By Craig Hastings
Last week a great American voice passed away at the age of sixty-eight. I had been watching him on television most every day until he began to make fewer and fewer appearances due to a cancer diagnosis. I have read much of what he has authored in columns published in national news media outlets such as The Washington Post and others. Charles Krauthammer was a brilliant man. He graduated from Harvard Medical School in 1975 after first graduating from McGill University in Canada studying political science. Krauthammer concentrated his medical talents in the field of Psychiatry and Neurology. While attending Harvard, Krauthammer became a quadriplegic as the result of a diving board accident. He returned to school and graduated with his class via some pretty creative study assistance devices he came up with during his extensive stay in the hospital.
In his book “Things That Matter”, Krauthammer explains in detail how he decided to walk away from his medical profession and delve back into politics and the science of it all. He entered the arena a leftist Democrat but was years later drawn into the Ronald Regan redesigned conservative movement. Krauthammer felt the Democrats are the ones that changed, not him, leaving him treading the shark infested oceans of politics. If you had ever watched (studied) him on television you quickly concluded Krauthammer was defending his own politics; he wouldn’t hesitate to voice his opposition or his support for one politician/party based on his knowledge or opinion of any topic of the day.
So why am I talking about Charles Krauthammer today? Because I have to tell someone how much respect and admiration I have for this man. To someone like me, of just average intellect and ability, I am in awe of this man. How is it that while we are all created of the same bits, pieces, and liquids, that a few people like Charles Krauthammer managed to get seconds, thirds, and fourths, when brain components were passed out in our assembly lines of human creation? There have been a few times in my own life I felt as though my brain assembly person sneezed and missed me as I passed by their work station or I didn’t get the recall notice for a faulty part that was installed in me.
If you read any of Krauthammer’s writings then you know that you must have a dictionary at the ready and open during the read. Why? Because so many of his words must be looked up for their definition before you can continue the read! His book “Things That Matter” should be considered a college level lesson in vocabulary usage. My first time through the book was a slow motion read because I had to stop countless times to look up a word….many words! Well wait a minute; I mean to say this is how I was required to read his book. I do know a person or two that probably do know the meaning of the countless words that I didn’t. My apologies to those people. But the words are not my reasoning for the brilliance.
When Krauthammer spoke you listened because what he had to say made so much sense about whatever world political controversy was taking place. I didn’t always agree with what he had to opine but I still felt the relevance of what he was saying even though I rather have not! He would sit on a panel with four other “experts” on FOX NEWS to discus controversial political chaos before a lone commentator. While the other three weighed in with their own professional and expert commentary that might have been well thought out and researched analysis; then it was Krauthammer’s turn.
When Charles spoke, for me anyway, the atmosphere of the room changed. His research was research done on himself. He dissected everything and everybody not only of the topic in discussion but maybe even the thoughts of every person in the room . I was always intimidated by him, and I wasn’t even the one sitting across the table from him. I love this trait and hate it at the same time. To me it’s sheer brilliance. He has his rivals in retreat mode before the battle has even begun. A sixty-eight year old quadriplegic more powerful than the strongest of men! Brilliant!