Charles Krauthammer Announces He Is Dying Of Cancer

Political columnist and commentator Charles Krauthammer has weeks to live.

Charles Krauthammer, a long-time political columnist, television pundit, and political analyst, has announced that he’s dying of cancer:

Charles Krauthammer, the beloved and brilliant Fox News Channel personality who gave up a pioneering career in psychiatry to become a Pulitzer Prize-winning political analyst, on Friday revealed the heartbreaking news that he is in the final stages of a losing battle with cancer.

The 68-year-old’s incisive takes on politics of the day have been missing from Fox News Channel’s “Special Report” for nearly a year as he battled an abdominal tumor and subsequent complications, but colleagues and viewers alike had held out hope that he would return to the evening show he helped establish as must-viewing. But in an eloquent, yet unblinking letter to co-workers, friends and Fox News Channel viewers, Krauthammer disclosed that he has just weeks to live.

“I have been uncharacteristically silent these past ten months,” the letter began. “I had thought that silence would soon be coming to an end, but I’m afraid I must tell you now that fate has decided on a different course for me.”

Krauthammer, who graduated from Harvard Medical School in 1975 despite a first-year diving accident that left him a quadriplegic, explained that he had a malignant tumor removed from his abdomen last August. Although a series of setbacks left him in  the hospital in the ensuing months, he believed until recently that he was on the road to recovery.

“However, recent tests have revealed that the cancer has returned,” Krauthammer wrote. “There was no sign of it as recently as a month ago, which means it is aggressive and spreading rapidly. 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.”

Fox News viewers will undoubtedly miss Krauthammer’s formidable intellect and ability to analyze politics and politicians with a cerebral wit and keen charm. As the dean of “The Fox News All Stars,” the panel of pundits who break down headlines and events nightly on Fox News Channel’s top-rated “Special Report,” Krauthammer could be counted on to make viewers think, question and even chuckle.

Krauthammer was on his way to greatness in the medical field when he veered first into policy, and then into journalism. After medical school, he became chief psychiatry resident at Massachusetts General Hospital, where he studied depression and published ground-breaking findings in top medical journals. But in 1978, he took a job in the Carter administration directing planning in psychiatric research and later served as a speech writer for Vice President Walter Mondale.

You can read Krauthammer’s poignant goodbye to his readers at The Washington Post, but there are two parts that stand out to me:

In August of last year, I underwent surgery to remove a cancerous tumor in my abdomen. That operation was thought to have been a success, but it caused a cascade of secondary complications — which I have been fighting in hospital ever since. It was a long and hard fight with many setbacks, but I was steadily, if slowly, overcoming each obstacle along the way and gradually making my way back to health.

However, recent tests have revealed that the cancer has returned. There was no sign of it as recently as a month ago, which means it is aggressive and spreading rapidly. 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 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.

Krauthammer was a young medical student at Harvard when a freak diving accident over the summer left him paralyzed, a condition from which he never recovered. Despite that disability, Krauthammer eventually returned to school and graduated, choosing to specialize in psychiatry where he was involved with what became the DSM-III, one of the versions of the diagnostic manual that is now in its fifth version and continues to be used as the standard reference for the psychiatric profession. Eventually, though, Krauthammer made his way to Washington, where he served in the Carter Administration to become involved in developing Federal Government policy in the area of mental health and mental illness. He also served for a time as a speechwriter for Vice-President Walter Mondale, which served as a jumping off point for his second career as a political pundit. Over time, he has written for publications as diverse as The New Republic, Time, and, since 1985, The Washington Post. He also became a frequent political commentator on television on network ranging from PBS to ABC to Fox News Channel, where he was a regular commenter on both their weekday shows and on Fox News Sunday on the weekends. Over time, his ideological views also shifted from the center-left views of the Carter Administration to the more conservative views he became known for in later years. This, of course, is just a brief summary of Krauthammer’s career and accomplishments, a more thorough review can be found at Wikipedia.

There really isn’t much more that can be said except to wish peace and comfort to the man, his family, and his friends.

UPDATE (James Joyner):  I was penning my post simultaneously. There’s very little overlap so I’m appending it in its entirety here:

Charles Krauthammer has written his last column for the Washington Post. 

I have been uncharacteristically silent these past ten months. I had thought that silence would soon be coming to an end, but I’m afraid I must tell you now that fate has decided on a different course for me.

In August of last year, I underwent surgery to remove a cancerous tumor in my abdomen. That operation was thought to have been a success, but it caused a cascade of secondary complications — which I have been fighting in hospital ever since. It was a long and hard fight with many setbacks, but I was steadily, if slowly, overcoming each obstacle along the way and gradually making my way back to health.

However, recent tests have revealed that the cancer has returned. There was no sign of it as recently as a month ago, which means it is aggressive and spreading rapidly. 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 wish to thank my doctors and caregivers, whose efforts have been magnificent. My dear friends, who have given me a lifetime of memories and whose support has sustained me through these difficult months. And all of my partners at The Washington Post, Fox News, and Crown Publishing.

Lastly, I thank my colleagues, my readers, and my viewers, who have made my career possible and given consequence to my life’s work. 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.

Sad news, indeed. While Krauthammer has been a national figure as long as I can remember, he is only 68.

While I was reading his columns—and, certainly, watching him on Fox News—much less frequently these last few years, he was a giant in the field. I still assign his 1990 Unipolar World essay from Foreign Affairs and his 2002 follow-up for The National Interest.

Interestingly, while he came to be thought of as a hard-core right-winger, his transition from psychiatry (MD, Harvard) to politics came as a Democrat. He worked for President Jimmy Carter in his capacity as a mental health professional and then for Vice President Walter Mondale as a speechwriter. His first national writing under his own byline was for The New Republic.  He would win the National Magazine Award and the Pulitzer Prize, among others.

I attended a panel discussion featuring Krauthammer and famed military ethicist Michael Walzer at the Brookings Institution in the run-up to the Iraq War and was able to chat with him briefly afterward. He was somewhat awkward, perhaps because of the accident that left him confined to a wheelchair, but he was warm and, if he minded having to talk to a nobody, it didn’t show.

FILED UNDER: Media, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Franklin says:

    He’s a mixed bag, but his stance on torture does not endear him to me, sorry. That goes beyond mere policy differences.

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  2. However one feels about his political opinions, this is not a fate I’d wish on anyone.

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  3. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    Don’t agree with this man on much…but I wouldn’t wish this on anyone.
    If I believed in god I would hope she’d show him mercy.

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  4. george says:

    I don’t agree with much of what he says, but I admire his perseverance. The man has grit, something I respect in friends and foes alike.

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  5. Barry says:

    @Doug Mataconis: Why not? He’s been a cancer on political discourse in this country for decades.

    He’s been a right-wing hack, supporting decades of sh*t.

    I consider it good riddance to bad rubbish.

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