“There could be no greater irony: For all the sublimity of art, physics, music, mathematics and other manifestations of human genius, everything depends on the mundane, frustrating, often debased vocation known as politics (and its most exactly subspecialty – statecraft). Because if we don’t get politics right, everything else risks extinction. “We grow justly weary of our politics. But we must remember this: Politics – in all its grubby, grasping, corrupt, contemptible manifestations – is sovereign in human affairs. Everything ultimately rests upon it. “Fairly or not, politics is the driver of history. It will determine whether we will live long enough to be heard one day. Out there. By them the few – the only – who got it right.”
Many bright lights have gone out in our nation’s capital in recent years but none brighter than the light that was extinguished on June 21 with the passing of Dr. Charles Krauthammer. The next time I start feeling sorry for myself, I will stop and remember this remarkable man, who never felt sorry for himself despite being paralyzed from the waist down when he was a 24-year old Harvard Medical School student. After his accident, he went on to graduate on time and near the top of his medical school class and become the pre-eminent political commentator of his generation while living a life of dignity and decency in an increasingly undignified and indecent world. Dr. Krauthammer passed away less than two weeks after penning a moving farewell note to his friends and readers. Dr. Krauthammer was brilliant, principled, intellectually and morally generous, witty and humble. He never asked any leave for his disability nor called attention to himself; by every report he was a steadfast, loyal and giving friend and a mentor to many men and women who were privileged to work with him. He was also a fine writer; anyone who hasn’t already done so should pick up a copy of his seminal collection of essays, Things That Matter, to celebrate his life and legacy and to learn from him. His political analysis was grounded in facts, which set him apart from many of his peers who increasingly ignore facts and traffic in ideology and name-calling. Dr. Krauthammer was gifted with an extraordinary intellect and taught us that our minds are the greatest gift that God gives us and that we must use it to reason, to imagine, to empathize, and to treat others with kindness, generosity and respect. But he also taught us that we must never sacrifice our principles or stop speaking honestly about what is important because we owe that not only to ourselves but to other people. Softening our views in the name of political correctness is an act of moral cowardice; we can deliver the message politely but we should never water down its content. In the end, the things that matter in this life are not money or station but character, honesty, love, respect for others, and family and friends. In those things, Dr. Krauthammer was as rich as any many who ever lived.