[Updates, two so far, at end of post]
To leave at the age of just 43 is too soon for anyone in today’s world, and despite my distaste for his tactics, and much of his politics, I make no exception for Andrew Breitbart, who passed last night in Los Angeles. Nobody who follows politics in the USA will have been able to avoid his presence these past few years. The Right has suffered a major loss with his death.
Yet I am not surprised, but rather saddened, by the news: Breitbart appeared to take the whole business of blogging, punditry, activism and politics far too seriously. He was not only committed, and fiercely and unequivocally so, but he was also angry. It was a clear anger, a rage against his opponents for being, well, opposed to him. He gave the clear impression of a man very heavily stressed.
Anyone wondering what I mean need look no further than Breitbart’s appearance outside the 2012 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), where he went to confront a group of Occupy protesters. Screaming “behave yourselves”, then calling them “filthy freaks”, telling them to “stop raping people” and finally denouncing them as “murdering”, Breitbart is clearly charged up.
The person who seeks to copy Breitbart on this side of the north Atlantic, the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines – whose ability to reinterpret reality in a creative manner is in every way as original and bizarre as his contemporary – tends not to get himself into such a state. And, whatever I think of Staines’ qualities – we’re out of postage stamps right now – he at least does get one thing about this game.
And that is that you should not take that game, nor yourself, too seriously. This is a spectator sport, and participation is best left to those foolish enough to offer themselves up to the electorate. Andrew Breitbart, at times, tried to enter the fray himself, rather than remaining in the stands. That was the measure of his commitment. So what will endure?
The Big Government, Big Journalism and Big Hollywood sites have become fearsome misinformation machines, mainlining right-wing attack propaganda in a shameless, utterly committed way that takes no prisoners. This did not win friends elsewhere on the political spectrum, especially after the ACORN “sting” videos, and the Shirley Sherrod video edit, over which a lawsuit was pending.
But, despite the sometimes vicious conflict which Breitbart gave every appearance of enjoying, the people at Media Matters For America (MMFA) have stated “We’ve disagreed more than we’ve found common ground, but there was never any question of Andrew’s passion for and commitment to what he believed. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family today”.
Don’t take this game too seriously, folks. It’s not worth it.
[UPDATE1 1720 hours: James "saviour of Western civilisation" Delingpole has posted his own thoughts on Breitbart's passing, noting that he enjoyed "a voraciously Type A lifestyle - drinking, smoking and burger-scoffing like there was no tomorrow", which would not have done his health any favours.
Fortunately, Del Boy brings unintended hilarity to proceedings when he observes of Breitbart "he also knew how to use Twitter as a devastating weapon against the enemy. It's a simple technique which I've since copied". Sadly, nobody told Del Boy that enemies are unlikely to be devastated by blocking them.
(The perpetually thirsty Paul Staines has also posted a tribute which you can see HERE)]
[UPDATE2 2 March: Telegraph luminary Tim Stanley has weighed in with his own thoughts on the news, telling "Andrew Breitbart was the authentic voice of the Tea Party revolution". This is grade A bullshit, and for two very good reasons.
The so-called "Tea Party revolution" is nothing more than a loose assembly of convenient idiots, whipped up by Fox News Channel (fair and balanced my arse) and paid for by the Koch brothers and their like.
Breitbart, on the other hand, was the authentic voice of Himself Personally Now - he was independent of any overlord or controlling interest. I'm sure that Tim Stanley will take this on board - after all, you can tell him as he's a Doctor]