The Lion sleeps tonight.
Andrew Breitbart passed away yesterday at the too young age of 43, an age when the clarity as to what in the world your purpose might be on earth begins to gain real definition. At just such an age Andrew Breitbart was every day re-writing and re-framing his own definition of worthy activity and purpose. It is a nearly intolerable loss to the fragile movement to restore the concept of intelligent and healthy skepticism to a world that has fallen in love with “settled” science, political correctness, and self loathing for the great achievements of western civilization. Andrew Breitbart’s enormous contribution to defining and constructing a media platform for universal availability of information and insightful opinion, and the courageous exposure of those who would seek to pervert and exploit the government’s progressive power to control individual expression, makes Andrew Breitbart an archangel of the western ideal, a passionate defender of the Ramparts , and #20 of Ramparts People We Should Know.
Andrew Breitbart’s singular skill has been a savant’s understanding of the power of the Internet. A classic collegiate underachiever who self-admittedly majored in partying in college, Breitbart was a liberal supporter of the usual college causes, but had his eyes opened by the Clarence Thomas inquisition as to the inherent hypocrisy of those who loudly proclaimed the accepted litany of racism or sexism, than turned around and attacked individuals on the basis of race or sex, simply because they had differing personal stories or philosophies to the accepted mantra. It didn’t fit Breitbart’s gut sense of how individualism should be celebrated, not categorized, and it forever changed him. Recognizing the potential of the infant internet, in 1995 he got himself introduced to Matt Drudge of the Internet pioneering Drudge Report, and proved to be a natural at understanding the internet’s incredibly brisk pace, huge store of information, and universal access. He became an editor and headline writer for the blog post and was so impressive, that Drudge introduced his talents to others seeking a start in the new world of alternative media. He was hired by Arianna Huffington to help her structure her internet media site and with Andrew Breitbart’s help, managed to achieve a dominant status in alternative media as the Huffington Post. It became clear to many that Breitbart had special skills and he found himself writing for many online outlets, including National Review Online and the Wall Street Journal.
Andrew Breitbart was certainly not satisfied to be just your average quality editor and blogger. He began to synthesize his personal vision of alternative media to what he viewed as the corrupted and stilted viewpoints of traditional media. It started with his own internet news site, Breitbart.com, and his big ideas grew into a multifaceted platform for the sifting of information on entertainment, government, foreign policy, and media itself. The Breitbart empire grew into an aggressive counterview to the prevailing liberal inflection to every news event. Then, the moment of transition when Breitbart went from passive reporting to active exposure of injustice and hypocrisy. A child of television and familiar with traditional media’s predilection for gotcha news with hidden cameras, (such as the stings venerable 60 minutes was renowned for), Breitbart devised a sting operation in which he arranged to have an absurd proposition be proposed to the notorious community activist group, ACORN, to expose their flagrant lack of morality in the service of organizational power. A fake pimp and prostitute presented themselves to ACORN representatives as desirous of setting up an underage brothel to be supplied by illegal alien conduits. Absurd of course to everyone but ACORN, an organization positioned to filch from the American taxpayer a cool billion dollars in support of such incredible immoralities. Breitbart played the hidden video releases serially like a concert maestro, letting traditional media outlets put up excuse after excuse for ACORN’s actions, only to have each reaction destroyed by a further Breitbart videotape. It caused the exposure of the blatant partisan nature of ACORN, and forced the Congress to de-fund it. It made Breitbart a mega Internet star, and forever, the devil incarnate to establishment defenders.
The ACORN sting was followed by others, and Breitbart became the internet face of the mad as hell we are not going to take it anymore crowd. He found his special muse in the actions of the Tea Party, enamored with their spontaneous rejection of governmental dominance, adherence to the fundamental founding principles of the republic, and the visible hatred they engendered in the traditional media, for simply declaring their rights to disagree and organize opposition as Americans. Breitbart traveled the nation speaking at Tea Party gatherings, supporting the cause, and defending agressively against those that sought to do damage to the movement. Breitbart had become this generation’s Teddy Roosevelt, using his bully pulpit to re-align American thinking, and defend American exceptionalism.
He was nowhere near tapped out in ideas or energy when the great warrior’s heart began to fail him. Friends have suggested that Breitbart had sustained a significant heart attack just a month ago, but had ignored warnings to rest or reduce his crazy schedule. He was preparing to present his latest internet vision this month when his heart failed him and put out his light. The incredible flurry of responses, both laudatory and savage, showed the tremendous impact he managed to have on the dominant informational source of our times, the Internet, and the emotions he stirred. His mind was a creative one, and his soul visionary. We have managed to lose one of the great defenders of the Ramparts, at a moment western society needed him most. Although Andrew Breitbart will live on through his creations, the voice of those of us who hope for a world where individual capacity is elevated, not oppressed, was diminished measurably. Andrew, travel the river Styx in peace – we the forever indebted will make sure there is money for you for the boatman.