I would wager that none of Andrew Breitbart's friends (and a good many of his enemies) can imagine him resting in peace, because he never seemed to rest, period. I, who never met him, was shocked to hear of his very sudden death at the age of 43, leaving behind a wife and four young children. Many of those who knew him thought the early reports were a hoax-which they wouldn't put beyond Breitbart, whose methods were bold and unorthodox-but sadly, it's all true.
He was a media pioneer, one secret of Matt Drudge's success and one of the creators of the Huffington Post. The blogs launched under his own name-Big Hollywood, Big Government, Big Journalism, and Big Peace (as well Breitbart TV)-were heavy hitters from the start. His ADD personality plus the internet were a match made in media heaven. In an interview with GQ last year, he confessed that he wouldn't have known what to do with himself without cyberspace. He would have figured out something, though. All ages have their Breitbarts; they're those outsized personalities who give us a clue about human potential, the ones who discover continents, build commercial empires, start new religions, or take over small Latin American countries. But providentially for him, and for us, God put him on the cutting edge of the information revolution.
As tributes and recollections pour in, the words "fearless" and "warrior" pop up again and again. They obviously apply, but I think of Breitbart as a buccaneer of the high cyber-seas, sailing under letters of marque from the conservative movement, boarding liberal flagships and taking prizes. Some of his attempts failed or faltered, but he crippled ACORN (at least temporarily), harried Planned Parenthood, and took down Anthony Weiner. He was known for wading into crowds of protestors and challenging their mindless slogans while they tried to shout him down.
Another thought comes to mind: George Orwell's observation that "People sleep peacefully in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf." Andrew Breitbart was not violent and never threatened physical harm to anybody, but he roughed up plenty of feelings, and saw no need for subtlety or nuance. He told GQ's Lisa DePaulo, "My battle is not just with the left, to demand the other point of view, my mission is to wake up those on the other side. The fight that they're losing is being lost on the cultural front. They'd win it on the political front in a nanosecond if they attempted to fight it on the cultural front."
While doing my own little bit in the culture war, it was good to know that if there was an outrage to expose, a lie to unmask, an emperor to embarrass, Breitbart would be on it. His life is in the hands of a greater judge, but the world felt a little safer with him in it.