One of the things that this columnist looks forward to at Christmas is books — new ones hot off the press. One of the gifts received was “Charles Krauthammer, The Point of It all.” Krauthammer was a gifted political columnist for nearly four decades. His column was a regular on this newspaper’s editorial pages for many years.
The book was edited by the late columnist’s son, Daniel Krauthammer. His father died in June 2018.
Charles suffered a diving accident when he was 22 years old that severed his spinal cord and left much of his body paralyzed. He took the suffering and his partly paralyzed body in stride, saying that everybody has a cross to bear. “All it means is whatever I do is a little bit harder and probably a little bit slower and with a little more effort.”
In 2013, he said in an interview, “One of the things I aspire to in all my columns is I try never to use the word I . . . to me every time you use it, it’s a failure . . . I’d rather let the words speak for themselves.”
A medical doctor, he left psychiatry to write “because I felt history happening outside the examining-room door. That history was being shaped by a war of ideas and I wanted to be in the arena . . . enjoy intellectual combat, but I don’t live for it. I wanted to be in the arena because some things matter, some things need to be said, some things need to be defended.”
Krauthammer once said: “You’re betraying your whole life if you don’t say what you think — and you don’t say it honestly and bluntly.”
The book that captures your attention was nearly completed when cancer struck. His son had been helping him organize the book and he completed it, although the son wrote only the “Introduction” and a final entry (his father’s eulogy), but 95 percent are columns, essays and speeches by his father.
His son said his father’s writing or voice “was a uniquely insightful and powerful one in our national discourse . . . my father’s writing, as displayed in this book, is not just thought-provoking but also — and even more impressively — feeling-provoking.”Political columns, like editorials, are a success if they create in the reader thoughts about the subject at hand. Of course, a purpose also is to attempt to sway the reader’s opinions to the writer’s way of thinking, and at the same time realizing that not everybody is going to agree with the writer.
In 2013, Krauthammer spoke about his feelings: “There’s a great line by Tom Stoppard, who said about his own life as a writer and what he tried to do, he said something like, ‘You know . . . you put words together all your life, and every once in a while, you get them in the right order and you give the world a nudge.’ So I hope I get the words in the right order every once in a while and give the world a nudge . . . It’s what I exist to do, really.”
Many of the columns in the book once appeared in The Missourian.
We have always believed his columns were “thought-provoking and feeling-provoking.”