Andrew Breitbart, R.I.P.

I’m not going to pretend, now that he has passed on, that I think 43-year-old Andrew Breitbart was some kind of American hero or a great patriot for speaking his mind and for doing the work he did, most of it in service to the reactionary right in America.

I still remember last September when he essentially threatened his political opponents with a “we have the guns” diatribe. He especially went after unions and ended with a threat to Katie Couric:

You know, these union thugs. These public sector union thugs — I’m just waiting — bring it on.

I am sick of it. I am sick of this Trumka guy. I’m sick of this John Sweeney. I’m sick of the SIEU. I’m sick of them going to people’s homes, executives’ homes and showing up and the media not think — you don’t think there’s a problem with that?

Katie Couric. What if we went to Katie Couric’s house? What if the tea party showed up at Katie Couric’s and scared the living crap out of her teenaged kids? And that’s what they do because they know the mainstream media won’t cover it.

And so, there’s just a part of me that wants them to walk over that line.

Unfortunately, that is the Andrew Breitbart that many of us will remember, notwithstanding his sad and premature passing today.

Breitbart served as an editor of the indispensable (for the right-wing) The Drudge Report starting in 1995 where, as Reason magazine put it, he stirred up “the site’s signature mix of scandal, box office returns, wire stories, and political tidbits.”  Matt Drudge wrote today,

In the first decade of the DRUDGEREPORT Andrew Breitbart was a constant source of energy, passion and commitment. We shared a love of headlines, a love of the news, an excitement about what’s happening. I don’t think there was a single day during that time when we did not flash each other or laugh with each other, or challenge each other. I still see him in my mind’s eye in Venice Beach, the sunny day I met him. He was in his mid 20’s. It was all there. He had a wonderful, loving family and we all feel great sadness for them today… 

Breitbart went on from there to help Arianna Huffington create The Huffington Post and then to start his own sites, including Breitbart.com and BigGovernment.com.   As he launched those and other missions, he did so as a direct attack on what he called “the Democratic-media complex,” which he believed did not tell the truth and were “simply running defense for one party.”

He said,

the mainstream media – New York TimesWashington Post, LA Times, CBS, ABC, NBC, MSNBC, and CNN…have repeatedly, and under the guise of objectivity and political neutrality, promoted a blatantly left-of-center, pro-Democratic party agenda.”

His aim was “to offer more aggressive journalism and to give the mainstream media a little dose of its own medicine.”

Breitbart.com’s short memoriam quoted from a newly written conclusion to his book, Righteous Indignation:

I love my job. I love fighting for what I believe in. I love having fun while doing it. I love reporting stories that the Complex refuses to report. I love fighting back, I love finding allies, and—famously—I enjoy making enemies.

Three years ago, I was mostly a behind-the-scenes guy who linked to stuff on a very popular website. I always wondered what it would be like to enter the public realm to fight for what I believe in. I’ve lost friends, perhaps dozens. But I’ve gained hundreds, thousands—who knows?—of allies. At the end of the day, I can look at myself in the mirror, and I sleep very well at night.

“Sleep,” wrote the Christian apologist C.S. Lewis, is “the blind brother of death.”  Let us hope, now that Andrew Breitbart has met sleep’s brother, that his fighting spirit, often admirable and more often misplaced, is now enjoying some kind of peace, whether metaphorical or real.

12 Comments

  1. What a decent, and I mean it, obituary you gave to a man I came to loathe and identify with as symbolic of the over the top nature of todays politics. Hats off to you. I’d like to think he would be as gracious but I doubt it. Keep on trucking on.

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  2. Andrew Breitbart leaves behind one legacy: he was a liar. Read other blog entries Duane. You’re being far too courteous. He was a hack, a propagandist and a liar.

    http://www.readersupportednews.org/news-section2/317-65/10231-breaking-andrew-breitbart-dies

    May god torment his soul.

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    • Victor,

      I’ve thought a lot about your comment.

      Andrew Breitbart represented most of what I have come to dislike about conservatism, having been one myself. And I am as guilty as anyone of getting angry at what people like Breitbart do, which I find not only personally reprehensible but ultimately harmful to the country.

      But I won’t go so far as to say, as you did, “May god torment his soul.” Look, I understand the anger that engenders a comment like that; I have sometimes felt it myself. But, Victor, if we are to claim the high ground against our political opponents, we can’t imitate them. The man is dead and gone and never to return. He left a family behind, a family probably much like yours and mine.

      And I hope, should there be a better world beyond this one, that even Andrew Breitbart can find a place where the yoke of rage under which he often labored can be broken and he can enjoy some peace.

      Duane

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  3. I wonder how his death will affect the film he was working on, the Occupy Unmasked. (from Washington Spectator, which came in the mail today.)

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  4. ansonburlingame

     /  March 1, 2012

    duane,

    I give you credit for aknowledging a “warrior from the other tribe”. Well done and gracious for sure.

    At least the man exercised the courage to follow into the famous “”arena” espoused by Teddy Roosevelt.

    I have never read the man’s works but if I did I would be very likely to respond in great strength to Victor above as well. But why bother?

    Anson

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  5. duane – looks like you and I managed to post without any vitriol, and I therefore consider myself in good company. . I’ll not celebrate a death.

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    • Moe,

      As you mentioned on your blog, he was “only” 43. I thought about how I changed my mind about conservatism when I was about that age and, who knows, had the man lived he might have done the same thing and become a strong anti-conservative voice. At least I like to think so.

      In any case,one cannot exchange vitriolic comments with a dead man, and I don’t want to become what it is that I don’t like. Thus, the lack of anger, even though I am not at all sure he would extend me the same courtesy.

      By the way, you’ve got a winner over there commenting on your post, don’t ya?

      Duane

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      • You mean,, I assume, that ALL CAPITAL LETTERS WITH LOTS OF EXCLAMATION POIINTS!!!! commenter? Amusing for sure.

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  6. Very classy. I feel so sorry for the family – especially his young children who will have to grow up without a father. No one should have to go through that.

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  7. henrygmorgan

     /  March 2, 2012

    ‘Every man’s death diminishes me, for I am a part of mankind. Therefore send not to ask for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.”

    John Donne

    Henry

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