Andrew Breitbart, 1969-2012
From The Scrapbook
Mar 12, 2012, Vol. 17, No. 25 • By THE SCRAPBOOK
So one could easily have envisioned this being the latest Breit-bart media stunt: Fake your own demise, go missing for 24 hours, thus encouraging all your ideological adversaries to bleat and fume and make asses of themselves just to prove what kind of sonsofbitches you were up against. Let the record show that tasteful blogger Matt Yglesias came through like clockwork, nearly getting ahead of the Los Angeles coroner’s announcement by crowing: “Conventions around dead people are ridiculous. The world outlook is slightly improved with Andrew Breitbart dead.” (Well done, Matt! Perhaps you could pass your thoughtful sentiments on to his fatherless children, since they likely don’t follow you on Twitter. Prick.)
But sadly, it was not Andrew’s last, greatest caper. Breitbart himself, of course, would’ve not only expected such aggression, but laughed at it, and even egged it on. One of his favorite pastimes was retweeting his own hate mail, which was voluminous. As a partisan warrior and a guerrilla-theater aficionado—half right wing Yippie, half Andy Kaufman—he made it his vocation to drive people crazy. Whatever detractors say, or more likely, whatever they spray, Breit-bart clearly excelled at his job.
His intensity could be alternately amusing and taxing. When he’d call you in the white-hot fever of one of the headline-garnering skirmishes that he’d inserted himself into—ACORN, Shirley Sherrod, Anthony Weiner’s schwantz pictorials—you knew that you could set the phone down, run some errands, and do some light yard work, then return without his ever realizing that you’d been gone. One of the many benefits of being friends with Andrew was that when he was on fire, which was often, there was no need to carry your share of the conversational load.
But at heart, he was in it for more than scoring points for “The Movement,” as he unironically called it. As anyone who has seen his recent CPAC speech knows, Breit-bart had the brains, the talent, and the animal charisma to get people to set cars on fire for him, or to run off with him to the desert, where he might start his own anti-Obama doomsday cult. But while he believed in what he espoused, perhaps a little too much, he was also in it for other reasons—for action and for amusement. He didn’t just hit scandal head-on. He enjoyed coming at it slyly. He gloried in the art of presentation. A few years back, when Andrew, his wife, Fox News host Greg Gutfeld, and I were having drinks at a Washington, D.C., hotel, Breit-bart showed me his Twitter mug shot.
Since he knew that I despise Twitter on principle, I thought he was deliberately sticking me in the eye. But he wasn’t. “Seriously,” he said. “Take a look. Do you notice anything different about me?” In the photo, he had newly grown facial hair. He was looking off into the middle distance in a way that did not quite resemble himself.
“I don’t know,” I said. “Did you lose weight? Get a haircut?”
“NO!!!!” he exclaimed, with some disappointment. “It’s exactly like Eric Boehlert’s Twitter picture! I’m mirroring him!” he said of his bête noire from the liberal media watchdog group Media Matters, which regularly tormented Breit-bart, and which in turn, he tormented.
There’s not a chance I could pick Eric Boehlert out of a police lineup. But there’s no way Breit-bart would’ve known that. He was a man who both loved and hated with his whole heart, often getting wrapped around the axle of his own narrative. When I looked at his long-suffering wife, asking her what she made of this, she affectionately shrugged her shoulders. The universal loving-wife symbol for “What can you do?”
The last time I saw Andrew was just a few weeks ago in what turned out to be one of his last capers: dinner at a swank Chicago penthouse with former Weather Underground terrorists/Obama confidants Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn. Andrew and I often disconnected on politics. Even though we were both conservatives, his mode was a little ferocious for my taste. We knew this, however. And so, it was never an issue. What was important was that he had the quality that all the people I like most have: He made me laugh. Whatever his faults, he was wicked and loyal and funny.
Our friend, Daily Caller editor Tucker Carlson, had won the Ayers dinner at a fundraising auction for the Illinois Humanities Council, and had brought us along. Tucker and I were a little worried that we had a human grenade in Breitbart, though if we were being honest with ourselves, that’s precisely why we brought him. With Andrew, every day was an anything-can-happen day.
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