Why? That question has dogged human existence for all of time. We’re the only creatures who can ask it and the only ones who spend a lot of time wondering about it.
It’s not just, “Why are we here and what does it mean?” It’s also the far more complicated “Why do bad things happen to good people?”
The answer, “It’s all part of God’s plan,” gives those who believe some semblance of a reason. It beats “stuff happens.” But only slightly.
Such is the case with one of my closest friends, Mike Flynn.
Mike passed away far too soon Thursday afternoon of a heart attack. He wasn’t even 50.
A father, a husband, a patriot, Mike was tapped by Andrew Breitbart, whom he’d been close to for years before Andrew had a website with his name on it, to be editor in chief of Big Government. With Big Government’s launch, Mike was pulled from the trenches of the conservative fight into the spotlight and had a hand in every story, and every victory, Andrew amassed during his own too-short life.
The loss of Flynn to the cause of the Constitution and limited government will ripple for a long time.
I first met Flynn at various happy hours around DC in the early 2000s. I was a smoker then, and broke. Happy hours at various organizations were great because they offered free food and booze, neither of which I could afford, and you could meet great people. I’d see Mike when I went out for a smoke, and we’d shoot the breeze the way strangers did when the alternative was awkward silence and pretending the other person didn’t exist.
In 2007, I started working at Americans for Tax Reform handling, among other things, tech policy. Although important, net neutrality and set-top boxes make for boring presentations and studies…and there are a lot of presentations and studies on those and other tech issues. But also at those events, usually lunches, was Mike Flynn.
He worked for the Reason Foundation at the time, and we’d always sit next to each other, in the back, so we could crack jokes to one another. From there, we started hanging out and became friends.
Flynn had been around and worked in all aspects of the movement for a long time. He was older and a lot smarter than me, but he never let on. When I’d suggest something which turned out to be rather dumb, he’d bust my chops like he should, then he’d explain what was right.
But mostly Mike Flynn was fun.
There wasn’t a party we didn’t attend at the 2008 GOP convention. The ones we weren’t invited to we crashed, laughing all the way. From then on we were tight.
When I left ATR to help start the Daily Caller, Flynn was there. I was the first person hired, followed quickly by four others. We had an office in Dupont Circle, desks, wifi…and no website. As the building process went on, taking longer than expected, Flynn would swing by to hang out, have some drinks and use the wifi (which wasn’t everywhere then).
He told me he’d been hired by Andrew Breitbart to run his new website, Big Government. At that time Andrew had only Big Hollywood and Breitbart TV, but Big Government was coming and they had something big planned for their launch. That’s when I first heard of the ACORN videos and the plan he and Andrew had hatched for their release.
I would have screwed it up, I didn’t understand how media worked. Andrew and Flynn did; they knew how ACRON would react to each installment and were ready for it. They destroyed that corrupt organization despite all the obstruction and obfuscation the Democrats and media could manage. They forced that story into the headlines. It was brilliant.
Flynn also was instrumental in my career. One day while I was sitting in those offices scrambling to pull together contributors for the Daily Caller, he told me about the new website he’d be running in a few months and said, “I want you to write for me.”
To that point I’d written op-eds only on the issue areas I’d worked in. What he saw in me, I don’t know. We’d only ever talked and emailed, but three days after Big Government launched, Flynn published my first piece on whatever I had to say.
Writing there helped lead to Townhall to reach out to me, so he’s responsible for my having written here since June 2011. He helped anyone who asked and many who didn’t. Mike Flynn is responsible for a great many conservative victories in the last decade, you just didn’t know it.
But mostly, Mike Flynn was my friend.
I knew his wife, Holly, before Flynn met her. I’d met her at a launch party for some magazine I can only imagine has since folded when I stepped out for a cigarette and held the door for a woman walking in as I was walking out. The woman said nothing as I scrambled out of her way to hold open the door. I said, “You’re welcome.” The woman groused, but Holly laughed. I should have known at that moment she and Flynn would be a perfect match.
They and their children lived in Virginia and were the type of couple people aspire to be. Many of us lost a friend; she lost her love. We’re all left to wonder why.
There is no answer; there is nothing to understand. “It’s God’s plan” rings hollow in times like this. A friend is gone, another is a widow. A father is gone. A warrior for liberty is gone.
Mike Flynn was a warrior for liberty, a happy warrior. He wasn’t a spectator; he ran for Congress last year (I wrote about it here). That’s who he was: a doer, in the light and behind the scenes.
The nation is a better place for him having lived, and I am a better person for having known him.
If you want to know more about Flynn, in the words of his wife, and are so inclined to help his family in this awful time, please click here.