Now more than ever, the urge to bury my head in the sand and forget about the problems that plague our nation is stronger than ever before in my lifetime. But, if everyone carried that attitude, our republic would be in shambles. So, it’s not what I’m going to do. And, it’s not what he would’ve done… the late Charles Krauthammer, my conservative hero.
“You’re betraying your whole life if you don’t say what you think, and you don’t say it honestly and bluntly,” Charles once said. And he’s right, though recently, I’d almost forgotten that. Discouraged by politics on both sides of the aisle, I longed for a calm, rational voice to cut through all the noise. I longed for Charles and it was then that I remembered the lessons Charles left behind.
I grew up in an O’Reilly Factor household. As a kid, I’d complain about Bill’s occasional loud outbursts, but Charles was different when he appeared in the “No Spin Zone.” I recognized his ability to rise above the frenzied chatter and eloquently express his views. Even when he was blunt, he never made it personal. He always remained civil.
Charles never shied away from a debate, something far too many of us avoid. He understood that America depended on the spirit of debate. Charles held our leaders to a high standard, hurling criticism at both sides of the aisle. On Hillary Clinton, he said, “What she needs are lying lessons from her husband, who was one of the great liars of all time.” Charles abhorred the way the Republican Primary played out in 2016, calling Donald Trump a “rodeo clown.”
Charles had firm beliefs, but, above all, he was a thinker. His weekly columns didn’t tell readers what to think, and, often, didn’t even tell readers what he thought. He liked to question and ponder, leaving the reader with something to think about for themselves.
But most remarkable of all, was Charles’ courage. While a student at Harvard, Charles became paralyzed after a diving accident. He would remain paralyzed for the rest of his life, with no use of his legs, and limited use of his hands. In spite of his condition, he graduated on time.
Becoming a doctor, Charles tackled a three-year residency at Massachusetts General Hospital before moving to Washington, D.C. There, he reignited a passion for politics, working as a speechwriter for Vice President Walter Mondale, and as a writer at The New Republic. He would make a name for himself during the Reagan years, embracing the President’s vision for American global leadership which he dubbed, “the Reagan Doctrine.”
Colleagues at The Washington Post–where Charles would remain with his column for over thirty years–remember that he explained policy better than policymakers. The Pulitzer Prize winning columnist attained a larger following as a member of Fox News, regularly appearing on Special Report. To top it off, Charles became a New York Times bestselling author with Things That Matter, and posthumously with, The Point of It All. Viewers hardly ever realized Charles was paralyzed, and he was proud of that, because it meant he had succeeded in never letting his paralysis define him.
Charles was a doctor, a philosopher, and a television star, but he remained humble because he recognized that he was just a man who wanted to share his ideas with the country he loved. The human side of Charles was on display every day, through his wit and wisdom, and through the loves of his life: family and baseball. He called his wife Robyn, the “co-author of his life,” and he adored his son Daniel. His love for America’s pastime was so strong that he called Opening Day at Fenway Park one of his favorite holidays.
When Charles passed away in 2018, it felt like I lost a friend.
I never met him, but, through his work, I came to count on his reassuring voice. Charles was the first person I ever looked at and said, “I’d like to do what he does.”
Even though my confidence wavers from time to time and the discourse can be so discouraging, his lessons stay with me. I joined Lone Conservative one month after Charles’ death. I wanted to do the best I could to carry on his legacy while creating my own.
I don’t know what the future holds, and I don’t claim to be the next Dr. Krauthammer, but if I’m a sliver as successful in life as Charles was, I’ll know I made it.
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.