When Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer announced earlier this month that he had only weeks to live, he received an outpouring of support from fans, casual readers and folks who said they disagreed with his opinions but greatly respected them.
After his death on Thursday, we asked Post readers to tell us about a time his writing resonated with them. Here’s what some of you said, along with some tweets about Krauthammer that we enjoyed reading.
When I graduated from high school in 1993, my mom clipped the column “Beware the Study of Turtles.” While I learned I do not have the capacity to avoid the pitfalls of turtle study, there was another piece of advice in that column that has stuck with me: that by the time you learn to love yourself, you will be a senior citizen. In the age of “you have to love yourself before you love someone else,” I think the column was the first time I heard that maybe that adage was feel-good BS. That maybe it’s okay not to worry so much about loving yourself, and instead to just live your life — albeit sometimes wondering how many turtles were standing on top of each other keeping our planet stable. — David Petitti, Deerfield, Ill.
Charles Krauthammer’s intelligence, coupled with his unequaled wit and civility, are never to be heard again in real time. Only in short snippets will I be able to relive his unique style and decency in a society that has become indifferent to the rare breed that was Dr. Krauthammer. He was unsurpassed in his writing. He is not quite history yet, but will be soon enough, undoubtedly. The author Edward Bulwer-Lytton said, “The pen is mightier than the sword.” For me, there is no greater example of this in current times than Charles Krauthammer. I believe there is something beyond all of this when we physically leave this world. Dr. Krauthammer’s dignity in life and in facing his approaching and inescapable death will stay with me for the rest of my days. — Jana O’Brien, Glen Ellyn, Ill.
I started reading Dr. Krauthammer’s columns in the New Republic in the early 1980s. I found his clarity and force of intellect inspirational. As he became a leading voice of the neocons and their disastrous Iraq intervention, and later a regular Fox News talking head, I wondered what I ever saw in him. But his column had become a habit. I read his column on the death of his brother, Marcel, the day it was published. I’ve never read any other column — from anybody else — that resonated so deeply. His death is our loss. — Daniel Liebler, Brentwood, Tenn.
Dr. Krauthammer’s “In Defense of the F-Word” [July 2, 2004] created a phrase that remains as relevant today as when the column was published. The article, which covers the reaction to Vice President Richard B. Cheney’s personal instructions to Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) on the Senate floor, is a masterpiece of American literature. Alternately pungent, lyrical, and hilarious, he highlights, then smashes, political hypocrisy with the zest of taking a sledgehammer to a watermelon. So, in the immortal words of Dr. Krauthammer, give cancer “the deuce.” — Todd Stansbury, Charlottesville
“This is a formidable enemy. To dismiss it as a bunch of cowards perpetrating senseless acts of violence is complacent nonsense” [“To War, Not to Court,” Sept. 12, 2001]. — Forrest Thomas, Aspen, Colo.
Being from Canada, my family’s proclivity for American politics might have appeared odd to the untrained eye. Anyone who was at my dinner table on Friday nights could tell you, though, that the connection between our generations spent in Canada and our tendency to watch CNN or Fox News while eating supper was my grandfather, my Papa Corky. To him, America was not a country in which to reside, but an idea with which to engage. It was a concept of innovation and ingenuity — of optimism and follow-up. Huddled always at one end of the dinner table, he and I would whittle away at the night in heated debate; he a Greatest Generation conservative, and I a liberal born in 1999.
And from our fights about Barack Obama and John McCain to those about The Post and the Wall Street Journal, one of our few points of agreement was always Charles Krauthammer.
Dr. Krauthammer, who also grew up in Canada, was one of the only right-leaning columnists whose writing I knew I just had to read if I was ever going to keep up with my Papa Corky. Dr. Krauthammer had the ability to imply that, in retrospect, everything he had written in a given column ought to have simply been common sense in the first place. This made rebuttals harder for me to conceive, but I usually tried anyway, because I just loved talking to my grandfather too much to merely nod along.
This past December, my Papa Corky passed away, and I was left without my most treasured opponent. Still, I continued to read Krauthammer’s older columns for the same reason I looked forward to my Shabbat dinner debates: because I loved watching reasoned conservatism in action, because I relished the idea of constant curiosity paired with accumulated wisdom, and because both of these remarkable men showed me that — in a politically volatile time — it is not only possible, but beautiful, to disagree with those you’re closest to. — Sarah Farb, Toronto
Dr. Krauthammer’s memorial column for Meg Greenfield [“The Gift of Navigating a Life Worthwhile,” May 24, 1999], recalling how she was among the few attendants at his father’s hasty, temporary D.C. interment, showing up in the cold rain just to be there for him. I rarely agreed with Dr. Krauthammer’s views, but I respected him enormously, and his death is a loss to the world political community. — Jane Ballard, Chester, Va.
I’d never been a person who had an interest in or passion for politics. I couldn’t follow the news when my husband watched, until Charles Krauthammer. He broke through the white noise, the world’s noise, my life’s noise, and brought a sense of clarity and sense to the politics of the day. A guest would opine some very smart-sounding thought that would, by the end of his sentence, have become a crazed notion that bordered on ridiculousness. Dr. Krauthammer would then be asked his view, and behold, it all made sense.
Reading his columns gives a sense of “I get it” to politics, life and the world around me. I said to my husband, during the 2016 election, that I would much prefer to write in “Charles Krauthammer” as my vote. But I told myself Charles would scold me for wasting my vote since he was not running and that, if the vote came down to me, I should use my vote wisely. I did, and I voted the way I thought he would want me to. He made my vote count, by allowing me to hear and understand what each candidate was really saying.
My husband laughs, “You agree with Charles Krauthammer more than you do with me!” Our lives have been touched by Dr. Krauthammer in the best of ways. We were devastated to hear of his diagnosis and passing. I planted forget-me-nots and daisies in his honor. Ever brothers. Ever young. Ever summer. — Paula Parris, Tahlequah, Okla.
There were three columns: The one about his brother [“Marcel, My Brother,” Jan. 27, 2006], the one about his dog Chester [“Of Dogs and Men,” June 10, 2003], and the one about the teacher who saved his life [“A Man for All Seasons,” Aug. 25, 2000]. I kept copies of these passages at the front of my daybook with the rest of my inspiration stuff. I was a teacher. In our family, we would often say “I wonder what Charlie would think” about a situation. For 30 years, I followed his ideas. My son did not want to tell me what Charles announced a few weeks ago. He asked me to sit down. — Janey Riad, Pickering, Ontario
I have taken frequent pride in wearing a Cleveland Indians hat. Not the model bearing a red, but colorless, “C” as its anodyne insignia, but the one sporting Chief Wahoo manically grinning defiance, as I saw it, at the forces of right thinking and moral uplift. If any politically correct lefty was offended by my headwear, well, so much the better.
Had I ever thought about how Charles Krauthammer would have reacted had he caught a glimpse of me and my hat some evening at Nationals Park, I would have been confident of his approval. After all, Charles, like me, didn’t like being dictated to by “the language police ensuring that no one anywhere gives offense to anyone about anything.”
So when I came across his Post column “Redskins and reason” [Oct. 17, 2013], I expected a delightfully biting confirmation of my view that changing the team’s name would be an act of abject surrender to the social-justice warriors whom I despise, along with their “safe spaces.”
That’s not quite what I got. Instead, Charles suggested I stop viewing this as a matter of principle worth going to war over, and that I go a bit easier on the other side. This wasn’t Brown v. Board of Education, he said, but a question of language usage — and the connotation of words changes over time.
At the same time, Charles urged everyone to “recognize that there are many people of good will for whom ‘Washington Redskins’ contains sentimental and historical attachment — and not an ounce of intended animus.” He concluded that we all should “turn down the temperature.” What’s at issue, he wrote, “is not high principle but adaptation to a change in linguistic nuance.” He found this to be a “close call,” but said he would personally “err on the side of not using the word if others are available.”
Quintessential Charles. Thoughtful. No more inclined to let his knee jerk in unison with the “conservative” side than to accept the left’s — or anybody’s — received wisdom.
Charles hasn’t necessarily persuaded me the Redskins’ name should be changed. But he has made me think again, and convinced me this is an issue on which I should indeed “turn down the temperature.”
And I’m not sure I will continue to wear my Chief Wahoo hat. I’ll have to think about it. — Howard Jaeckel, New York
I consider myself liberal on many topics, centrist on others, and in great sympathy with some conservative views on yet others. I wrestle with myself often on one particular issue: the treatment of farmed animals — and have ended up predominantly vegetarian, only eating animal products that I know are sourced from a farm in which they have been humanely raised. When I do eat meat (very infrequently), I usually get it from Polyface Farms of “Food, Inc.” fame. I was astonished — and grateful — when I read Charles Krauthammer’s May 8, 2015, essay in the National Review titled “I Am a Person for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.” I urge you to read it — but offer here the introductory paragraphs:
“We often wonder how people of the past, including the most revered and refined, could have universally engaged in conduct now considered unconscionable. Such as slavery. How could the Founders, so sublimely devoted to human liberty, have lived with — some participating in — human slavery? Or fourscore years later, how could the saintly Lincoln, an implacable opponent of slavery, have nevertheless spoken of and believed in African inferiority?
While retrospective judgment tends to make us feel superior to our ancestors, it should really evoke humility. Surely some contemporary practices will be deemed equally abominable by succeeding generations. The only question is: Which ones?
I’ve long thought it will be our treatment of animals. I’m convinced that our great-grandchildren will find it difficult to believe that we actually raised, herded, and slaughtered them on an industrial scale — for the eating.” — Richard Karel, Baltimore