Talk Radio host Bill Bennett explains his own scrappy nature by pointing out he is an Irishman. He then tells the story of the Irishman who happens upon a fight, muscles his way into the middle, and asks: “Is this a private fight, or can anyone join in?” Fighting is just part of his nature, you see.
With a name like Breitbart, you wouldn’t imagine he was Irish, but he was. Adopted by a Jewish couple, Andrew grew up in the Westwood section of Los Angeles with an adopted Hispanic sister. He said he was a “default liberal” who grew up in West L.A. listening to alternative rock. He drank more than he studied in college and graduated with fewer skills than when he went in. His ideological conversion began when his father cut off the funding of this lifestyle, and Andrew had to get a real job. “I believe that walking for the first time in shoes that I bought, started … my path towards conservatism,” he told us during a Heritage talk in April 2011.
Much like David Mamet, Dennis Miller, David Horowitz and other former liberals “mugged by reality,” Andrew said he was outraged by the hypocritical display of liberalism.
Those who saw Andrew only on FoxNews may assume that he was always outraged. After all, much of what his Web sites Breitbart.com, BigGovernment, BigHollywood, BigJournalism, and BigPeace have uncovered is outrageous.
But, Andrew was also a great friend and inspiration to so many in the freedom movement—young investigative reporters, conservatives and libertarians in Hollywood, students on liberal campuses, Tea Party activists from every corner of the country, and all those who’ve decided they’re outraged too.
The first occasion I had to see Andrew in action over several days was at a Tea Party convention in Nashville in early 2010. He was already a bit of a rock star in this community and swarmed by the media who had turned out in droves to hear Sarah Palin. You could also find him in the middle of groups of tea partiers answering questions. There were flag-wearing contingents who had arrived from the Midwest, couples who’d driven down from New Jersey and Pennsylvania, activists from California, Florida, and all points in between. They were all invigorated by their conversations with Andrew, and they told you about them. These were worried folks looking for answers to how we could turn our country around. Andrew inspired. He assured them that these were not private fights in Washington. We were all supposed to join in.
One evening he introduced the packed Nashville ballroom to his good friend—“a great American patriot and a tea party attendee” —singer Jon David who performed an original song that night. “American Heart” brought the crowd to cheers and tears. Hearing the stunning news about Andrew’s passing this morning, I thought about this song and how the refrain summed up Andrew’s optimistic scrappy nature so well:
I’m American made
I’ve got American parts
I’ve got American faith
In America’s Heart
Go on raise a flag
Cause I got stars in my eyes
Oh, I’m in love with her
And, I won’t apologize
His memory will live on in those who have been inspired to join the fight. Andrew Breitbart, RIP.