The Curious Case of Charles Krauthammer Incites Debate

Seth McBride’s news analysis on “The Curious Case of Charles Krauthammer” (August 2018) sparked a lively and thoughtful discussion with passionate arguments on all sides. Here are some of the responses.

Thanks for the Full Picture
This was a great story, and I’m glad I learned the full picture of Charles Krauthammer’s life. I always liked him and I sensed a certain dignity and clarity in his mind, although I didn’t always agree with his ideas; now I like him a lot more and I find his example to be quite inspiring for me. I agree with Krauthammer about not wanting a disability to define my life experience or other people’s perception of me. The only thing I would criticize him for is not supporting universal health care and the expansion of disability insurance. I would say that Krauthammer was either elitist because of his wealthy background or he was somewhat a victim of his own persona and his own fear of letting other people see him as being in a wheelchair. Conservatism and self-reliance can be great human values — but human beings are also interdependent and having good health insurance can make a tremendous difference in one’s quality of life. Krauthammer had to toe a certain Republican conservative line, yet he must have known that, had he come from less fortunate circumstances, he would not have had the support he needed to ultimately achieve the kind of success he enjoyed.
James Ainsworth

Cheap Shots
I found the article about Charles Krauthammer to be inaccurate and offensive — that if somebody well-known doesn’t choose to beat the drum of disability issues, they are wrong. Charles lived the life he wanted to live and did not hide from being disabled, but he refused to let that fact define who he was. I posted on the blog under the article as myself:

“Charles did not want to lean on being disabled but rather on his intellect and skills as an author and commentator. He talked in front of many crowds and did not “hide” his disability. His chair was very visible. I knew he was in a chair in 1975 and admired how he led his life. He began as a Democrat and gradually became disenchanted with the party. He called the issues as he saw them. He spent his last 240 days with us at Shepherd Center, and I had the privilege of speaking with him several times a week. I found the tone and tenor of this article way off base. Cheap shots.”
James Shepherd
Atlanta, Georgia

Bravo! A wonderfully written and balanced story.
Bob Samuels

How dare you? Whatever gave you the right or authority to attack a man of Charles Krauthammer’s repute and success? How much he chose to publicly discuss his quadriplegia was his business and his business alone. You cowardly waited until after his death to attack him. You could not have survived the response he would have delivered.
George Rector
Clermont, Florida

His True Legacy
Lest we forget there was, several years ago, a special program on Fox News about Krauthammer, the man, and that included an interview while he was driving his van. It talked about his past, including the accident and disability. For this Fox News special 30 or 60-minute program, he did not try to hide his disability. It is, in my opinion, a shame that this article ends on such a negative note about what he could have accomplished. Furthermore, I suggest that had he been a crusader for the disabled, he might very well have been taken less seriously as a news commentator. And this was his true legacy.
Daniel Kovnat
Braintree, Massachusetts

Sign of the Times
The comments here are fascinating and some deeply ableist. While it was impossible to hide his disability, Krauthammer sure did go out of his way to make it as least visible as humanly possible. And despite great privilege, he did absolutely nothing to advance disability rights. I am not sure how he justified this in his mind given the grim statistics associated with disability and poverty, unemployment, lack of housing and transportation, etc. Regardless, bravo to McBride who has sparked some heated words — a reflection of current social division fostered by the GOP and Trump.
Bill Peace

Worth Saluting
Krauthammer wanted to be recognized for his mind and intellect rather than his clearly dysfunctional body. Anyone who has lived with a similar disability for any length of time knows how difficult a goal that is. We are immediately judged based on how we look, and usually unsaid, that judgment is negative. We are considered “lesser-than,” and it is an uphill battle to overcome those perceptions. It can be done, at least to some extent, and Krauthammer is proof of that. It is all too easy to play the pitiable victim role; he chose not to, and I salute him for that.
Pete Smith

Parent Problems
It’s not easy being a disabled parent! (“Explaining Disability to Our Kids,” August 2018) My son was 4 when I got my spinal cord injury. Once after, he told me, “All my birthday wishes are me wishing you to walk again, Mommy.” Then once I had the ambulance come and pick me up because I fell, and he told me, “Hopefully they can fix you, Mommy.” The hardest thing I had to do was to look into his eyes when he was 7 to break his heart and tell him, “I am never going to walk, and just because I go in an ambulance doesn’t mean they can fix me. I am very lucky I am still here. Things could have been worse for me, I could have died, but I did not. I am so happy to be here with you today!” He still hopes and wishes me to walk like before my SCI, but he knows it won’t happen. I have big challenges, but with his love by my side, I can do anything for him!
Patty Paul

Great Solution
Wonderful article (“Year One of the Ewan Experience,” August 2018). I have got to get one of those Bumbo seats and rig it up to my power wheelchair to haul around my upcoming nephew. This would be a lot easier than just hooking him into my seat belt or using a baby carrier.
Jessie Gray

Costco’s Condescension
I think the “free pass for crips” is similar to the age thing (“The Costco Social Experiment, Ervin, August 2018). I get more damn overly-solicitous attention from clerks and card checkers now that I’m 81. What bugs me even more are the “honeys” and “darlings” that suggest I’m “cute” and not to be taken seriously. It always makes me want to respond with “f— you.”
Rosemary Molloy

Ervin Love
The articles written by Mike Ervin bring me to tears with uncontrollable laughter. His writing style, with his sense of cynicism and not taking his disability too seriously, is a great read — and his approach to his articles is something I keep in mind as I go through my day.
Stephen C. Grams
St. Peter, Minnesota

The Sad Truth
So many of us have had our lives mangled by what we do to receive our care (“Jason DaSilva’s ‘The Disability Trap’ Is Beautiful and Infuriating,” Blog, Aug. 20). So many of us couldn’t work for more than nine months without losing community personal attendant services, so it thwarted our careers and kept us in poverty. I am looking forward, sadly, to watching this video. The nursing home industry exploits us and takes away our freedom by paying off our politicians.
Nancy Becker Kennedy

A Better Way to Comment
Is there any way to comment on a story online without having a Facebook account? If not, that’s really disappointing.
Katja Stokley

Editor: There is a link at the top of every article on that allows you to send a letter to the editor.

On page 24 of Seth McBride’s August article, “Year One of the Ewan Experience,” the practical tip should read: “If you have adjustable center of gravity, move your axle backward to remove some tippiness from your chair before your baby gets strong enough to really wriggle and kick.”