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Robert Novak, RIP

I feel less adequate to eulogize Robert Novak than I have for anyone else whose passing I have noticed in this journal. He was an elder statesman of Washington pundits and a truly great man. I first discovered him watching CNN, but he'd had a very long career before that. Since 1963 he and Rowland Evans had published the Evans-Novak report.

He was a  staunch conservative. He'd voted for Eisenhower in a GOP primary, but in his autobiography expressed regret that he didn't vote for the more conservative Robert Taft. Novak wore  the conservative jersey fairly well, but as a jersey, not a straight jacket. He would occasionally depart from the conservative crowd. He was critical of the sting operation used to bring down DC mayor Marion Barry in 1990 (and even voted for Barry!). He was also one of the few conservative critics of the Iraq War, a position that caught him quite a bit of flak from his peers (especially rat bastard David Frum, who named him as one of several "unpatriotic conservatives" in a National Review hit piece.) It shouldn't have...a case could be made that, among ithe war's  other nasty side effects, damn near destroyed the GOP. (I realize  most of the people on my friends list would call that a benefit, not a nasty side effect.)

He was also put in the spotlight by the Valerie Plame matter. I refuse to say scandal.  Despite all the protestations to the contrary, Plame was not an undercover agent. She'd already been outed by Aldrich Ames. There was talk that this was all an attempt to punish Joseph Wilson for his criticism of the war effort, but given Novak's own opposition this is fairly ridiculous.

His nickname around Washington was "The Prince Of Darkness". This was in reference to his dark, pessimistic outlook on the world, not a comparison to Satan. He must have been fairly happy with this moniker, since it is the title of his 2007 autobiography. I read it shortly after it came out and it is probably the best political memoir I've ever read. It is more than just a memoir. Since he had been covering Washington for a huge chunk of his adult life, it reads like a history of America over the last half of the 20th century. I would recommend it even to those  who don't share Novak's political views.

Rest in peace, Mr.Novak, and thanks for all your hard work, eloquence, and courage. We'll never see anyone like you again.