I Never Expected Andrew Breitbart to Break My Heart

I never expected Andrew Breitbart to break my heart.  Then again, I never expected to be attempting to eulogize him at the age of 43.  It’s funny — even though he was five months my junior, I looked up to Andrew as if he were a big brother.  I suspect many of us in the conservative blogosphere did.  Whether he set out to be, he was, without question, our fearless leader.

So many words and tributes have issued forth today from those who knew him far better and have a far greater voice than I.  It almost makes me question whether/why I should bother weighing in.  Almost.  But I know the writing of this will help me heal.  It always does.  And when I read the wisdom-filled words of my friend, Jimmie Bise (@jimmiebjr): “Don’t hesitate. Go. Be where you should be, not where that bitter and wicked inner critic says you should be….It’s about what you let stop you, what you let hold you back from living the live you *want* to live.”  I know that here at the computer, setting these thoughts and words down, is where I should be.  Most of all, when I think of what Andrew stood for, I know this is what I should do.  Because I’m not just going to share this perspective with my political friends — those who share my views and my familiarity with/respect for Andrew.  I’m going to share this with all of my friends in the hopes that some who either didn’t know Andrew, or who only knew what his detractors had to say of him, will come to a fuller understanding of who he was and how deeply his life touched mine and many others.

I started the day out with thoughts of my dear Grandmother.  Today would have been her 106th birthday.  And, as I always do in celebration of the occasion, I wrote a little something about her to share with others.  http://www.somewhereovertheseptictank.blogspot.com/2012/03/magic-of-grandma.html  I had just posted it to Facebook and then Twitter when I saw a tweet that might as well have been a gut-punch: https://twitter.com/BrentTeichman/statuses/175219967044755456  My immediate reaction was denial. I read the linked article/tribute from Larry Solov in utter disbelief.  In fact, the next words I uttered were “This can’t be real.”  It’s still not fully sunk in almost 16 hours later.  Sudden, unexpected death is always a shock, especially when the person is relatively young.  But when that person is someone you look up to as a leader, someone who serves as the very heart of something you believe in passionately…the loss is simply devastating.

I’d just posted my link about Grandma and changed my avatar to a pic of her with me when the news hit.  I was hesitant to change it again so quickly.  But then I thought about it and imagined what my Grandma might think of Andrew, and it occurred to me, she’d probably have liked him quite a lot.  She might have thought him rather cheeky, but I suspect she’d have found that amusing.  I also suspect that, had she known him, she’d have admonished him to take better care of himself.  And I feel fairly confident she’d understand that today seemed like a day to both mourn him and celebrate his life. Grandma understood grieving.

So I posted several links and changed my avi  – not just on Twitter, but on Facebook, as well.  And the response was immediate and overwhelming.  And not just from friends who know and like Breitbart.  I emphasize the Facebook thing because I’ve typically made it my practice to keep my politics off Facebook.  (Not always, but for the most part.)  I do this because I have many friends and family members whom I love dearly but who I know do not share my views.  And I view Facebook as my tether to all friends.  It is my goal to share bits of my life there without alienating.  And politics do sometimes (often?) alienate folks.  Of course, anyone who knows me at all knows I’m a political junkie.  This isn’t something I hide. I just figure those that who share my views or are at least interested in them know where/how to discuss them with me if they so desire.

After I finally managed to collect myself and start the drive into work, I spoke to my Mom on the phone, and told her the news.  She wasn’t particularly familiar with Andrew, either.  And I’m quite certain she probably didn’t share many of his views.  Still, she was sympathetic in the way that only Moms can be.  And I am grateful for that.  But that, combined with the response on Facebook made me want to write about this in a way that anyone who considers me friend (or family) could understand why this has hit so hard.

To start, I thought I’d share some excerpts I’ve written regarding Andrew previously:

Maiden Voyage – Part I

August 1, 2011

This weekend marked my first foray into the world of political conventioneering — at least as an adult.  As a child, I had a fair amount of exposure to political gatherings and such through my parents, albeit of the liberal/Democrat stripe.  Smart Girl Summit 2011 (#SGS11) served as my initiation into convocations of the conservative variety….

Anticipation

As the summit drew nearer, I found myself eagerly anticipating it.  The line up of speakers was impressive.  And here was a chance for me to meet and mingle with fellow conservatives — people who actually speak my language and whose eyes don’t glaze over when you start discussing primaries and debt ceilings and the Fair Tax.  Most importantly, I was really excited about meeting both Nikki and Sarah — in my few months following and interacting with them, they’ve both shown themselves to be very bright, energetic, engaging ladies, and I just new we’d have ourselves some fun!

The last minute announcement that @AndrewBreitbart would also be in attendance at the summit was the wickedly delicious icing on the cake.  I hate to so readily cop to hero worship, but…who am I kidding?  The guy’s proven himself a fearless warrior in the fight to expose leftist hypocrisy and journalistic double-standards.  Plus he’s rather endearingly irreverent….

Smart Girl Prom

After a quick change back at my office into somewhat cocktaily attire, I returned to the hotel for the Banquet and Awards….

Last, but far from least, Andrew Breitbart.  Disarmingly funny, brazenly blunt, and all fired up.  It impressed me that he’d hopped in a rented Camaro and roadtripped it down here from Michigan to attend.  His account of the hotel towel shortage had me cringing again at the decidedly unimpressive accommodations, though he was good natured about it all.  Later, he was extraordinarily patient, posing for pics with all the fangirls and fanboys, myself included.  I would think it might be weird to have that degree of hero-worship focused on you, but he seems to take it all in stride….

The remainder of the evening was split between the hotel bar and the conference room, chatting with my new friends.  Very much enjoyed getting to know them all a bit better!  Even that soul-devouring @demonsheep! The end of the evening found us all back downstairs at the bar, amid grumblings from several of my pals regarding the slooooowness of the elevators.  It probably didn’t help matters that the hotel was hosting one or two very large family reunions, and it was a Cubs-Cards weekend.

At one point, Loren and I decided to go talk to Breitbart who was seated nearby. I worked up the nerve to sit down next to him and tell him how much the first couple chapters of his book reminded me of me — not his wild-child days at Tulane so much, but just his outlook and motivators at that stage of his life.  Another friend or two came over to talk, as well, and I found myself somewhat trapped — not in a bad way at all — it’s just that there was no graceful or polite way to exit the conversation so as to avoid monopolizing it.  So, I ended up having a nice chat with him — about my work, St. Louis politics, commercial real estate, kids.  I confessed to him how pleased I was when I awoke one morning a couple months ago to find that he’d started following me on Twitter.  Only to realize moments later that my new follower was actually one Andrew Breitfart.  It did put a grin on my face yesterday morning when the real McCoy actually did start following me.  This is what Twitter geeks would generally refer to as #winning.

Maiden Voyage – Part II

August 2, 2011
Next up was a lively Q&A session with @Andrew Breitbart.  Despite the obvious Breitbart admiration among summit goers, they didn’t just serve him up softballs.  There were a couple curve balls, and maybe even a wild pitch or two.  But his responses didn’t disappoint. He didn’t bat an eye at the Shirley Sherrod question, though, come to think of it, he’s probably been asked it a thousand times in the past year.  (Folks, please – read the actual article.  And if you’re really interested in educating yourself about the situation, I also highly recommend taking a gander at the Motion to Dismiss filed on behalf of the Defendants in the suit. Though it was recently denied by the Court, it does a splendid job of setting out the pertinent chronology.)

What resonated most with me, however, were his comments about the people who are presently doing battle on the front lines of the Tea Party/Conservative movement, and how they’ve been, in many cases, abandoned by those who really should have their backs.  This tied into his observations in “Undefeated” — which was screened immediately after — regarding all the “eunuchs” in the GOP who’ve left Palin to the wolves (or, in some cases, turned their fangs on her themselves.)  This, I will have to address in a separate entry. For now, I will simply say that I’d planned on skipping the screening. I’m so very glad I didn’t, even though the post-lunch zombie stupor about got the better of me long about the middle of the film.

B-Team Blogging, Technical Difficulties & Blog Bash – CPAC Thursday

February 14, 2012

Luckily, Harry’s Pub (located just off the lobby in the Marriott) was not terribly crowded at that point, and I was able to snag a seat at the bar and wolf down a bacon cheeseburger and Dr. Pepper.  This improved my physical and mental well-being immensely!  Soon, I saw a tweet from one of my favorite Misfits and earliest true friends on Twitter, Cole Streeper (@colestreeper1), indicating he was about to watch Andrew Breitbart (@andrewbreitbart) and Brandon Darby (@brandondarby) speak — knew I definitely wanted to catch that!

I made my way to the CPAC Theater for the Citizens United presentation previewing their upcoming film exposing Occupy Wall Street.  Breitbart and Darby were part of the panel, as were Lee Stranahan (@Stranahan), Stephen Bannon (@StephenBannon) and Citizens United President David Bossie (@David_Bossie).  On my way in, I had the great good fortune of finally meeting the aforementioned Jimmie Bise.  So good to see him in person and get to chat, even if only briefly!  Before the presentation started, I also was able to make my way up to the front and find Cole to say hello and give him a long overdue hug.

Two of the panel were present, but the remaining three (including Breitbart) made a rather grand entrance complete with Guy Fawkes masks, which caused a humorous stir in the audience.  After a brief introduction, they showed the preview of the film which promises to be an unvarnished and unpleasant look at the realities of the Occupy movement.  The panel fielded a number of questions.  My favorite one came from the…skeptic…who questioned Bannon about the criticisms and “lack of success” of his prior film regarding Sarah Palin “The Undefeated.”  He was shot down pretty soundly, especially when he admitted he hadn’t actually watched the film.  This was a lively presentation, and I enjoyed it and look forward to seeing “Occupy Unmasked” when it is released.

(I didn’t include this in the blog originally, but one of the funniest moments of the presentation came when, toward the end of it, Andrew’s phone suddenly started ringing. He jumped up as he was answering it and, in typical Breitbartian fashion, announced to the room, “Oh, it’s Hannity – I’m supposed to be on Hannity!” And proceeded to bound out of the room while commencing the interview.  I’ve often categorized various folks I know as Winnie the Pooh archetypes….Andrew was pure Tigger, and that moment captured it perfectly.)

Red Carpets, Balconies, Occupiers, One Percenters & Eye-Opening Experiences – CPAC Friday

February 16, 2012

Later, we returned to the Marriott and rejoined the rest of the gang.  Snapped a pic with one of my new friends, Amelia Hamilton (@AmeliaHammy), author of One Nation Under God: A Book for Little Patriots – http://www.ameliahamilton.com/ – which is a must have for all parents who want their kids to learn about history, government and our basic rights from an early age!

Also saw Andrew Breitbart (@AndrewBreitbart), and will admit I was flattered when he recalled out meeting at Smart Girl Summit and my being a runner:

********

Well, that’s not even all of what I’ve written previously — just some highlights.  But I also want to share a few things that came to mind today, or that I saw others say regarding Andrew:

Many bloggers and pundits have shared their thoughts on Breitbart today.  Some of them have written hauntingly beautiful tributes.  I know my friend, Sarah Rumpf, has done her best to collect many of them in one place on her blog: http://www.sunshinestatesarah.com/2012/03/we-have-lost-giant-rip-andrew-breitbart.html
Over and over again, we’ve seen references to him as a warrior, a happy warrior, fearless, generous in spirit, generous with his time, likable, sweet, bursting with energy, bustling with ideas.  I know there are many out there who view him through a different lens, but this is the man that I and so many others whom I hold dear have come to know and love.  Andrew was a man who lived life large and found a way to employ his God-given talents in an amazing way.  He fought tirelessly and unapologetically for what he believed in.  I think, for me, one of the aspects of his story that resonated most was his own journey from liberalism to conservatism.  While our paths were somewhat different, here was someone whose view of the political spectrum was quite similar to mine; who, like me, could remember what it was like to hold those other views and used that to inform his championing of conservatism. 
 
Early on, I remarked on his affable response to the hero worship.  He was a mega star in the political/media world, but you would never know it to see him or talk to him.  You’d expect someone who’s achieved his degree of notoriety, success and power to be full of himself.  But he wasn’t.  He was full of life.  We lost a patriot, a champion and a friend today.  The conservative blogging community has been reeling from this news.  And yes, many of us truly are heartbroken.  However, Lisa Mei Norton posted this quote earlier and I thought it more than fitting:

“It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather we should thank God that such men lived.”
George S. Patton

I certainly am thankful.  *Cheers* Andrew.  Time for a well-deserved rest.  Don’t you worry.  We’ll keep up the good fight.

Editing to add in Rick Hornsby’s hauntingly beautiful tribute: 

One Voice

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