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Editorial: A beautiful mind

Charles Krauthammer’s journey

As most political observers have heard by now, Charles Krauthammer has issued a letter to his friends and fans. As always, his words are crystal clear, without supplement. Call him efficient. His writing has always been Orwellian that way. And we can think of no higher compliment to pay to a writer.

"I have been uncharacteristically silent these past 10 months," Dr. Krauthammer's 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."

Then the news got worse. No doubt you've heard. He's losing a fight against cancer. Weeks to live, doctors say. We can only wish him all the peace he can find.

We are reminded of all the times when Charles Krauthammer said things plain, with the bark off, on these pages. As no other columnist could. Before his illness, the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette ran his essays often. Certainly his column was the best-read thing on the page when it appeared. Always.

The man never had an off day.

We're reminded of the times he wrote about his beloved Washington Nationals. And when the Nationals got good--they've been playoff contenders the last few years--we even wrote to him requesting another column on the team and its future. It says something when columnists are getting requests, like rock stars on stage.

His political skills were--are--unmatched. When the up-and-coming Tea Party went too far to his right in 2010, and began nominating unelectable candidates in primaries, he warned against such extremists. And when the Tea Party didn't listen, he said fine, you've nominated them, now go elect them. And, as he predicted, it wasn't to be.

He wrote the finest pieces from the conservative point of view on health care, gay marriage and gun laws. But, his background being in psychiatry, his most eloquent pieces focused on mental health. After yet another mass shooting in 2012, he wrote:

"Monsters shall always be with us, but in earlier days they did not roam free. As a psychiatrist in Massachusetts in the 1970s, I committed people--often right out of the emergency room--as a danger to themselves or to others. I never did so lightly, but I labored under none of the crushing bureaucratic and legal constraints that make involuntary commitment infinitely more difficult today. Why do you think we have so many homeless? Destitution? Poverty has declined since the 1950s. The majority of those sleeping on grates are mentally ill. In the name of civil liberties, we let them die with their rights on."

Charles Krauthammer was another of the early Never Trump-ers in the conservative movement, along with George Will, Jennifer Rubin, the National Review, the editorial board of the Wall Street Journal, other editorialists we could name ... . But although he thought Donald Trump not qualified for the office, he said impeachment and removal would be a disaster for the country. As he told Fox News, where he regularly appeared:

"As you know, I oppose the Trump candidacy. I don't think he is a very [good] fit for the presidency. But fitness is not a reason for impeachment and removal. High crimes are. Here we have a prosecutor looking for high crimes. With Watergate you started with a crime and tried to find out how it happened. Here they are looking for a crime ... as of yet I haven't heard of one ... .

"So you've got a political establishment, mostly Democrat, but there are some Republicans, who would like to see him taken out of office. I think that would be a catastrophic mistake. It would cause a rupture in the country, where people would say: 'When we people, the ones who've been abandoned, elect somebody we like, our guy gets taken out? I thought we had a stable democracy.'"

Which sums up the views of many conservatives about this populist president--and his hyperventilating opposition.

More often than not, while editing Dr. Krauthammer's columns--they never needed much work--we came across a phrase or two that we wish we'd written. In fact, we were jealous as hell of his ability. That's another high compliment paid to any writer.

This page, and many others, will miss his insight and wit. We wish him peace.

Commentary on 06/09/2018

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