On Friday, Charles Krauthammer, the unchallenged dean of intellectual conservatism over the past four decades, announced that he was dying. It’s tragic news, particularly for those of us who grew up reading him and being shaped by his worldview, who appreciated his willingness to tell hard truths and to consider alternative viewpoints before coming to a conclusion. Rarely has there been such an accomplished wordsmith in the same person as such a gracious and thorough thinker.
Krauthammer wasn’t a man who reveled in the pure sport of politics – he was someone who saw politics as a surface gloss on deeper debates about values. And he was someone who devoted himself to living a fulfilled and purposeful life. Despite the unique tragedy of his paralysis while attending Harvard Medical School, he went on to graduate and become a resident in psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital, work on the DSM-II, and then move onto essay writing, winning the Pulitzer Prize for commentary in 1987. An ardent advocate of a muscular, liberty-seeking America abroad and a cogent critic of governmental overreach at home, Krauthammer was by far the most respected conservative voice of his generation, his generation’s answer to William F. Buckley.
Krauthammer announced his health situation in a statement. He explained that he had a cancerous tumor in his abdomen that was operated on in August of last year, and that the operation resulted in secondary complications, necessitating his continued hospitalization. A battery of new tests showed that the cancer has now returned. Krauthammer writes:
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 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.
His full statement can be read here:
“My fight is over.” Charles Krauthammer says he’s got weeks to live. Very sad. pic.twitter.com/SIfdz1tQo0
— Tim Alberta (@TimAlberta) June 8, 2018
No words can express what Krauthammer’s loss will mean to our public discourse and to the future of American thought better than Krauthammer’s own. As usual, Krauthammer said it best.
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