I’ve immersed myself in the conservative movement through journalism and activism since the age of 15. In my time, I’ve seen young, conservative stars rise and fall like Icarus. The limelight is as dangerous as it is attractive, and hubris can cause young conservative activists to fall faster than they rise. But who’s our Daedalus, the master craftsman who gives us our wings in the first place? Look no further than the late Charles Krauthammer. For more than three decades, his words have filled our newspapers and airwaves.
I never met Charles, but after avidly reading his columns for years, I just think that’s what he’d want me to call him.
I’ve been told that true mastery of any activity is the capability to teach it clearly and explain it in layman’s terms. Week in and week out, Charles cut through the complexities and gave the American people clarity. He drowned out the noise until there was no nonsense. He was much more than a columnist, Fox News analyst, or a bestselling author; he became an educator.
Battles for bylines and fame rage on, and every conservative writer wishes for a career like Charles, myself included; but few are willing to put in the work in order to get there. Yes, I’m talking about crafting a well-founded argument, but I’m also talking about the work it takes to leave a piece of your soul in every article and accept that vulnerability. Charles mastered that.
As a 22-year-old Harvard Medical School student, Charles became paralyzed in a tragic accident. “I knew exactly what happened,” Charles recounted, “I knew why I wasn’t able to move, and I knew what that meant.” It meant that Charles’ future, like his body in the hospital, was in traction.
Paralysis never slowed Charles down. Not for a second.
With the help of his professor, Hermann Lisco, Charles finished medical school. Lecturers would come to his bedside and project slides on the ceiling of his hospital room as Charles laid idly in bed.
Yes, Charles’ legacy will be defined by his political contributions. While his commentary is full of insight, those were never my favorite. My favorites of his actually had nothing to do with politics. They were his eulogies. and revelations about life and death.
I think Charles’ revelations about life and death were so profound because after Charles escaped death, he knew full well that life was a gift full of second chances. He rejoiced not only in his own life, but others, even if they were taken much too soon. Unafraid, he rejoiced in the chances and moments of life granted to him because he understood the grim alternative.
In a column he wrote after the death of the surgeon who saved his life as a young man, Hermann Lisco, Charles had this to say:
“As our world got narrower, Hermann’s goal was to keep us human, in touch with a larger world and larger possibilities….
That was Hermann’s great gift: He was a man of orderly habits and orderly mind, but he never flinched from challenging the orderly….
Those who were touched by this man, so wise and gracious and goodly, mourn him.”
When his brother Marcel passed, Krauthammer reflected on the times spent as a child with him:
“There is a black-and-white photograph of us, two boys alone. He’s maybe 11, I’m 7… In the photo, nothing but sand, sea and sky, the pure elements of our summers together. We are both thin as rails, tanned to blackness and dressed in our summer finest: bathing suits and buzz cuts. Marcel’s left arm is draped around my neck with that effortless natural ease — and touch of protectiveness — that only older brothers know.
Whenever I look at that picture, I know what we were thinking at the moment it was taken: It will forever be thus. Ever brothers. Ever young. Ever summer.
My brother Marcel died on Tuesday, Jan. 17. It was winter. He was 59.”
In a more joyful eulogy, Charles remembered the family dog, Chester:
“Chester is what psychiatrists mean when they talk about unconditional love. Unbridled is more like it. Come into our house, and he was so happy to see you, he would knock you over. (Deliverymen learned to leave things at the front door.)…
Some will protest that in a world with so much human suffering, it is something between eccentric and obscene to mourn a dog. I think not. After all, it is perfectly normal, indeed, deeply human to be moved when nature presents us with a vision of great beauty. Should we not be moved when it produces a vision — a creature — of the purest sweetness?”
In his last column, Charles said, “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.”
When words failed most, Charles had something to say. While he is now resting in peaceful silence, his words will continue on.
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.