Posted by: Dr. Grover B. Proctor, Jr. | 8 June 2018

His Fight Is Over

NOTE: This article was originally written and published June 8, 2018, the day that Charles Krauthammer announced to his friends, colleagues, and fans that his fight with cancer was nearing an end. Today, June 21, we learned that he has gone to his rest.


A truly great intellect (brilliant), spirit (humane), analyst, writer, and thinker has been silenced. As he, himself, announced two weeks ago on the Washington Post website, “My fight is over.”

Charles KrauthammerCharles Krauthammer has died of an aggressive cancer at 68 years old.

I need to go all the way back to the mind and writings of Christian apologist C.S. Lewis to identify an intelligence and a body of ideas, so cogently and irrefutably expressed, as those of Charles Krauthammer. When he became a regular at 6:00 p.m. on cable television news, I tried never to miss the program. I knew that he would address the complex issues of the day — issues invariably complicated by rascally people (in and out of government) and infused and confused by the injection of small-minded personal invective — and his opinions and solutions would always emerge smoothly and uncomplicatedly brilliant.

Even on the rare occasion when I disagreed with his conclusions, the correctness of his logic and the inevitability of the flow of his reasoning were always right on target and thought-generating.

“It’s an unusual combination. While he intellectually operates at a very high level, he speaks simply and clearly and compellingly. You don’t have to be a genius to know what he’s talking about.”
— Brit Hume, Fox News

His life was full and multi-faceted, evolving in ways one would be hard-pressed to predict. He was, in this chronological order, a Harvard-trained psychiatrist, a political writer for The New Republic, a speechwriter for Walter Mondale, an ardent “Great Society Liberal” (who would, however, become fully disillusioned of modern Progressive Liberalism), a Reagan Conservative, a Pulitzer Prize winner for his commentary in 1987, a diehard Washington Nationals fan, a Conservative political analyst for Fox News, and the author of the best-selling book Things That Matter: Three Decades of Passions, Pastimes and Politics.
Things That Matter by Charles Krauthammer
My wife Adrianne and I got the audiobook of his 2013 book Things That Matter, and listened to it on a long car trip. The book was a revelation, opening the door to give us a much wider and deeper look into the whole man. We find out, as the title promises, what truly matters to him in his life. The following is from the book’s Introduction.

“What matters? Lives of the good and the great, the innocence of dogs, cunning of cats, the elegance of nature, the wonders of space, the thrown outfield assist, the difference between historical guilt historical responsibility, homage and sacrilege in monumental architecture, fashions and follies and the finer uses of the F-word.”

Below is a video of a book reading and Q&A session Krauthammer did in support of the book. It took place in Washington’s wonderful Politics and Prose bookstore. (And yes, he’ll even explain about his allusion to “the F-word”!)

Here, in its entirety, is the note that Dr. Krauthammer published on the Washington Post website today. And below that is a short excerpt from Things That Matter. Both encapsulate everything we suspected about his wide vision of humanity, his positive outlook, and his generosity to all of us “fans.”

God bless you, sir. And thank you for everything.

A Note to Readers
by Charles Krauthammer
8 JUNE 2018, 12:01 PM

         I have been uncharacteristically silent these past ten months. I had thought that silence would soon be coming to an end, but I’m afraid I must tell you now that fate has decided on a different course for me.
         In August of last year, I underwent surgery to remove a cancerous tumor in my abdomen. That operation was thought to have been a success, but it caused a cascade of secondary complications — which I have been fighting in hospital ever since. It was a long and hard fight with many setbacks, but I was steadily, if slowly, overcoming each obstacle along the way and gradually making my way back to health.
         However, recent tests have revealed that the cancer has returned. There was no sign of it as recently as a month ago, which means it is aggressive and spreading rapidly. My doctors tell me their best estimate is that I have only a few weeks left to live. This is the final verdict. My fight is over.
         I wish to thank my doctors and caregivers, whose efforts have been magnificent. My dear friends, who have given me a lifetime of memories and whose support has sustained me through these difficult months. And all of my partners at The Washington Post, Fox News, and Crown Publishing.
         Lastly, I thank my colleagues, my readers, and my viewers, who have made my career possible and given consequence to my life’s work. 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.

The Washington Post has stated that notes of encouragement and appreciation could be emailed Dr. Krauthammer at THIS ADDRESS.

Things That Matter (excerpt)
Young Charles KrauthammerI’m often asked: “How do you go from Walter Mondale to Fox News?” To which the short answer is: “I was young once.” The long answer begins by noting that this is hardly a novel passage. The path is well trodden, most famously by Ronald Reagan, himself once a New Deal Democrat, and more recently by a generation of neoconservatives, lead by Irving Kristol and Norman Podhoretz. Every story has its idiosyncrasies. These are mine.

I’d been a lifelong Democrat, and in my youth a Great Society liberal. But I had always identified with the party’s Cold War liberals, uncompromising Truman-Kennedy anti-communists led by the likes of Henry Jackson, Hubert Humphrey and Pat Moynihan. Given my social-democratic political orientation, it was natural for me to work for Democrats, handing out leaflets for Henry Jackson in the 1976 Massachusetts Democratic primary (Jackson won; I handed out a lot of leaflets.) and working for Mondale four years later.

After Reagan took office in 1981, however, Democratic foreign policy changed dramatically. Some, of course, had begun their slide toward isolationism years earlier with George McGovern’s “Come Home America” campaign. But the responsibility of governance imposes discipline. When the Soviets provocatively moved Intermediate-range nuclear forces (INF) into Eastern Europe, President Carter and German chancellor Helmut Schmidt got NATO to approve the counter deployment of American INFs in Western Europe.

However, as soon as they lost power in 1981, the Democrats did an about-face. They fell in the thrall of the “nuclear freeze,” an idea of unmatched strategic vacuity, which would have canceled the American IMF deployment while freezing the Soviet force in place. The result would have been a major strategic setback, undermining the nuclear guarantee that underwrote the NATO alliance.

Years later, leading European social democrats repented their youthful part in the anti-nuclear movement of the early ’80s. But the Democratic Party never did. It went even further left. It reflexively opposed every element of the Reagan foreign policy that ultimately brought total victory in the Cold War: the defense buildup, the resistance to Soviet gains in Central America and the blunt “evil empire” rhetoric that gave hope and succor to dissidents in the gulag. Democrats denounced such talk as provocative and naïve — the pronouncements of “an amiable dunce,” to quote Clark Clifford’s famous phrase disdaining Reagan.

And most relevant now, Democrats became implacable foes of missile defense, in large part because the idea originated with Reagan. The resistance was militant and nearly theological. It lasted 30 years — until, well, today, when a Democratic administration, facing North Korean nuclear threats, frantically puts in place (on Guam, in Alaska, in California, and off the Korean coast) the few missile-defense systems that had survived decades of Democratic opposition and defunding.

I wrote most of the New Republic editorials opposing the Democratic Party’s foreign policy of retreat, drawing fierce resistance from and occasioning public debate with my more traditionally liberal TNR colleagues. My attack on the nuclear freeze, announced the publisher rather ruefully at the next editorial meeting, produced more canceled subscriptions than any other article in the magazine’s history. At that time, I still saw myself as trying to save the soul of the Democratic Party, which to me meant keeping alive the activist anti-Communist tradition of Truman and Kennedy. But few other Democrats followed. By the mid-1980s, Humphrey and Jackson were dead and Moynihan had declined to pick up their mantle. The Cold War contingent of the Democratic Party essentially disappeared. As someone who had never had any illusions about either communism or Soviet power, I gave up on the Democrats.

On foreign policy, as the cliché goes, I didn’t leave the Democratic Party. It left me.

Not so on domestic policy. The Democratic Party remained true to itself. I changed. The origin of that evolution is simple: I’m open to empirical evidence. The results of the Great Society experiments started coming in and began showing that, for all its good intentions, the War on Poverty was causing irreparable damage to the very communities it was designed to help. Charles Murray’s Losing Ground was one turning point. Another, more theoretical but equally powerful, was Mancur Olson’s The Rise and Decline of Nations which opened my eyes to the inexorable “institutional sclerosis” that corrodes and corrupts the ever-enlarging welfare state. The ’80s and ’90s saw the further accumulation of a vast body of social science evidence — produced by two generations of critics from James Q. Wilson to Heather McDonald, writing in The Public Interest, City Journal and elsewhere — on the limits and failures of the ever-expanding Leviathan state.

As I became convinced of the practical and theoretical defects of the social-democratic tendencies of my youth, it was but a short distance to a philosophy of restrained, free-market governance that gave more space and place to the individual and to the civil society that stands between citizen and state. In a kind of full-circle return, I found my eventual political home in a vision of limited government that, while providing for the helpless, is committed above all to guaranteeing individual liberty and the pursuit of one’s own Millian “ends of life.”

Such has been my trajectory. Given my checkered past, I’ve offered this brief personal history for those interested in what forces, internal and external, led me to change direction both vocationally and ideologically. I’ve elaborated it here because I believe that while everyone has the right to change views, one does at least owe others an explanation. The above is mine. This book represents the product of that journey.

Reprinted from the book Things That Matter: Three Decades of Passions, Pastimes and Politics. Copyright 2013 by Charles Krauthammer. Published by Crown Forum, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Random House LLC, a Penguin Random House Company.





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