Charles Krauthammer, RIP

We knew today’s news was coming, but it is still a moment that stops you fast. We all had our say here when we heard from Charles two weeks ago, but one other specific recollection came back to me subsequently that is worth mentioning—namely, how very very funny he could be. He had a wry smile that you could only seldom catch on TV.

In one small gathering in San Francisco two years ago, I asked him what costume he might wear if he went trick or treating. His answer, accompanied by a huge, mischievous grin: “I’d like to dress up as one of those creepy clowns. . . and show up at Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s front door!”

I was his host and interlocutor that evening at the annual dinner for the Pacific Research Institute, and I managed to peek at his notes for his half-hour plus opening talk. This was his entire manuscript for the whole thing—this is all he needed:

In introducing him that evening, I said the following:

Charles Krauthammer’s complete biography, both literary and personal, is extraordinary, but also very long, and that’s what the Internet is for.  So I will move quickly to the main event with a single observation drawn from one of his articles included in his new collection, “Things That Matter.”

It is from his fine essay about Winston Churchill.

These two men have many things in common.  Both have a wit as dry as a properly-made martini.  They both exhibit an unparalleled intellectual capaciousness, enabling a supremely wide range in their writing.  Both men dictate their prose.

Charles may think my comparison of him to the great statesman is extravagant, but I do not think so, for this simple reason: Charles rightly refers to Churchill in his essay as “the indispensible man.”  Well, for those of us trying to make sense of what is happening in our country right now, Charles is our indispensible man.

I’m going to miss our indispensable man.