I'm trying to write and trying to think, but I can't. I just listened again to the first interview radio I did with Andrew Breitbart. It’s weird to hear yourself interview a friend. It’s harder to say goodbye to one.
In one sense, that interview seems like yesterday. In another, yesterday seems like forever ago. I'm still in shock. The disbelief is fading, but part of me won't let go of the hope that he'll pop up on Twitter with a big "I was just kidding.”
He can't, of course, but a gut-punch like this, that you don’t see coming, is never easy to take. It's not so much the jolt of the hit that gets you, it's the waves of pain and disbelief after. I'm stuck somewhere in one of those ripples.
Christopher Hitchens had been ill for a while, and you could see it coming. This was out of the blue.
I first met Andrew 4 or 5 years ago while taking pictures of people in a Snuggie. I knew he was in town, he was coming to my office the next day, but springing a Snuggie on him there seemed less than professional.
I’d been told he was stopping by a happy hour at bar on Capitol Hill, so I set off to find him there.
I spotted his hair first. I’d only ever seen a picture of him, the small one he used on Big Hollywood (the only “Big” site that existed at the time), but I’d heard about him from our many mutual friends, so I knew what to look for. I introduced myself to him in a room full of clean-cut, suited conservatives, my hair longer than his, and he made a reference to an obscure 80s musician (that I can’t remember) that my hair reminded him of.
Within 3 minutes he was wearing the Snuggie and posing for pictures.
I remember thinking that Andrew was different than just about every other conservative in Washington. Aside from politics and his family, Andrew loved music. Specifically, he loved “all British 80s (music), 34.7% gay, alt-Brit rock,” as he once jokingly told me on air. The percentage would change every time we’d talk about music, but the sentiment was always there.
The man was an encyclopedia of 80s music trivia. Not hair bands or bad metal bands, but the ones a few of us liked in high school and were ridiculed for, only to find those doing the ridiculing claiming to have always loved years later.
I could tell Andrew was not one of those guys who would say he always loved The Smiths but had a secret stash of well-worn Bon Jovi concert t-shirts tucked away in the bottom of a shame drawer somewhere hoping no one would discover the awful truth. He was real. By the way, he hated grunge (sorry Nirvana fans).
Many will write about his politics and his public (heroic) actions and battles. I will always remember those as well, and admire them for eternity, but more than that, I will remember my friend.
About a week before his book, Righteous Indignation, was released, I emailed him and asked for an advance copy so I could have it when I interviewed him following the release. A few days later it showed up in the mail.
I have dyslexia, I hate reading. I particularly hate reading dry, political books. It’s much more difficult to keep my eyes in check when the brain checks out on the subject matter, even when it’s interesting, if it’s poorly presented.
I sat down when it was dark, I stood up when it was light. Cover to cover I read his book.
I sent Andrew an email, not yet having slept, letting him know he’d written the only book I’ve cover-to-covered ever and congratulated him. He called me almost before I could hit the send button. He asked question, what I thought of this part, that bit, and so on.
He was so proud of that book and so excited for the world to read it. It was part autobiography, part history and part manifesto, but all Andrew. Those of you lucky enough to have met him, knew him, no matter how briefly you spoke. He was always himself, and always all of himself. Those of you who didn’t have the honor to meet him, read his masterwork and you will hear his voice, and know the man he was.
There are others who will eulogize him better than I can. I just wanted to convey a couple of personal stories you won’t read elsewhere to give you a different glimpse into the man we lost.
I will never forget Andrew. He had a great laugh, and loved to use it. And that crazy hair of varying lengths and his seeming dislike of shaving. The only time I’d ever seen him clean-shaven was when he crashed Anthony Weiner’s resignation press conference. I remember first thinking, “Dude, Andrew shaved” and THEN thinking, “Holy crap, he’s crashed the press conference!” He was the only man in the conservative movement I could stand with and look almost “put together” next to.
Almost. Because Andrew always had a sophistication of thought about him that escapes most people. He was playing chess while others played checkers. Picking his brain on strategy was an education, him picking yours was exhausting. No one asked more questions, no one sought more answers.
We, as a species, spend a lot of time trying to avoid death, trying to cheat the inevitable, often times at the expense of living. No one packed more life into any given 24 hour period than Andrew did. He lived 1000 years in his 43, but it simply wasn’t enough.
People have been asking, “Who is going to replace Andrew?” and “What do we do now?” The simple answers are this – There will never be another Andrew Breitbart, just as there wasn’t one before him. We all knew the way, Andrew showed us the how.
He wasn’t afraid of fight, didn’t care if he was liked, he wanted to be right. We have far too many on our side who are interested in being liked, being invited back on various TV “news” networks and to cocktail parties. Not Andrew. The stakes are too high to make nice with someone who lies while compromising our nation’s future. This country is too great a force for good, our Constitution too important a guardian of our liberty, to stand by while it’s trampled under the guise of a perverted vision of “progress.”
Who will replace Andrew Breitbart? No one, and everyone.
How many people have started blogs because of him? Started attending townhall meetings with Members of Congress because of him? Started filming their professors because of him? Started questioning the corrupt media because of him? Started speaking out against attacks on our way of life because of him? To go silent now is unthinkable.
Andrew won many battles, but the war rages on. No one man was going to win it, the loss of no one man will lose it.
Mourn the loss of our friend, but honor his memory by picking up a piece of the fight. He wasn’t going to be able to win it alone, now, as always, it’s up to us to win it together.
Thank you for your inspiration, Andrew Breitbart. Thank you for your example. I will miss you, I will miss your friendship. And I will fight on, WE will fight on, in your honor, for our country, just as I know you would have wanted.