Remembering Andrew Breitbart [With Comment by John]

Andrew Breitbart died 10 years ago today at the unreasonably young age of 43. The site named after him has posted the tribute below. The 59 speakers begin with Justice Clarence Thomas. Justice Thomas’s moving remarks come straight from the heart.

Andrew was something like the proverbial force of nature and a genius a few times over. He seemed to have time for everyone. It is unbelievable how many of us he befriended, affected, supported, nurtured, and influenced in his few years, all while doing his own work. As Boswell said of Johnson, his death “made a chasm, which not only nothing can fill up, but which nothing has a tendency to fill up.”

I traveled to Israel in a small group with Andrew and Larry Solov (then his attorney, now his successor running Breitbart) in 2007 on a “bloggers’ tour” led by Fern Oppenheim.

I don’t think I had ever heard of Andrew before the trip, yet it didn’t take long to get a bead on him. Thanks to Fern’s efforts, our third day included a meeting with Benjamin Netanyahu in Tel Aviv (photo nearby). Later that day we also took a low-flying chopper ride from a point near Tel Aviv down the border between Israel and the West Bank to Sderot and Gaza.

Our small group sat together for dinner around a table at a restaurant that evening at the end of a long day. Andrew was multitasking, pulling his shift on the Drudge Report. He was eating dinner, reading messages from reporters seeking links to their stories, instant messaging with John Podhoretz, and making himself the life of the party, all at the same time.

I learned in the course of the trip that it was Andrew who changed my life in 2004, linking to our “Sixty-First Minute” post early that afternoon with the screaming siren on Drudge. He confided that Matt Drudge did not like the sites that had sprung up online, but that he (Andrew) was a fan.

JOHN adds: Like probably a million others, I considered Andrew a friend. My most vivid memory of him is from a CPAC of around 11 years ago. My wife and I attended–I guess I was covering the event for Power Line–and we brought along our youngest daughter, then 14. We attended a speech by Andrew that drew a big crowd. I don’t recall what the announced topic of the speech was, but I don’t think Andrew ever got to it. He went on one riff after another; you could call it stand-up comedy, but I’ve never seen a comedian that funny. At one point Andrew recalled how he rollerbladed up to a crowd of left-wing protesters at a Koch event in Palm Springs, delivered a stemwinder and led them off to a nearby bar or restaurant, ending the protest.

When he mimed rollerblading on the stage, my daughter fell off her chair laughing. She had never seen anything like it. Later we tracked Andrew down and he generously made his time available to a 14 year old girl, as he seemingly did for everyone. She never forgot it. For her, it was the beginning of a career in activism that continues to this day. Andrew Breitbart touched more lives than he knew.

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