Like many, I was stunned yesterday at the news of mega-conservative publisher and social media giant Andrew Breitbart’s untimely death at the age of 43. I spent most of the day Tweeting and ReTweeting comments from fans/friends and foes alike, many of who (on the fans/friends side) wrote amazing tributes at their websites about their time and interactions with him. Some had only met him briefly, while others had a stronger connection through their mutual interests – mainly, fighting the left and their allies in the mainstream media on the all-important cultural frontlines.
I never met Andrew Breitbart.
Came pretty close a couple of times, last year at CPAC. Once, during lunch in one of the hotel restaurants, and the other while on Blogger’s Row. I wouldn’t have dared disturb him during lunch – he was surrounded, of course, but even if he hadn’t been I wasn’t keen on disturbing a man while he was refueling. When I saw him on Blogger’s Row, he was engaged in lively conversations with many of the bloggers and other new media types who were eager to get in a word or snag a picture with someone who was quickly becoming legendary in conservative circles. I stood back, in observation mode, content to enjoy watching the animations that played across his face as he spoke in that passionate way he always did.
This was the only picture I got of him that day:
Interestingly enough, he was doing in that picture what he was doing the last night of his life: playing on his cell phone in between having a lively conversation with a liberal at a local LA bar hours before his death:
Andrew Breitbart spent his final hours much like he lived most of his life: passionately talking politics.
Breibart, the 43-year-old conservative pundit and provocateur who died suddenly early Thursday while walking near his Los Angeles home, had stopped into The Brentwood, a nearby bar and restaurant. There, he struck up a conversation with Arthur Sando, a marketing executive who didn’t know Breitbart but likely was the last person to talk extensively with him before he died.
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Sando says he arrived at the bar in the tony Brentwood section of L.A. around 10 p.m. and soon the empty seat next to his was filled by a man with a familiar face.
“I tried to figure out how I knew him,” says Sando, a veteran publicity and marketing executive who works for dietary supplement company MonaVie and has worked at CBS, King World Prods and Turner Broadcasting. “He was on his BlackBerry. And I said ‘Andrew?’ I told him I had seen his work.”
Sando says the duo quickly struck up a conversation that would last a little less than two hours.
“He was friendly and engaging,” Sando recalls. “I said, ‘You can’t be very happy with the slate of Republican candidates’ and he said, ‘Why would you say that?’ I said, ‘Well, they’re talking about contraception,’ and he said, ‘The conversation is being framed by the liberal media.’ I said, ‘Well, the media isn’t writing Rick Santorum’s speeches for him.’ We had a back-and-forth for awhile until we said we weren’t going to agree on some things.”
Even though I never met AB, I know of and circulate with many who did know him well and many of them would point out how, in spite of his visceral disgust and distaste for the way the liberals and the MSM almost always set the narrative on any given issue of national import, he would never hesitate to engage with the left directly – whether it be to loudly point out their hypocrisy directly to their faces or to have spirited, respectful one on one debates with those who wanted to get to know the man beyond the public persona as portrayed by his many detractors. Breitbart, like many of us, was a former liberal. He knew all their arguments – and he also knew how to soundly refute every one of them. When he had his opportunities, he would try to get people to see the light – just like he eventually did. I suspect he knew, like I did all those years ago when I “saw the light”, that it’s one of the most liberating experiences you’ll ever have.
The thing that always struck me about Andrew Breitbart whenever I saw him, read about him, watched him on TV, read what he had to say at his “Bigs” sites and on Twitter, was that he was absolutely fearless. And when I say absolutely that’s exactly what I mean. You didn’t have to get up close and personal to Breitbart to know this. He was someone who, unlike so many in our movement, never lost sight of the big picture, always knew exactly who and what he should be focusing on: the mainstream media and liberal public figures who have, for decades, shaped how any given issue is being discussed in the public arena, and who have created this false narrative of the opposition as being full of “hate”, “racism”, etc. He also was keenly aware that corruption was not a “one party” issue, and worked tirelessly to expose the corruptocrats on the left who the mainstream media so frequently give a pass to. He never gave up. Not ever.
Which is exactly the type of attitude we all need to have, even though sometimes the media/leftwing drumbeat can be so overwhelming that for a brief fleeting second the idea of just walking away from it all sounds tempting. As Breitbart and many of us knew (and know), we CANNOT and will not win long-term political victories if we can’t win the cultural war being waged against us by the hard left in the press and blogs, on the NYT editorial pages, in Hollywood, and in government.
We must never, ever walk away from the fight. Never, ever give up. We must all do our part, whether we are a “face” of the conservative movement, as Breitbart was, or a part of the movement process, which so many of us are.
Related to that, I wanted to share with you a series of Tweets I wrote last night that fits in with the discussion of Breitbart’s legacy going forward, and how he his death has emboldened many, including yours truly, to pick up his torch and continue the uphill but very necessary battle against liberalism (note: I changed some abbreviations used last night into actual words):
Having a Sally Field “they like me” moment after reading my Klout stats. It indicates I’m influential in a small way. That feels so good.
When I was a confused liberal teen I told mom I wanted to do more than just “exist” – wanted to make a difference in some way, even if small.
I thankfully grew up & away from liberalism & found light w/conservatism. 20 yrs later, I’m making that small difference. It’s overwhelming.
This isn’t my ego talking, btw – it’s pride in knowing you don’t have to be a big name to make an impact. Keep this in mind, young activists.
I see people start blogging all the time who want their name in lights [I used to be one of them]. Most don’t get there. You *have* to be ok w/ being part of the process rather than being the “face” of the process. It’s rewarding in its own way. Everyone working toward a common cause – the defeat of liberalism.
I’m thankful as heck for all who have made names for themselves in this epic battle, who are on the frontlines everyday. Am also grateful to be a part of the process via being one little link in the conservative chain of information & activism, even if it is on a small scale.
@AndrewBreitbart was out front, but anyone who ever met him will tell you he had great appreciation for activists whose names you’ll never know.
He knew, big name or not, everyone had a role to play in the struggle vs. liberalism, & that winning would be its own reward – enough for us all.
Remember that as you reflect on what he did, his impact/legacy, & consider the future of conservatism. Then identify your role – & go forth!
And one other thing to remember – as Andrew Breitbart wrote in his second to the last tweet:
Be strong. Be direct. Be fearless. Engage. Expose. Inspire. And never, ever apologize for being a conservative. EVER.
Everyone with me?