The George Patton of right-wing bloggers

Rarely have been there been such strong reactions to the work of a commentator as after the death of Andrew Breitbart last week.

Breitbart worked for the Drudge Report, then helped start the Huffington Post before starting his own media empire, which included Big Government, Big Hollywood, Big Journalism, Big Peace and Breitbart TV. The latter was in Madison chronicling stupid liberal protesters (but I repeat myself) last week. Which makes sense, because Breitbart was in Madison last year:

The first thought that comes to mind is that when you reach your 40s, you don’t like it when someone younger than you dies.

Who was Breitbart? Kurt Schlichter worked for him:

Andrew was without pretension – he really didn’t care who you were. He just wanted to lead other conservatives into the fight. This is a guy who mingled with titans like Rush Limbaugh, but just as easily with people none of us have ever heard of – yet. …

Those who knew him would laugh at the hatemongers who called him “racist” or “homophobe” – things that were the very opposite of who he was and what he believed. There is a great difference between Andrew and the people who despised him. He was angry because people failed to live up to basic standards of decency; the haters hated because he defied them.

For different reasons, Andrew’s friends and his enemies are both testaments to his character. …

Our movement lost a visionary and a leader, a guy who could see the challenge but inspire others to fight beside him. There will never be another conservative warrior like Andrew, but thanks to him, there will many, many more conservative warriors.

National Review’s Jonah Goldberg had one of the best tributes:

If you don’t know who Breitbart was, you haven’t been paying attention. A conservative activist, entrepreneur, author, muckraker, media pioneer, and performance artist of sorts, in his heart he was a radical.

His friends saw him as a fearless truth-teller and provocateur. (The word “fearless” will have to be retired from overuse when all of his obituaries have been written.) His enemies, and they are legion even in death, saw him as the most vile creature who ever slithered upon the earth. …

Andrew relished such attacks, truly, because they proved to him that he was having great effect in his work and that his opponents had run out of serious arguments. …

This is not to say that Andrew was beyond criticism. He made mistakes. He took full swings at some pitches he should have just let go. He overstated some things that needed to be said, and said some things that didn’t need to be said at all. He was a human run-on sentence who showed deference to no punctuation mark save the exclamation point, a conservative Tasmanian Devil from the Bugs Bunny cartoons we both grew up on, whirling and whizzing through anything in his path. Giving him a dose of Ritalin to treat his hyperactivity would be like throwing a glass of water on a five-alarm fire.

Andrew had profound contempt for those on the left who claimed a birthright to a monopoly on virtue and tolerance. …

He rejected in the marrow of his bones the idea that conservatives needed to apologize for being conservative or that liberals had any special authority to pronounce on the political decency and honesty of others.

Indeed, when liberals called him (or his heroes) racist, Andrew paid them the compliment of taking them seriously. He truly felt that to call someone a racist was as profound an insult as could be leveled. To do so without evidence or logic was a sin.

He believed, rightly, that much of establishment liberalism hurls such charges as a way to bully opponents into silence, and he would not be bullied. That was why, for instance, he offered a reward of $100,000 (payable to the United Negro College Fund) to anybody who could prove tea partiers hurled racial epithets over and over at black congressmen walking past them to vote on Obamacare, as several alleged. No one got paid because the charge — recycled over and over by the media — was a lie.

The Internet was a boon to Andrew because it exposed liberalism’s undeserved monopoly on the “narrative” — one of his favorite words.

60 Minutes won awards for hidden cameras, but when he used the same technique to embarrass liberals, such tactics were suddenly proclaimed ethically beyond the pale. The joke was on the scolds because they had to cover the stories anyway. And the stories got results. Congress defunded ACORN. Heads rolled at NPR. Andrew understood that news and arguments change politics if you can get the news and arguments to the people — and if you don’t let those who don’t like what you say define you.

Iowahawk also knew Breitbart:

He left an electronic media legacy that will be hard to top, having helped launch the Drudge Report, the HuffingtonPost,, and his collection of “Big” sites. He was an unapologetic conservative, but one who defied the media’s template; pro-civil rights, pro-drug legalization, pro-gay rights, to the point of boycotting CPAC when it barred the gay conservative group GOProud. Other than his mainstream pro-life views (he was, after all, adopted) you would be hard pressed to characterize him as a right winger on social issues.

So how did this socially liberal Jewish RINO from Brentwood become the Emmanuel Goldstein of the left’s unhinged 2-Minutes Hate? A lot of it, I suspect, is a viral strain of mindless repetition. I have appalled a few nice progressive friends by revealing my friendship with Breitbart. They know good people, like me, are supposed to despise him, but pressed can’t quite articulate why. Or cite his reported support for slavery and gay concentration camps or somesuch. Its most concentrated form takes place in the anonymity of comment threads and Twitter feeds. My personal favorite is the frequent taunting of Breitbart as gay, where the taunter either (a) assumes Breitbart considers it an insult, or (b) actually means it as an insult.

Breitbart, of course, reveled in it, and took great delight in retweeting and exposing that hate, the real source of which is clear: unlike meek approval-seeking chickenshits like me, he relished poking at hornets’ nests, lifting up rocks, calling out the bullies on the playground. He made himself an enemy of corrupt political con artists who operate on latent threats of thuggery, called them out on it, and, best of all, knew exactly how they would react before they did. He deserved a Pulitzer, but got something better: their opprobrium.

Doug Giles provides high praise for personal reasons:

I initially met Andrew Breitbart over the phone when I called him on September 8, 2009. That was the day before my daughter Hannah’s scandalous ACORN videos were released on the public’s head.

Andrew was on the road, and I was in Vail about to speak at a men’s conference and wanted to know, from a man I didn’t know, if he was going to make certain my girl would be “safe” in every sense of the word because the ACORNs were fixin’ to hit the fan.

Having seen several of Hannah’s devastating undercover vids and knowing the weight of what was about to land on my 20-year-old, I told Andrew that if he allowed anything bad to happen to Hannah that I would hurt him. And I did not mean that metaphorically.

Breitbart said he would defend Hannah with his life and treat her as if she were his own daughter. I thought, “good answer,” and with that we began a relationship and went through a tornadic, grueling, and thrilling war against a corrupt organization and a crooked media that covers and defends such sleaze.

Every step of the way, through vicious, non-stop media attacks, death threats to our family, and multiple lawsuits, Breitbart kept his word to me and ran interference for Hannah and the ACORN story like a champion. He made certain that the proper people got crushed and the truth tellers remained afloat. …

Here’s my takeaway from a man I didn’t seek to meet but am sure glad I did:

  1. As stated, Breitbart kept his word and stayed in the volatile fray with Hannah just like he promised. Few people keep their word nowadays.
  2. To Andrew, crap was crap no matter how one framed it. Andrew was an equal opportunity offender. Everything smells, so attitude sells.
  3. Breitbart was bold. Would to God more men who love God and country had his moxie. AB was a provocateur par excellence.
  4. He inspired young people who are sick of lies, hype and spin to take their talent and tools and use them against the tools of the machine.
  5. Andrew understood the importance of conservatives getting involved in Hollywood and not just in DC.
  6. Breitbart, by example, showed us all that if you aren’t drawing enemy fire then you’re not over the target.
  7. If you didn’t agree with Andrew on all the issues, he was okay with that and reveled in robust discussions over cold beer.

Breitbart also gets credit for taking down U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner (D–New York) after this bizarre press conference:

The Wall Street Journal’s James Taranto has quite the description of Breitbart:

Like [Saul] Alinsky, Breitbart employed unorthodox and sometimes unethical tactics to expose the corruption of the powerful. His targets were generally representatives of what he called, in an 2009 interview with this columnist, “the Democrat-media complex”: politicians (most notably ex-Rep. Anthony Weiner), journalistic organizations (NPR) and left-liberal advocacy groups (Acorn, the NAACP, Common Cause). Also like Alinsky, he was modest about what he could accomplish: “I’m not looking to slay the dragon,” he told us in 2009, “but I wanted to embarrass the dragon into being a more reasonable dragon.”

One key to understanding Breitbart’s effectiveness is Alinsky’s fourth rule: “Make the enemy live up to their own book of rules.” He demonstrated tolerance for bigotry at NPR and the NAACP, for violent partisan rhetoric at Common Cause, and for exploitation of the poor at Acorn. And he exposed Weiner, the sanctimonious male feminist, as a concupiscent con artist.

One key to understanding Breitbart’s effectiveness is Alinsky’s fourth rule: “Make the enemy live up to their own book of rules.” He demonstrated tolerance for bigotry at NPR and the NAACP, for violent partisan rhetoric at Common Cause, and for exploitation of the poor at Acorn. And he exposed Weiner, the sanctimonious male feminist, as a concupiscent con artist.

Breitbart’s foes typically responded in one of two ways, both ineffective: by faulting his ethics or by raging impotently against him. The first came closest to being effective with his 2010 exposé of the NAACP, which was based on a tendentiously edited video of Shirley Sherrod, then a U.S. Department of Agriculture official, confessing at an NAACP dinner to having harbored antiwhite sentiments. (Sherrod has since sued Breitbart for defamation.)

The episode occasioned a back-and-forth between this columnist and David Frum, a writer who seems to aspire to be a sort of court conservative to the liberal elite. We faulted Frum for describing Breitbart as “the conservative Dan Rather.” …

But the main reason Frum’s comparison was silly was that Rather’s act reflected a corruption of authority. By contrast, as we wrote, Breitbart “has no authority, only the inexpensive integrity of a rascal who is honest about what he is.”

The Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza:

Andrew Breitbart loved political combat.

Based in the liberal enclave of Los Angeles, Breitbart viewed himself as a one-man conservative gang and he took to the task of delivering rhetorical body blows — primarily via the web but also through television appearances — with a gusto rarely seen even in these hyperpartisan times. …

His untimely passing raises a fascinating question about our modern world: What did Andrew Breitbart mean to politics?

That may be among the most loaded questions in the political world due to Breitbart’s divisive — and proud of it — personality. ,,,

The legacy that Breitbart leaves on the political world is a mixed one. He was, without question a pioneering force in the rapidly-growing field aggregation of political news — both during his time at Drudge and HuffPo. …

And, Breitbart also understood before many others that the world of politics — and the way in which it was covered — was rapidly transforming itself into a form of entertainment for the public. The fusion of celebrity and politician — best epitomized by former Alaska governor Sarah Palin — was something that Breitbart (and Drudge) grasped longed before much of the mainstream media.

At the same time, Breitbart’s methods walked a fine line between envelope pushing and downright scurrilous at times. The Sherrod incident raised questions about whether Breitbart was a journalist with a conservative bent or simply someone willing to do whatever it took to bring down Democrats.

For those who preached the need to elevate the public dialogue about politics, Breitbart was enemy number one — a symbol of the small and petty nature of the world in which politicians were forced to reside. …

If you loved him, you really loved him. And if you hated him, well you really hated him. Having met Breitbart on a few occasions and corresponded with him infrequently over the years, I can’t imagine he would want it any other way.

Some of Breitbart’s opponents showed some class — Touré on

When he was here, I thought of him as a dangerous though barely effectual ideological comedian/Internet shock jock/wannabe public intellectual. But the moment I realized he was gone, he transformed in my mind into nothing less than a committed soldier for his side, by which I mean both conservatism and the family for whom he so ably provided. That is not hypocritical; it’s human. Death should temper how we think of people or at least how we speak of them. It’s inhuman to celebrate the death of an enemy unless they were engaged in trying to kill you or succeeding at oppressing you. Breitbart was not nearly that powerful. We gain nothing and our spirit loses in hating him now that his body is in the ground.

As for the others … well, National Review’s Jim Geraghty describes them:

You probably heard Matt Yglesias’s first response on Twitter: ”Conventions around dead people are ridiculous. The world outlook is slightly improved with@AndrewBrietbart dead.”

I don’t usually suggest physical violence toward others. That’s certainly not the way I want to see myself or the kind of example I want to set for my sons. But, if you’re going to say things like that — just an hour after word arrives that a man suddenly died, leaving his wife a widow and his children fatherless — I don’t think you should be terribly shocked that some folks will want to register their disapproval over the bridge of your nose. And you’ll have it coming. …

I had observed, yesterday, that there were not merely a handful of folks on the left sneering about how happy they were that Breitbart had suddenly died. There were gobs and gobs of them, all over Twitter and the web at large. If you need examples, Charlie Spiering collected plenty here, though I’d urge most of sound mind to avoid putting themselves through reading that.

You can call this whatever you like — the Daily-Kos-ification of the Left, perhaps — but it confirms what many of us suspected and/or feared. I didn’t want to believe it, really. I personally know too many people I’d identify as Democrats, if not liberals, who are too decent to ever express such raw hate and cruelty. But a large chunk of the rank and file of the Left — way more than a small percentage — really don’t believe that their opponents deserve anything resembling basic human dignity or respect.

We’re not really people to them. It’s not an accident that New York Times columnist referred to his critics on Twitter as “right-wing lice.” They’re not good, decent Americans who just have some different ideas about how to make the world a better place. They run on hate. It appears their entire sense of self-worth is driven by demonizing those who disagree with them and celebrating their political viewpoints as the cardinal measurements of virtue and good character. They are positively energized by the thought of lashing out at those of us who have the audacity to think differently than they. They really do project and accuse the opposition of all their worst traits: rage, closed-mindedness, cruelty, intolerance, bigotry, and an inability to empathize with others. And they completely lack self-awareness. They are blind to the irony of their actions. As someone said on Twitter today (I can’t find the comment now), “How many of the people celebrating Andrew’s death have a ‘NO H8′ icon on their avatar?”

If, in their minds, we’re not deserving of that respect they clamor for endlessly — if their instinct, upon seeing us mourn is to “get in our faces” (a phrase that our president once strangely used) — they really cannot be entrusted with any power. They really would do away with us if given the chance.

Breitbart was the George Patton of the right side of the blogosphere. Patton’s Third Army captured more enemy prisoners and liberated more territory in less time than any army in history. Patton was highly controversial while doing so, with a U.S. letter-writing campaign to get Patton fired after one of his two soldier-slapping incidents. Someone once said that wars are won on the road, and Breitbart would appear on whatever media outlet would have him, even those unsympathetic to conservative points of view.

I think conservatives loved Breitbart not just because he expressed the right ideas, but because he expressed them ferociously and fearlessly, similar to Rush Limbaugh. His goal was not merely to outdebate, but to nuke his opponents. A lot of people like to say they don’t care what others think of them. Not only did he not care, but he didn’t care about the sensibilities of those he offended by blasting them for their wrong ideas or viewpoints.

That last paragraph could also explain the lurching popularity of Republican presidential candidates Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich. But Breitbart was more socially liberal, or libertarian, than Santorum, and from his friends it appears that Breitbart lived his life better (he leaves a wife and four children) than Gingrich. I don’t know if Breitbart ever met Ronald Reagan before Reagan’s Alzheimer’s Disease disabled him in the 1990s, but wouldn’t you have liked to have been a fly on the wall for that conversation?

Breitbart’s death came in the same week as Limbaugh’s making a public apology for comparing the Georgetown University law school student who testified before Congressional Democrats to a slut. Breitbart was in the process of being sued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture official whose speech Breitbart’s website selectively edited. And Breitbart was, shall we say, less than complimentary about Ted Kennedy on the day of Kennedy’s death. (Which someone repeated on Twitter, to which I replied that Breitbart was responsible for one fewer death than Kennedy, which led to an accusation that I was stuck in the ’60s. To quote Taranto, Mary Jo Kopechne was unavailable for comment.) When a commentator goes off the deep end or repeats inaccuracies, he impugns his own credibility and takes attention away from what he’s arguing for or against.

How you feel about Breitbart depends on how important you feel the battle between conservative and liberal values is — if what’s happening now is really a cultural war, or just the latest shifting political winds. You need not think Limbaugh used appropriate language to question why a college affiliated with a church that opposes artificial birth control (because some forms cause what those who believe life begins at conception would consider to be abortion) should be required to provide its students with contraception. You need not believe Breitbart never went too far to believe that this country is moving in the profoundly wrong direction with Barack Obama in the White House and his amen corps in government, the entertainment world and the news media cheering on every move of Obama and his supporters, and using far worse language to describe their opponents. (Look up Bill Maher’s description of Sarah Palin. I’m not going to repeat it.)

We’ve seen that here in Wisconsin with a governor trying to install fiscal discipline in a state that has not known fiscal discipline in decades. And his reward is an attempted coup d’état, which remains the best description of the recall movements of last and this year (possibly the stupidest thing that has happened in Wisconsin politics in the history of this state), along with a politically motivated John Doe investigation. (Not to mention a Madison talk show host who wasn’t exactly complimentary about Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, though he did apologize.) As I’ve said here numerous times, politics is a zero-sum game — one side wins, the other loses — and if a war is taking place between the left and the right, you had better win.

Investors Business Daily said Breitbart …

… became an avid conservative and advocate for America’s constitutional order — which he rightly believed was the one thing that guaranteed our freedom.

The Los Angeles Times described him as a “Hollywood-hating, mainstream-media-loathing conservative.” Well, not really. Breitbart loved Hollywood and its grand traditions. In conversation, he often mentioned how much he respected and loved his father-in-law, the talented comic actor Orson Bean.

What he didn’t like was that Hollywood had been seized by a kind of leftist groupthink that permeated everything from its screenplays to its selection of actors. He hated leftist cant, regarding it as lazy.

As for the mainstream media, he didn’t loathe it so much as get angry at the left-wing, agenda-driven journalism it practiced. Even so, he was a frequent guest on “mainstream” TV and radio, and loved the news.

He was among the first to take the Tea Party seriously, and worked nonstop to advocate its back-to-basics brand of bedrock conservatism. As the huge media flaps over former Rep. Andrew Weiner, Acorn and Shirley Sherrod show, he loved to puncture the powerful and hypocritical — and that included Republicans.

Breitbart should have his own last word:

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 a behind-the-scenes guy who linked to stuff on a 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, sure…. 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 well at night.


Vote for me, and I’ll set you free

The Troglopundit creates AutoMotivators — do-it-yourself versions of the motivational posters that can be found in various stores.

From Monday’s Daytona 500 he created posters for a prominent non-winner …

… as well as the winner:

Gov. Scott Walker, who will survive his future fraudulent recall election:

In memory of conservative blog-fire-starter Andrew Breitbart (more on him next hour):

And finally, after someone expressed his disdain for the current crop of presidential candidates by throwing his hat into the ring:

Presty the DJ for March 5

Today in 1955, Elvis Presley made his TV debut, on “Louisiana Hayride” on KWKH-TV in Shreveport, La.

The number one album today in 1966 was Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass’ “Going Places”:

The number one single today in 1966:

The number one single today in 1983:

The 1992 Rolling Stone Music Awards Best Single and Best Video:

Birthdays begin with Murray Seafield Saint-George Head:

Alan Clark played keyboards for Dire Straits:

Teena Marie:

Andy Gibb:

Craig and Charlie Reed, better known as the Proclaimers:

John Frusciante played guitar for the Red Hot Chili Peppers:

Two deaths of note today in 1963: Patsy Cline and Hawkshaw Hawkins in a plane crash in Dyersburg, Va., on the way to a benefit for a DJ who had died in a car crash.

Two more deaths of note: John Belushi today in 1982 …

… and Viv Stanshall of the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band in 1995: