I met Andrew Breitbart three weeks ago. We both were on a Huckabee Show panel that subsequently got bumped when news of Whitney Houston’s death broke. I’m not terribly sorry, it wasn’t one of my best. But the chemistry between us was pretty good, off-camera at least. After the show I texted him and he said we should try to set up a debate again.
Now he’s dead, and it’s all pretty shocking to me because four weeks ago, Andrew Breitbart would have been in the running for people I would be least concerned about if they happened to die. And it’s not like I had any kind of political conversion, and I don’t have a particular soft spot for saying nice things about dead people just because they died.
So why in the hell am I about to say something nice-ish about Andrew Breitbart?
All of my liberal friends wanted to know one thing about Breitbart after I met him: was he crazy? At first, I was worried about pretty much the same thing. I made a point to talk to him backstage, because if he was a loose cannon who might go googoo gaga on television, I wasn’t going to sit there like a dark skinned Alan Colmes. I’ll throw my crazy down on the table with anybody else’s crazy, any day of the week.
But Breitbart was only crazy like a rutting bull is crazy. There’s a lot of stomping and snarling, but it’s mainly for effect. As soon as I told him what I did for a living, we immediately dropped the “conservative/liberal” dichotomy and started talking about what he eventually called “the performance art of blogging.” We talked about the legal audience versus the general public. He said that he thought law was an excellent background for writers. I said it was tough for bloggers because law studies “tend to make one overly concerned with… precise facts.” He asked me how I overcame that, I said “probably the same way you do,” and we laughed. I learned at least two keeper points about blogging from him in an hour. The man knew the business.
Which isn’t to say he didn’t believe every controversial, or straight bats*** comment that came out of his mouth. I didn’t detect any artifice in his beliefs, beliefs that I would spend the proverbial lifetime standing opposed. But he was just a guy who knew how to amplify his beliefs to draw maximum attention to them. It’s a skill. I wouldn’t have used the skill in quite the same way for near the same purpose, but I can respect the underlying talent.
Of course, I only spent an hour with the man. What I took away from our meeting was to remember that there’s a huge difference between having a point and getting anyone to listen to it. Breitbart did the latter part brilliantly.