Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Robert Novak (1931-2009)

By Michael J.W. Stickings

I liked him, back in my conservative youth, and, even later, I suppose I respected him for being, unlike so many of his right-wing colleagues, refreshingly honest. He was what he was and he spoke his mind loudly, forcefully, a reporter who was unabashedly ideological, a pundit who was one of the leading Republican voices of his time, a partisan to the very end. Sure, he was also "The Prince of Darkness" (not to mention a "Douchebag of Liberty") but, compared to the extremist blowhards of today, the Hannitys, O'Reillys, Limbaughs, and Becks of the conservative commentariat, he was independent in his thinking, a towering intellect, in fact, an admirable voice in a crowd of hacks, whether it was on CNN or in his long-running WaPo column. The left-versus-right dynamic that characterized shows like Crossfire, one of his main platforms, is abhorrently stultifying and stupifying, but he certainly made it all more amusing, and, from time to time, more edifying, than it would have been without him.

Robert Novak died today at the age of 78. Washington, and American political discourse generally, just won't be the same without him.

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