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J.B. Smith on Dean Barnett

4:05 PM, Oct 28, 2008 • By JOHN MCCORMACK
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A long-time correspondent of Dean's writes:

I didn't know Dean very well on a personal level, but I considered him my friend, as I am sure he was a friend to a great many of you out there. I came to know Dean originally from his first blog, www.dbsoxblog.blogspot.com, after Mickey Kaus gave him his big break, by linking to this post pointing out that John Kerry is, in all probability, not the sharpest tool in the shed. I found that post to be funny, and set upon reading his archieves, becoming a huge fan quickly. He wrote with a sharp, cutting wit and offered smart perspective on politics rarely found, and non existent amongst most of the punditry class.

During this time I started my own blog, which was non-political. You see, I had been "backdrafted" into the army for service in Iraq and wanted to keep in touch with people back home, plus the mission I was on, training Iraqi troops, was unique compared to much of what was out there at the time. As he wrote a lot about Iraq, I sent him a link so he could see another perspective, with the precondition he not link to it so I could maintain some anominity. He gave me some good advice on postings, and he used some of my experiences and insights for posting on military matters. After I shut down my blog for operational security reasons, he made sure I knew Soxblog was open if I ever had anything to say. I took him up one time, when we did a school supplies drive for Iraqi School children and wanted to solicit donations. He posted a nice post which was picked up on a couple of other blogs and drove a lot of donations to our cause (even one from TWS's very own Jonathan Last).

During my tour I kept in contact with him, trading emails and sharing my frustrations at how slowly things were progressing there. When I came back, I waited a year or so and then both Dean and Jonathan helped me publish an article which was subsequently carried by Townhall.com, expressing my frustration with (pre-surge) US policy in Iraq. Dean linked to me and it became one of Townhall's most forwarded and read columns for a week. And, over the past 21 months, we've traded emails and shared perspectives on many current events. Getting an email from him was always special - I've never deleted a one.

I would regularly check the page on the blogs he posted on, and, as I was familiar with his health condition, I knew this day would eventually com. As a "civilian" in this sense, it is amazing how the columnists we love become a part of our lives, even if we never get to converse with them. I have fallen in love with the works of three pundits - Mike Royko, Michael Kelly, and now Dean Barnett. Neither Royko or Kelly ever knew I was a fan of course, but I had the privilege of knowing, in a limited sense, Dean. I am sure I am not alone in feeling the loss of him will forever abate the enjoyment I get from the blogosphere.

Good Bye, my friend.