Andrew Breitbart has died at age 43. What a terrible shock. Although many Americans will contemplate his legacy through a distinctly political lens, let us pause and remember that Andrew was also a husband and the father of four young children. His loss is therefore an intensely personal tragedy, not just a political event. My deepest condolences go out to those who loved him not for what he did, but for who he was.
I had the privilege of getting to know Andrew over the last few years. He was my friend. When we met in Chicago several years ago, Andrew generously invited me to write for his 'Big' sites, which have become invaluable clearing houses for their proprietor's trademark guerilla-style conservatism. I eagerly accepted, and contributed work until I assumed my current position at Townhall. We've shared stages, meals, and more than a drink or two. The man was the life of every party. Snagging a coveted spot at Andrew Breitbart's table was a prized feat, due to his well-earned reputation as a raconteur extraordinaire. He loved regaling people with stories every bit as much as we enjoyed listening to him. He possessed an uncommon zeal for life, which he demonstrated every single day.
Andrew was fearless. A reformed Leftist, he made a conscious decision to devote his life to fighting his former ideological brethren with every ounce of his being -- and never looked back. Throughout his lamentably truncated career as a professional political provocateur, his targets came to loathe him with a rage rarely seen, even in today's polarized climate. As I explained in my introduction of him at last year's CPAC gathering, Andrew had attained near-hero status among many conservatives simply for amassing such an impressive roster of enemies. He targeted Planned Parenthood for their noxious criminality, brought down ACORN over similar transgressions, and last year took out a sitting Congressman, almost single-handedly. Andrew's impromptu hijacking of Rep. Anthony Weiner's New York press conference remains one of the most surreal media events in memory.
He delighted in rattling liberals' cages. He relished attacking their sacred cows. And he never once shied away from a fight. In his CPAC speech just last month, Andrew claimed to have obtained old footage of Barack Obama that could impact the upcoming presidential election. So even in death, Andrew Breitbart will continue to torment the Left -- at least for a few more months. He wouldn't have had it any other way. What a loss. Rest in peace.
Guy Benson is Townhall.com's Political Editor. Follow him on Twitter @guypbenson. He is co-authors with Mary Katharine Ham for their new book End of Discussion: How the Left's Outrage Industry Shuts Down Debate, Manipulates Voters, and Makes America Less Free (and Fun).
Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography