate, and influential voices of our time. Winner of the 1987 Pulitzer Prize for commentary, he was best known as a commentator on Fox News. He shared his insights on politics for nearly forty years and was welcomed into millions of homes, yet most most of his audience never knew he was handicapped.  

Krauthammer was born in Manhattan in 1950 to Jewish parents who fled Europe. His father taught him to value education and to never be ignorant.  Charles attended McGill University in Montreal, Oxford, and Harvard Medical School.

While at Harvard, Charles and a friend decided to go swimming one day. Diving head first into a pool, he suffered a serious injury in a freak accident damaging his spinal cord.  As a medical student, he knew exactly what had happened.

This injury left Charles paralyzed, but it did not discourage him from completing his education. He would end up graduating in 1975, becoming a trained psychiatrist. Like Franklin Delano Roosevelt, he learned to fiercely deny his disability because he wanted to lead a productive life.

A few years later he discovered his passion for political journalism, writing an oped that was published in both The New Republic magazine and the Washington Post in 1978.

In 1980, Krauthammer was hired to be a speechwriter for Walter Mondale, Jimmy Carter’s Vice President. After Carter lost to Ronald Reagan, Krauthammer was hired by The New Republic writing editorials and he would go on to be an important part of the political scene in Washington, DC.

It was while covering the Reagan Administration, which he would come to support, that he converted to conservatism. He coined the phrase “The Reagan Doctrine” to explain Reagan’s Cold War policies which led to the collapse of the Soviet Union.  As a medical doctor, Krauthammer believed in weighing the evidence and saw how government programs can often hurt the people they intend to help and weaken the bonds of civil society.

In 2005 he became a Fox News Contributor appearing as a regular panelist on Special Report, first with Brit Hume and then with current host Bret Baier.  Liberal or a conservative, Krauthammer was always a fair and honest observer of events. Though he disagreed with the Democrats on many issues, Krauthammer also had strong objections to the policies of President Donald Trump. What Krauthammer cared about most was what was best for America at home and abroad.

In all of his writings and commentary, Krauthammer never kept it personal and focused on policies. First and foremost, Krauthammer saw himself as “an honest critic” who believed in taking his arguments to their logical conclusion. Communicating in plain language, he would convince the reader or the viewer by persuading them in a logical sequence taking them from what they believed to what he believed. In this manner, he made politics which can often be complex understandable and quite human.

Charles also was very optimistic about America and its ability to produce great leaders when they are needed. He never forgot that it is people that make great events possible. In Krauthammer’s view, when we needed a Lincoln or an FDR or a Reagan, that is thankfully who we got. Amazingly enough, Krauthammer was one of those people who by the power of his intellect also made a great contribution.

During his life, Charles Krauthammer accomplished many things. He led a full life as a journalist, as a husband to his wife Robyn, and as a father to his son Daniel.  But his most lasting contribution was as a man of ideas. What makes his achievements even more remarkable was that he accomplished all of this after his tragic accident. Most might have given up, but not Charles Krauthammer.  

He showed courage not only during his many years in a wheelchair, but his greatest battle was this past year when he was diagnosed with cancer.  He kept fighting for life up until the very end and was inspiration to millions of people.  When death came he left these words as his testament: “I leave this life with no regrets. It was a wonderful life and complete with the great love and great works that make it worth living.”

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