By Rick Morris
The news today of the passing of Andrew Breitbart is truly shocking. Few have ever personified the cliché about being a force of nature like he did and for that reason, you can’t imagine his voice being silenced (more about that later).
My extremely saddened reaction to his passing today took me a bit by surprise. Sure, I feel terrible for his wife, kids, other family and friends, but it went deeper than that. Sure, I’m pretty envious of anyone who had the pleasure of knowing him or even getting to have a beer with him. That must have been a blast. But again, it went deeper than that.
My surprise stems from the fact that I have felt alienated from the conservative movement in recent years as it completely sold out to George W. Bush’s principle-free governance and subsequently in the Age of Obama defined itself purely as an anti-left movement rather than the engine of positive ideas that it was in my Reagan-era youth. And frankly, who personified the anti-left sentiment more than Breitbart?
But I subsequently realized that the reason that I feel the same sadness today as those who are a part of what remains of the conservative movement is the fact that I realize that he had a part to play and he played it perfectly. Sure, I wish that the movement had the counterbalance of earnest individuals pushing sound public policy. But that’s not Andrew Breitbart’s fault.
He put his heart and his soul into working for the greater good of this country. Granted, that was expressed by swinging a wrecking ball into destructive institutions, but sometimes that’s the most effective service you can provide. And while I won’t sit here and say I’d give a blank check to how he handled every single situation – Shirley Sherrod comes to mind, as does GOProud – I’ll delve into another cliché and say that you can’t make an omelet if you don’t break a few eggs. Some of the broken eggshells were unfortunate, but his omelets were delicious. I’m not a big Jonah Goldberg guy, but his description of Breitbart as “revolutionary” was spot-on.
And that takes us back to the part about his voice being silenced. His personal voice is, and again, I mourn for his family and his friends. I know firsthand how long it can take to derive any comfort from the reality that he is in a better place. But the voice of his persona, the voice of a revolutionary? It lives on, in all of us who admired him, in the activists who aspired previously to join his battles and are now motivated to carry them on – and in the activists not yet of the age of political awareness or perhaps not even born. For all those who opposed him so strenuously in life and those who have gloated at his passing from the scene, ponder that. This is the easiest case I have ever seen in which to proclaim that the voice lives on after the man himself has passed. RIP Mr. Breitbart, I’ll look forward to having that beer with you on the other side.
Here he is, in his last big appearance at the 2012 CPAC conference, at the height of his powers to the very end.