Excellent Obit From Frum

I really don’t have anything to say about the passing of Breitbart other than I am really sad for his family. These poor kids just lost their dad.

I don’t see any purpose in getting my jollies trashing the guy as he is dead and can no longer defend himself, and I really think that when you can’t wait to spit on someone’s grave, it doesn’t reflect badly on them. I’m a deeply flawed person myself- vulgar and profane, often times bitter, often too quick to judge, I don’t do enough for my fellow man, and many other flaws too numerous to count, but I do honestly try to be a better person. In my estimation, part of trying to be a better person is showing a basic level of decency that includes having the self-restraint to not trash the recently deceased. I know some of you don’t feel the same way, and I know for a fact Breitbart himself didn’t feel constrained by any similar notions of restraint or respect for others, but I’d like to try to be a better man.

I’ve seen a lot of obits and personal remembrances, but this Frum piece is measured and outstanding:

In time, Andrew Breitbart might have aged into greater self-control and a higher concept of public service. Premature death deprived him of the chance at redemption often sought and sometimes found by people who have done wrong in their lives and work.

And this is where it becomes difficult to honor the Roman injunction to speak no ill of the dead. It’s difficult for me to assess Breitbart’s impact upon American media and American politics as anything other than poisonous. When one of the leading media figures of the day achieves his success by his giddy disdain for truth and fairness—when one of our leading political figures offers to his admirers a politics inflamed by rage and devoid of ideas—how to withhold a profoundly negative judgment on his life and career?

Especially when that career was so representative of his times?

We live in a time of political and media demagoguery unparalleled since the 19th century. Many of our most important public figures have gained their influence and power by inciting and exploiting the ugliest of passions—by manipulating fears and prejudices—by serving up falsehoods as reported truth. In time these figures will one by one die. What are we to say of this cohort, this group, this generation? That their mothers loved them? That their families are bereaved? That their fans admired them and their employees treated generously by them? Public figures are inescapably judged by their public actions. When those public actions are poisonous, the obituary cannot be pleasant reading.

In my estimation, Breitbart was far more damaging to the causes he claimed to support than he was to “teh left.” He got a few scalps, but he was one of the ringleaders fueling the insanity in the current right-wing circus. He’s as much an architect of the tea party sickness infecting our body politic as anyone, so there really is no reason to trash the guy. His legacy does that by itself.

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88 replies
  1. 1
    Jenny says:

    You expressed my position much better than I could myself. And I also saw David Frum’s piece and thought it an excellent cover. As my Mother always said, If you can’t say anything nice…..

  2. 2
    StringonaStick says:

    Both your comments and Frums are excellent obits. I will leave it at that.

  3. 3
    Dave says:

    It’s sad, really. You only get one life and he wasted his being so angry at everyone.

  4. 4
    Xecky Gilchrist says:

    In time, Andrew Breitbart might have aged into greater self-control and a higher concept of public service.

    I’m not much interested in bashing Breitbart either, but if you haven’t got it by 43, I’m not hopeful. To paraphrase Tom Lehrer: when Martin Luther King Jr. was Breitbart’s age, he’d been dead for 4 years.

  5. 5
    Wag says:

    I keep thinks about an old George Carlin bit about not speaking ill of the dead. “He was an asshole… but a well meaning asshole.”

    Except AB wasn’t well meaning.

    RIP. and may our country become a little more peaceful in his absence.

  6. 6
    Mike Goetz says:

    Wow, that’s cold steel, but fair and not mean.

    Unlike…well, never mind.

  7. 7
    khead says:

    He’s as much an architect of the tea party sickness infecting out body politic as anyone, so there really is no reason to trash the guy

    You serious, Clark?

  8. 8
    BlueDWarrior says:

    Put me in the camp of concurrence.
    I could say all number of ill things about what Brietbart and his ilk has done, still do, and will most likely continue to do. I just wish his family the best and that none of them decide to walk that dark road themselves.

  9. 9
    Billy Beane says:

    I have no such reservations Wrong Again Cole. Fuck Briebart. Good riddance.

    If his children were forced to live with him playing hatey the right wing clown…well guess what?! Part of that deal with the devil that he made is that he also gets it after he’s dead. Don’t blame me and all the other people saying good riddance today. Blame him for making that decision to be that guy in the first place.

    And if you don’t like it then fuck you too!

    And oh btw since so many around here seem to continue to be clueless morons about all this stuff. It was mostly all an act. The guy did this for a living remember. He’s a professional hater if you will. We may never know what he really thought. There is no doubt that in order to do that for a living you have to draw on a part of you that is passionate about it and believes in it. The big question which (trust me) you never really know, is just how much of their core beliefs they are drawing on.

    Same can be said for all the other professional haters and right wing red meat throwers out there.

  10. 10
    Violet says:

    Nicely done, John.

  11. 11
    Xecky Gilchrist says:

    Many of our most important public figures have gained their influence and power by inciting and exploiting the ugliest of passions—by manipulating fears and prejudices—by serving up falsehoods as reported truth.

    coughcough Axis of Evil coughcough

  12. 12
    EJ says:

    Not feeling it. The guy wasn’t just a pompous blowhard. His MO was to deliberately wreck the lives and careers of good people. I’d never say this if I thought there was the slightest chance his family reads Balloon Juice comments, but fuck him. Good riddance.

  13. 13
    Nicole says:

    Having lost a parent when I was a child, I feel awful for his kids.

    He always came across as a desperately unhappy human being. If there is an afterlife, I hope his soul is at peace now.

  14. 14
    Tractarian says:

    Why do you think is Frum somehow not “trashing” Breitbart? Is it just by ending all his sentences with question marks?

    And aren’t you trashing him by suggesting his legacy trashes him by itself?

    This is very sad, he was very young, and he leaves behind kids. But people need to lighten up.

  15. 15
    beergoggles says:

    I just don’t have the same urge to urinate on his grave as I did when Falwell bit it.

  16. 16
    Trinity says:

    Nicely done Cole.

  17. 17
    Elizabelle says:

    @Xecky Gilchrist:

    FWIW, Harvey LeRoy “Lee” Atwater died aged 40. He’d begun to repent before that; he became aware of his fast-moving brain cancer about age 39.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lee_Atwater

    There was a good play about Atwater’s deathbed conversion : “Fixin’ to Die”.

  18. 18
    ornery_curmudgeon says:

    Enough said.

  19. 19
    LAC says:

    I am with Billy Beane. Sorry, but having seen up close the damage he did to Shirley, I will not apologize for my “fuck off” eulogy. However, I did like David Frum’s eloquent posting. But what he writes about is a wasted life. I doubted redemption would have been a part of it. If Breitbart had any self awareness or real sense of spirituality, he would have lived his life better. We are not promised tomorrow so you need to live your life like everyday is your last. Living it pursuing a craven purpose and with no moral compass is wrong. To leave behind this sort of legacy is truly pathetic.

  20. 20
    J.D. Rhoades says:

    Ted Kennedy had kids, too.

  21. 21
    Enhanced Voting Techniques says:

    Been threw this with people I have known. Some people are a lose, some people its good riddance to the human trash.

  22. 22
    Elizabelle says:

    From Josh Marshall at TPM:

    I noticed on my Facebook feed this morning this comment from my friend Hilary Rosen: “‎#AndrewBreitbart RIP you big crazy rabble-rousing bundle of contradictions, loathsome actions and a giant heart. You have made your mark.” I don’t think I can say anything more fitting.

    “loathesome actions and a giant heart”

    Maybe in a non-internet age, he might have written fiction; he showed a flair for it.

    I wondered if Breitbart might have tempered over time.

    He didn’t get it, though. He is what he was.

  23. 23
    HumboldtBlue says:

    He spent his the last years of his life telling lies, telling more egregious lies and generally fucking with good people trying to do their best for the nation.

    But, some-fucking-how we’re supposed to be better people because the sack of lying shit died and therefore, well, don’t say anything bad, read — the truth — about the asshole. He’s fucking dead and it’s a shame he left kids behind because now they’ll have to face the fact that their dad was a walking, talking, screaming, bigoted piece of shit.

    Either he’s a fucking liar who helped poison honest discourse or he’s not, whether or not he’s dead has no bearing on the matter.

  24. 24
    amused says:

    The guy knew he had a bad heart, yet he kept drinking, drugging and raging. He left his kids fatherless on purpose. The kids are better off.

  25. 25
    Brachiator says:

    but I do honestly try to be a better person.

    This pretty much sums up the difference between you and Breitbart.

    In my estimation, Breitbart was far more damaging to the causes he claimed to support than he was to “teh left”

    Bullshit. Breitbart sought to deliberately hurt and humiliate real actual persons in pursuit of his ideological causes. And he delighted in the harm that he caused.

    He was a piece of shit while alive. I don’t relish his death. But then again, his death does not require that I ignore the damage he caused.

    Balloon Juicers just love to call the worst conservatives thugs, psychopaths, and sociopaths. A bit of hyperbole. And yet, when a nasty piece of work passes from this plane of existence, you get all queasy, and want to play nice.

    But I am reminded of this scene from A Time To Kill:

    D.A. Rufus Buckley: Do you think they should deserve to die?
    Carl Lee Hailey: Yes, they deserved to die and I hope they burn in hell!

    It does not trash Breitbart to tell the truth about him. I hope he is frying to a crisp.

  26. 26
    Samara Morgan says:

    i agree with this, Cole.
    heres what i just said to Treacher.
    Samara Morgan – March 1, 2012 | 3:56 pm · Link

    @Jim Treacher: see what Frum says here?

    This indifference to detail suffused all of Breitbart’s work, and may indeed be his most important and lasting legacy. Breitbart sometimes got stories right (Anthony Weiner). More often he got them wrong (Sherrod). He did not much care either way. Just as all is fair in a shooting war, so manipulation and deception are legitimate tools in a culture war. Breitbart used those tools without qualm or regret, and he inspired a cohort of young conservative journalists to do likewise.

    that is Breitbarts legacy, Treach. Its you and Fucker Carlson and James Poulos the Tarnsman of Gor and James O’Keefe. A cohort of young conservative ratfuckers that are willing to use any lie, any inflammatory rhetoric, say anything, do anything to win.

    Samara Morgan – March 1, 2012 | 4:06 pm · Link

    @Jim Treacher: and conservatives can’t ever “win” the “culture war” or “take back culture”, no matter how many dirty tricks you use.
    Because culture isnt a steering wheel you can grab on to wrench back onto your conservative path.
    That is what Big Hollywood was, Breitbarts attempt to “take back culture”.
    Culture is not a steering wheel…it is a multidimensional reflective surface.
    Liberals will always beat you in the culture wars because they are just being part of culture, being themselves, just trying to write a good book, make a good film, write and perform good music, do good science, etc.
    I dont think Breitbart ever understood culture at all.

  27. 27
    Ash Can says:

    Regardless of my comment from this morning, I do feel sorry for his family members. No matter what, this is a difficult time for them. The fact remains, though, that Andrew Breitbart hurt many people — beginning with those who worked for and were helped by ACORN — and did appreciable damage to the nation by way of (further) fouling public discourse. David Frum sums it up beautifully.

  28. 28
    Catsy says:

    @EJ:

    Not feeling it. The guy wasn’t just a pompous blowhard. His MO was to deliberately wreck the lives and careers of good people. I’d never say this if I thought there was the slightest chance his family reads Balloon Juice comments, but fuck him. Good riddance.

    In a nutshell. QFT.

  29. 29
    Citizen_X says:

    It’s probably best to moderate one’s gloating after an enemy’s passing. Still, when I read this:

    Many of our most important public figures have gained their influence and power by inciting and exploiting the ugliest of passions—by manipulating fears and prejudices—by serving up falsehoods as reported truth. In time these figures will one by one die.

    my first reaction is, Limbaugh! Limbaugh! Limbaugh!

  30. 30
    blahblah says:

    What if his kids and wife turn out to be assholes too? Then we’re all holding back for nothing.

  31. 31
    Cowbelle says:

    “Why do you grant a BULLY special status upon his death?”

  32. 32
    Seebach says:

    Are we sure his kids won’t be better off without him? Yeah, dad’s a crazy rage filled alcoholic ideologue oozing poisonous hatred.

    Too bad he won’t be there for his kids.

  33. 33
    Boots Day says:

    In my estimation, Breitbart was far more damaging to the causes he claimed to support than he was to “teh left”

    ACORN helped actual living, powerless people lead better lives. Somewhere in America there are people without jobs and without a decent place to live who might have those things if there was still an ACORN around to help them.

    Bretibart didn’t just damage some inchoate entity called “teh left.” He damaged people’s lives, American lives. He did this not in pursuit of some larger good but in the crazed belief that ACORN and some random USDA official in Georgia were exercising tyranny over the right kind of Americans. This nation is better off without him.

  34. 34
    cintibud says:

    “What are they gonna say about him? What are they gonna say? That he was a kind man? That he was a wise man? That he had plans, man? That he had wisdom? Bullshit, man! “

  35. 35
    Birthmarker says:

    Not that I loved Caesar less, but that I loved
    Rome more.

    I think the Frum piece was, as said above, cold steel.

    Somewhere I read today that Breitbart was bickering on twitter late last night. I checked, and he was.

    Googling also led me to one of O’Keefe’s “events,” with a woman named Nadia Naffe, which I had missed. Some husband, boyfriend or Daddy is going to rid us of that turbulent O’Keefe. He usually targets women, doesn’t he.

    Or O’Keefe’s own self hatred will get him.

  36. 36
    Can't Be Bothered says:

    There’s an easy way to avoid being remembered as an asshole when you die: don’t be an asshole your whole life. I simply don’t get why Breitbart should be given consideration in death. He EARNED every bad thing that’s being said about him and then some.

  37. 37
    Marcellus Shale, Public Dick says:

    sorry, but read how he is eulogized as a “happy warrior” by his own sites and others, then go read the poem by william wordsworth. the only fair and balanced thing to do at times like this is to store fluids in preparation to piss on breitbart’s grave and hope that mid-autopsy the attending pathologist has the presense of mind to play “that’s the way uh huh uh huh i like it” on breitbart’s newly hollowed chest cavity.

    kc and the sunshine band

  38. 38
    BruceJ says:

    Boots Day just posted what I was going to say. He is what he is, and no false civility can possibly make up for it. Hitler was reportedly kind to his dogs, you know…

    Breitbart and his gang of ratfuckers hurt a lot of real people again and again, for the lulz and bux and political gain.

    There’s a consequence to doing evil in your life, and one of them is that your passing is regarded with relief.

    Fuck him, fuck him and the horse he rode in on.

  39. 39
    DonkeyKong says:

    To “honor” his temperament and indulgences, I’d say he bellied up to the karova milk bar one too may times.

    Appy-polly-loggies. I had something of a pain in the gulliver so had to sleep. I was not awakened when I gave orders for wakening.

  40. 40
    LT says:

    Thanks for remaining a class act, John.

  41. 41
    Mark S. says:

    @Boots Day:

    Bretibart didn’t just damage some inchoate entity called “teh left.” He damaged people’s lives, American lives. He did this not in pursuit of some larger good but in the crazed belief that ACORN and some random USDA official in Georgia were exercising tyranny over the right kind of Americans. This nation is better off without him.

    This. It’s not like if Bobo or Chunky Bobo died. I disagree with those guys’ opinions but they don’t go out of their way to fuck over ordinary people who are just trying to get by. That’s what Breitbart and his buttboy O’Keefe did for a living. All for the purpose of promoting an evil and selfish ideology. Fuck him.

  42. 42
    PeakVT says:

    Many of our most important conservative public figures have gained their influence and power by inciting and exploiting the ugliest of passions

    Improvified.

  43. 43
    Elizabelle says:

    @Cowbelle:

    Always wanted to say that I truly love your screen name.

  44. 44
    Hawes says:

    I think you can honestly assess a person in an obit, even a eulogy. And an honest assessment of Breitbart is not kind to him.

    But the “reverse Marc Antony” Frum pulls is a better way to do it.

    I refuse to let Breitbart drag me down into his gutter, even in death. His last act should not be to make us as bad as him. He was a bright red stain on his “profession” (if that’s what it was).

    Let his family grieve him.

    After today, let the rest of us ignore him.

  45. 45
    gaz says:

    I don’t see any purpose in getting my jollies trashing the guy as he is dead and can no longer defend himself

    You mean like the very much alive and defenseless poor people he’s fucked over w/ the ACORN crap? (not to mention tons of other vile shit he’s pulled)

    I piss on his grave. I hope his children get a decent step-father.

    But I’ll only hold my tongue for people that had humanity.

    I afford Breitbart as much respect in death as I did Lee Atwater. I hope it hurt like hell.

  46. 46
    Marc says:

    People can change, for good or ill. He could have made a differences for the better if he had a road to Damascus moment, and he had the talent and energy to carry something like that through. George Wallace is a good example – his net legacy was negative, but he did some real good late in his career (with significant African-American backing.) The death of someone old is the way of the world, while the death of someone (relatively) young is sadder because of the possibilities lost.

  47. 47
    different-church-lady says:

    What are we to say of this cohort, this group, this generation? That their mothers loved them? That their families are bereaved? That their fans admired them and their employees treated generously by them?

    I mean, what are they gonna say when he’s gone? ‘Cause he dies when it dies, when it dies, he dies! What are they gonna say about him? He was a kind man? He was a wise man? He had plans? He had wisdom? Bullshit, man!

  48. 48
    different-church-lady says:

    @Hawes: “reverse Marc Antony”: just what I was thinking. He damns Bretibart by granting him potential he never earned in life.

  49. 49
    jrg says:

    I always felt kind of sorry for him. He seemed mentally ill to me.

  50. 50

    I feel about Breitbart the way I felt when I learned that Jerry Falwell and Jesse Helms had died: I knew I should feel bad for them in a way, since they wasted their lives and their gifts so badly, and their families and friends were mourning, si I knew I should feel bad for them, too. Only I couldn’t. I knew I should have, and I wanted to, but I couldn’t. Or rather I didn’t want to, but I wanted to want to. I stopped short of saying “Good riddance” or anything like that, but I felt it inside. As our host here says, I want to be better than that; I want to be better than the people I named above, all three of them. But it’s hard sometimes. I guess this is one of those times when you feel tested to really rise above what you behold. I don’t know whether I can do that today, so I guess the best thing to do is not say anything (at least nothing further than the random meanderings I’ve already put down here).

  51. 51
    different-church-lady says:

    Andrew Breitbart was an innovator and inventor, a man who as much as any shaped the media culture of the Internet age.

    You know who else was an innovator? HITLLLL… aww, screw it.

  52. 52
    dianne says:

    They say rage releases a hormone that causes a “flight or fight” reaction which causes a blood pressure spike and all sorts of bad stuff happens. After seeing that video at the CPAC convention, so completely out of control, he was a prime candidate to drop in his tracks and it looks like he did. I wonder if he ever tried to get help.

  53. 53
    TooManyJens says:

    @Boots Day:

    Bretibart didn’t just damage some inchoate entity called “teh left.” He damaged people’s lives, American lives.

    Thank you.

  54. 54
    Egg Berry says:

    Apparently, like that other asshole Uncle Pat Buchanan, Andrew Breitbart was just a raging asshole to people he didn’t know, but a great guy at all the cocktail parties.

    Meh. Fuck that shit.

  55. 55
    Delia says:

    The sad thing is, there will be a hundred others eager to step up and take his place.

  56. 56
  57. 57
    Dan says:

    If you’re searching for something kind to say about the guy first remember that he was probably suffering from depression and mental illness, which are burdensome to the people that the sufferer comes into contact with but affect no one more than the bearer himself. Ignore the fact that he would deny every word of it.

  58. 58
    zach says:

    “I don’t see any purpose in getting my jollies trashing the guy as he is dead and can no longer defend himself, and I really think that when you can’t wait to spit on someone’s grave, it doesn’t reflect badly on them.”

    Ditto. I can’t think of anyone whose death I’d celebrate… the bin Laden stuff even bugged me. However, it’s disgusting to see that Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney were compelled within hours of the news to applaud him for his wonderful accomplishments. Perhaps Mittens is mostly impressed that Breitbart shares his ability to make mountains of money by stealing others’ work and adding no value to the world. The only reason everyone’s ever heard of Breitbart is because he’s spent every moment since around Spring 2009 flat-out making up racist stories and yelling at people about them.

  59. 59
    ReflectedSky says:

    This is why I’m hooked on this site. I would never have seen the Frum piece otherwise. I also appreciated many of the commenters’ improvements and corrections.

    I suspect it will turn out that he was alcoholic. That wouldn’t excuse his horrible, toxic, public behavior. As the child of alcoholics, I think I can testify that booze doesn’t make you reactionary, racist or a lot of other terrible things that people in public life like to pretend can be attributed to alcohol. But it can turn people into out-of-control assholes. I still find his death sad (because he was young, he wasted his life, and left behind young children as well as a horrible legacy), although as the gathering storm of far-right mythologizing picks up speed, I suspect I’ll get over it.

  60. 60
    Aaron Baker says:

    Kind of conflicted here.

    I agree with most posters on this site (and with Mr. Frum) that Breitbart’s effect on the country was poisonous. He harmed many people: Shirley Sherrod and all the beneficiaries of ACORN, to name just the most obvious victims. Frum suggests that the racialized element in his attacks was tactical rather than arising from genuine racism. Perhaps he’s right; but does it matter? Given our terrible history in matters of race, to exploit racist sentiments without yourself believing in them doesn’t make you one whit better (in fairness to Frum: I’m not sure he was suggesting that it did).

    So, a very bad man in many respects. But the reminder from John Cole to consider our own faults when assessing someone else’s is muting what I might have said beyond that. I’m not sufficiently unlike the guy (prone as I am to long-lived, obsessive hatreds) to be entirely comfortable in high dudgeon.

    I guess I’ll just finish by extending my sympathies to his family.

  61. 61
    JPK says:

    Nicely done, Cole

  62. 62
    Boots Day says:

    @zach: However, it’s disgusting to see that Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney were compelled within hours of the news to applaud him for his wonderful accomplishments.

    What exactly are they claiming as Breitbart’s accomplishments? Aside from James O’Keefe, can anyone point to a single person in this country who is better off because of what Andrew Breitbart did for them?

    Breitbart engaged in what James B. Stewart called Blood Sport, the pastime of harming random people just because he could, and because it made him famous. That’s what makes him so poisonous: There was no higher purpose, even one that most of us would strongly disagree with, behind his public attacks. The guy was just malevolent.

  63. 63
    pseudonymous in nc says:

    @Aaron Baker:

    I agree with most posters on this site (and with Mr. Frum) that Breitbart’s effect on the country was poisonous.

    Made poisonous by a wider media climate that was happy to incorporate his stunts and ADHD-fuelled bullshit into their narratives. CNN didn’t have to hire Dana the Lush; the networks and big papers didn’t have to treat Rape Boat O’Queef as a respectable investigative reporter.

  64. 64
    shortstop says:

    I have trouble understanding this mystical attitude toward death, this vague idea that it should confer respect and warm, or at least neutral, feeling upon everyone who passes through that portal, regardless of how they lived their lives.

    I don’t think it’s objectively true that declining to speak ill of the dead makes one a “better person.” I think people who don’t speak ill of the dead need for some reason to believe that it does, but I don’t think it’s self-evident. When Ted Kennedy died and the right, including Breitbart, poured its anger and contempt onto him, I wasn’t offended. I was intrigued by the idea that this group of people couldn’t look at the whole of Kennedy’s life and see that he had accomplished an enormous amount of positive change — change that measurably made a lot of Americans’ lives a hell of a lot better — that had to be considered alongside his leaving Mary Jo Kopechne to die in that car. Those people seemed to me to be guilty of enormous failures of analysis, honesty and perspective.

    That’s what we do when we talk about people who have died, recently or not. We remember who they were and what they did with their lives. Everyone is a mix of good and bad, but the percentages of each vary wildly from person to person, as does the good faith he or she exhibits in trying to make amends for wrongs. Unless one believes that because we’re all imperfect, no comment can be made about actions others have taken that massively harm others, there is quite naturally going to be discussion about the negative aspects of the recent farm purchaser. If that person is seen as having behaved almost exclusively negatively (at least in the public arena) and/or acted to cause a very large amount of harm to many, that’s going to be commented upon.

    If the unwritten or openly stated rules are “You can remark upon the fact that this person died, you can offer sympathy to his family and you may opine on anything he did in his life, as long as it’s positive,” that’s not remembering someone. That’s not showing respect for the dead person. It’s just paying homage to this idea of death as the Thing That Magically Disallows Honest Appraisal.

  65. 65
    Americanitis1 says:

    Mr. Cole, this is by far the best post/article I’ve read about this scumbag’s passing all day. Thanks for this.

  66. 66
    EJ says:

    @Hawes:

    His last act should not be to make us as bad as him.

    Oh spare us the sanctimonious bullshit. Nobody here (that I know of) made a lucrative career out of deliberately fucking over good people in the service of a demented ideology. AB was a destructive, vicious thug and pointing that out is not sinking to his level.

  67. 67
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    @shortstop:

    I have trouble understanding this mystical attitude toward death, this vague idea that it should confer respect and warm, or at least neutral, feeling upon everyone who passes through that portal, regardless of how they lived their lives.

    It is the one thing that above all else we all have in common. If we can’t show at least a smidgeon of empathy for somebody (and for the bereaved surviving friends and family that they leave behind) over that, then we don’t have any basis left for sharing a sense of common humanity with them. Now some people [insert Godwin here] are so vile, so evil, that as a result of their own actions they’ve already severed that thread. But I think it is appropriate that we reserve that sanction for the really bad cases and not just routinely apply it to common garden-variety crooks and liars.

    The whole point of common decency is that it is, well, common, so we have something left in our quiver of outrage to deal with the really exceptional cases.

  68. 68
    shortstop says:

    @ThatLeftTurnInABQ: But what you said has nothing to do with what I said. It’s perfectly possible to feel sorry for someone losing his or her life, and for the family he or she’s left behind, without declining to say anything negative about that person. Again, is your definition of “empathy” and “common humanity” really “say nothing but positive things about the person who’s gone”? Really?

  69. 69
    kc says:

    John, I like how you trash Breitbart right after saying you’re not going to trash him.

    Don’t feel bad about it. He was a mean, spiteful asshole.

  70. 70
    kc says:

    Btw, Frum’s “measured and outstanding” piece (at the least the part you quoted) also trashes Breitbart – it just does it with purty words.

  71. 71
    tomvox1 says:

    Sure, I feel bad for his kids. They had no choice of who their father would be. But his wife? Not so much. No more than I would the widow of some tin pot dictator or career white collar criminal if they kicked the bucket. She made her choices and she must have known he was a scumbag. But she still married him. Feeling bad for Breitbart’s wife is like feeling bad for Imelda Marcos or Callista Gingrich. Boo fuckity hoo.

  72. 72
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    @shortstop:

    I think it has to do with the timing of when we speak out. There is time for everything, including expressing one’s opinion of a public figure. My understanding of the traditional stricture not to speak ill of the dead was that one observed what used to be called a decent interval, which was related to the period of mourning during which the deceased person’s friends and family would be going through their own period of loss, grief and bereavement. Holding one’s rhetorical fire during that period of time was a way of showing both respect for the living and also respect for the presumptive wishes of the dead, that they would not have wanted their survivors to have to deal with a settling of accounts right after their passing. Eventually a time would come for the latter, but not just right now.

    Unfortunately these traditional social mores are a very poor fit for our here-today-gone-tomorrow ADHD mass media culture in which the immediate period right after somebody famous has died is the only time during which any sort of discussion of their life is going to occur, because after that hey, what’s that! It’s a boy in a balloon! ZOMG! Balloon-Boy! The helicopters are not laughing!.

    So now we have something of an irreconcilable conflict between deeply entrenched traditional social mores which were based on a slower paced society, and a media culture which imposes a very narrow window of time during which a public figure’s hagiography is hashed out, for the political benefit or woe of that person’s supporters and enemies. I don’t know what the best solution is to this dilemma.

  73. 73
    Comrade Scrutinizer says:

    Fuck ‘im. He was trash.

  74. 74
    kc says:

    On the one hand, I suppose it is a shame that Breitbart died before he could have redeemed himself (not that there’s any guarantee he would have ever done so).

    On the other hand, at least he won’t be able to ruin any more careers.

  75. 75
    Schlemizel says:

    He’s as much an architect of the tea party sickness infecting our body politic as anyone, so there really is no reason to trash the guy. His legacy does that by itself.

    bullshit John. the evil he did, the death of Acorn & personal destruction of Ms. Brown will live on damaging lives and enriching the wingnut bastards for years. the angelic glow pasted on by the fucking bastard will make him a good guy into the future. No amount of trashing the prick now will compensate for that.

    I stopped trying to be “decent” with people like Dimbart when they stopped trying to be decent people even within the bounds of politics as usual. They have not earned it, don’t deserve it, won’t reciprocate it and laugh at. They have destroyed this country in ways my grandchildren will still be paying for and I am not a big enough man to forgive them for that. Fuck them with a rusty cactus.

  76. 76

    @Marc:

    People can change, for good or ill. He could have made a differences for the better if he had a road to Damascus moment, and he had the talent and energy to carry something like that through.

    Yeah, I’d cancel the grave-dancing if he did have such a moment. But he died first, so fuck him.

  77. 77
    Ruckus says:

    John
    For most people I agree that trashing them when they die is just, well little. It doesn’t make one a better person or anything like it.

    But…
    You knew there was going to be a but didn’t you. This is a man who seemed to spend his entire life or at least his public life being a dick. And not just your run of the mill dick, a huge, obnoxious, objectionist, full on hater of a dick. His family may deserve better, we deserved better, but he didn’t.

  78. 78
    Piss On His Grave says:

    Oh fk all of that bullshite !!!

    the azzhole was a complete dooshbag !!!

    glad he is gone and we do not have to put with his drivel and azzholery anymore !!!

    we’re gonna piss on his grave every chance we get !!!

  79. 79
    dollared says:

    Frum is a perfect example of what it meant to have an “American Consensus.” That torture is bad. The the budget needs to be balanced over time. That Keynesian economics works. That scientists are more objective than oil companies. That regulators should not take jobs in regulated industries. That investment banks should not steal from their customers. That public discourse has to be based on good faith belief in a set of verifiable facts and good faith interest in the well being of the country. Etc.

    Frum shares much blame for where the Republicans ended up. But at least he remembers where the boundaries are – or used to be.

  80. 80
  81. 81
    Ruckus says:

    You want to honor or at least respect this person because he died? He didn’t want to honor you for being alive and I’ll bet he wouldn’t have given you any respect for dying. Why? Because he hated you. And me, and anyone else to the left of Attila the Hun. Not just thought we were wrong, hated. He would have hated me and we’ve never met.
    That’s why I don’t respect him, he never respected anyone who disagreed with him in any way. How do I know that? He proved it every time he opened his mouth.

  82. 82
    My Truth Hurts says:

    Dying of natural causes at 43 is the best argument anyone could make for Universal Healthcare. Thank you for sacrificing yourself for the cause, Andrew Breitbart.

  83. 83
    EJ says:

    @ThatLeftTurnInABQ:

    Holding one’s rhetorical fire during that period of time was a way of showing both respect for the living and also respect for the presumptive wishes of the dead, that they would not have wanted their survivors to have to deal with a settling of accounts right after their passing.

    For ferchrissake, you condescending twit, we’re not gonna go up to his kids and tell them their dad was an asshole. We’re commenting on a blog they most assuredly don’t read. And I’m pretty sure his loved ones already know that if they don’t want to read mean things about him, don’t Google his name.

    Was I actively wishing him dead? Of course not. But we’re supposed to not comment that America is better of without him lest we offend, who exactly? You and your sophisticated and refined manners?

  84. 84
    priscianusjr says:

    @cintibud:

    “What are they gonna say about him? What are they gonna say? That he was a kind man? That he was a wise man? That he had plans, man? That he had wisdom? Bullshit, man! ”

    None of the above. They’re saying that he “lived his passion.”

    Which is true, and almost sounds good — until you consider what his passion actually was.

  85. 85
    Quaker in a Basement says:

    I try to steer close to Mr. Clemens’ etiquette for the observance of departures. The nub of it is this: the deceased is beyond caring about our evaluation of his worthiness. Whatever our estimation of him, we shouldn’t economize our wishes for the consolation of his family. They deserve comfort in the difficult days ahead.

  86. 86
    samara morgan says:

    @Quaker in a Basement: no they dont. the children and wives and husbands of the people he screwed over deserve comfort.
    fuck the sully style hagiography.
    breitbart was a shitstain on humanities underpants.
    he devoted his life to “taking back culture” without knowing what culture was. he ruined peoples lives and suborned the political discourse of a once-great nation with lies and cheap tricks.
    Dont dignify him in death– let his children grow up to be shamed by what he was.

  87. 87
    samara morgan says:

    @Elizabelle:

    I wondered if Breitbart might have tempered over time.

    he was getting obviously worse. any physician that saw the clip of him screaming STOP RAPING at the Occupy protestors would have suspected vascular dementia.
    Praps the Kocks had him whacked before he could destroy his own brand.

  88. 88
    Calming Influence says:

    May his wife work through her grief, and live a long and fulfilling life. And may his children grow up healthy and strong, and learn, love and live with great gusto.

    But as ye sow so shall ye reap. Through dishonesty and deceit, and with pretty obvious malice aforethought, he destroyed Acorn; an organization that helped hundreds of thousands of people, without any apparent regard for the families and children that would suffer as a result. Through dishonesty and deceit, and again with pretty obvious malice aforethought, he attempted to destroy the career of Shirley Sherrod, without any apparent regard to the effect it would have on her family.

    If Andrew Breitbart had been the blowhard at the local watering hole, I’d be totally with the “speak no ill…” crowd.

    But here’s the math: this asshole hurt a zillion-fold more people with his actions and words while he was alive than I’m going to hurt by saying he was an asshole when he’s dead.

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