They say you are defined in life not by the things that go well, but by the things that do not.
The things you didn’t see coming.
For Charles Krauthammer, it was a diving accident.
He was a 22-year-old Harvard medical school student, and he told my colleague Bret Baier that he knew the very moment his head hit the bottom of the pool, he was paralyzed for life.
By now, you know this story. So many stories. Told by so many who knew Charles far better than me.
And worked with Charles far longer than me.
I can’t speak for their memories, but allow me now to speak for mine.
Fewer, but just as powerful. Not as personal, but for me, very personal.
You see, when it came to Charles, I wasn’t just a viewer. I have to admit I was a voyeur.
That’s what we in this industry do. We watch others who do what we do, especially those who are really good at what we do or should do.
Charles was really good at what he did. But what amazed me was how he did it.
I marveled at his manner.
But more, I marveled at his manners.
He never screamed.
He never yelled.
He never impugned the integrity of anyone, yet he won the respect of everyone.
No zingers for the other side. Just a zeal that impressed both sides.
He was thoughtful. And measured. Respectful and kind.
He got your attention because he got life.
Maybe because he got the fragility of life in a way most conservatives could not and cannot.
And most liberals insist they are but are not.
That was the Charles Krauthammer I knew.
And that was good enough for me. That was inspiring enough for me.
That it was possible to make a point without morphing into a shout-fest that turned pointless.
That was his secret. He had no secrets. That was his game. He played no games.
Everyone’s been saying, what you saw is what you got with Charles.
A man who had been through so much, but you wouldn’t know it unless you asked.
And he wouldn’t tell you much, even if you pushed.
It’s how he handled the things that went well, just like the things that did not.
He was just dealing with the cards he was dealt.
And that’s all you needed to know. So just deal.
The man who refused to be defined by the legs he couldn’t use, but the remarkable brain he could and did.
Brit Hume said Charles was an unlikely media mega-star.
I think it’s his un-likeliness that made him a media mega star.
He spoke volumes, sometimes without speaking much at all.
The quiet man at the table, who ruled that table.
And now, like you, all I can focus on is the empty space at that table.
And the silence is deafening.
Goodbye, my friend.