Robert Novak, RIP (1931-2009)

posted at 12:15 pm on August 18, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

Robert Novak, a giant in political reporting and punditry who crossed swords with people across the entire political spectrum, has passed away today at 78.  Kenneth Tomlinson eulogizes his former colleague at Human Events this morning, in a column that must be read in full:

Throughout my life, I followed Bob Novak journalism like I followed the careers of my favorite sports figures. Later, as editor-in-chief of Reader’s Digest, I would become one of Novak’s nominal bosses, though the fact was that every time I worked with him or was associated with him in any way, it was I who felt privileged. Few journalists have ever affected this country like Bob Novak. …

The fact is that Novak, as he would disclose in his autobiography, actually admired very few politicians. He wrote that he found the first politicians he covered less impressive than the athletic coaches he had covered as a young reporter — “an impression of the political class that did not change appreciably in a half-century of sustained contact.”

But then, many big-time politicians didn’t like Novak. Pat Buchanan relates a priceless story of being with Richard Nixon in the mid-’60s in a high-school gym in Indiana. Nixon peeked through the stage curtain, finding Novak in the first row of the press section. “Look at him,” Nixon commanded. “That’s Bob Novak. That’s the enemy.”

One of the few exceptions would be New York Congressman Jack Kemp, a close relationship that would grow from Novak’s magnificent obsession about supply-side economics that one day would have profound influence on the American economy. They genuinely liked each other.

Novak was the journalistic godfather of the supply-side movement, and his columns gave political legitimacy to Kemp’s 30% tax-rate cut proposal that would, at the 11th hour, make it into Ronald Reagan’s 1980 campaign offerings.

Novak was an unapologetic warrior for his beliefs as a pundit, having spent decades building his credibility as a journalist.  Nicknamed “the Prince of Darkness”, a title he proudly used for his memoirs, Novak did not mince words or suffer fools lightly.  He became one of the premier conservative pundits in the US, but did not hesitate to criticize the Right — or to do so with brutal honesty — when he felt it was running off the rails.  He blasted the McCain campaign for misleading him on the running-mate selection process last summer, for instance.  A couple of months before that, he ripped the GOP for feeding at the public trough on ag subsidies while claiming the mantle of fiscal discipline.

It was just a little over a year ago that Novak announced that he had inoperable and terminal brain cancer.  He retired from most of his work, but that lasted only a few weeks before he began penning columns once again.  Novak had an indefatigable spirit and a drive that would have shamed men in perfect health half his age.  Unfortunately, Novak didn’t have much time left.

RIP, Mr. Novak, and thank you.


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FIRST!

Rip Mr. Novak.

Apologetic California on August 18, 2009 at 12:16 PM

yes, rest in peace, Bob

You were a good Voice for a lot of people for a long time

Janos Hunyadi on August 18, 2009 at 12:17 PM

RIP

SPGuy on August 18, 2009 at 12:17 PM

Godspeed, sir. The conservative movement has lost a giant today.

MadisonConservative on August 18, 2009 at 12:17 PM

Thanks for commentary over the years and shedding light on various national and domestic affairs.

Journalism will miss you.

RIP

KevinA on August 18, 2009 at 12:17 PM

What a rich life he had. He gave until the end. God bless and comfort the Novak family in their grief.

conservative pilgrim on August 18, 2009 at 12:18 PM

St. Peter should have some fun meeting the Prince of Darkness at the Pearly Gates. RIP.

Mr. D on August 18, 2009 at 12:18 PM

Rest in Peace, Mr. Novak. I remember the Sunday mornings when I was a kid when my dad would put on The McLachlan Group (or as I called it at the time, “The yelly-screamy show”). He was very endering in his honesty and his simple statements of truth, and will be very much missed.

DrAllecon on August 18, 2009 at 12:19 PM

RIP, Mr. Novak. We’ll likely never see another one like him.

JammieWearingFool on August 18, 2009 at 12:19 PM

A good, decent man of integrity.

John the Libertarian on August 18, 2009 at 12:20 PM

Godspeed, sir. The conservative movement has lost a giant today.

MadisonConservative on August 18, 2009 at 12:17 PM

Indeed, but we will prevail. We’ve learned a lot from our giants.

SouthernGent on August 18, 2009 at 12:20 PM

One thing that I have learned from a close friend is that brain cancer is not painful. That’s a blessing.

AnninCA on August 18, 2009 at 12:21 PM

You did it your way and made them sit up and take notice.You will be missed (RIP Prince of Darkness)

thmcbb on August 18, 2009 at 12:21 PM

RIP, Prince of Darkness

d1carter on August 18, 2009 at 12:21 PM

Wow, I was a huge Jack Kemp acolyte and I don’t remember Novak having that much influence in popularizing Kemp’s ideas. Even more reason to mourn his passing.

I’m mostly grateful to him for many smackdowns of that moron Eleanor Clift on “The McLaughlin Group” and of Margaret Carlson on “Crossfire.” I don’t think any liberal ever got the better of him on one of those TV debate shows.

rockmom on August 18, 2009 at 12:22 PM

Peace and comfort to his family.

redwhiteblue on August 18, 2009 at 12:23 PM

God Bless you Mr. Novak. Prayers for your friends and family.

ihasurnominashun on August 18, 2009 at 12:23 PM

what a difference between Novak and Cronkite….one is a lying liberal tool and the other a class act….

SDarchitect on August 18, 2009 at 12:23 PM

Rest in peace, sir. God Bless.

SueM on August 18, 2009 at 12:24 PM

My condolences to his wife and family. We have lost a good man and a terrific mind today.

Laura in Maryland on August 18, 2009 at 12:24 PM

Journalism is now officially dead.

RIP Bob, you will be missed here in Chicago.

Knucklehead on August 18, 2009 at 12:25 PM

God Bless Him.

rob verdi on August 18, 2009 at 12:25 PM

Peace to the family.

ICBM on August 18, 2009 at 12:26 PM

RIP, though we need your voice today more than ever.

“Look at him,” Nixon commanded. “That’s Bob Novak. That’s the enemy.”

And to the Nixon/Rockefeller big government wing of the GOP, he was the enemy.

rbj on August 18, 2009 at 12:27 PM

RIP

If only journalists on the left had the integrity of Novak’s pinky finger, we’d be 1000 times better for it.

kirkill on August 18, 2009 at 12:28 PM

Good man, great patriot. I won’t mention his views on Israel on this occasion.

Posters should, if they get a chance, read his foreword to the most recently published version of Whittaker Chamber’s Witness. Very good.
.
He converted to Catholicism late in life. Anti-communist throughout his life. Interesting that he was known as a moderate Democrat – big supporter of JFK – up until Reagan.

SteveMG on August 18, 2009 at 12:29 PM

Condolences to the Novak family and his friends. He was a great reporter, columnist, and conservative. RIP.

cubachi on August 18, 2009 at 12:30 PM

A powerful voice gone. God bless his family. He will be missed.

Cindy Munford on August 18, 2009 at 12:30 PM

One of the primary mentors in my conservative path. Rest in peace.

Vashta.Nerada on August 18, 2009 at 12:31 PM

My comment from the Headline[s] Section:

God’s finger touched him and he slept.

Lord Alfred Tennyson

R.I.P. My sincere condolences to his family and friends.

CPT. Charles on August 18, 2009 at 12:31 PM

Journalism as we have known it, has officially passed away.

God bless you and your family Mr. Novak.

uknowmorethanme on August 18, 2009 at 12:31 PM

Godspeed, Mr. Novak.

Thank you for the many years of excellence in true journalism.

Dr.Cwac.Cwac on August 18, 2009 at 12:31 PM

Godspeed, Mr. Novak. You will be sorely missed.

Prayers to the family in their time of mourning.

MsUnderestimated on August 18, 2009 at 12:31 PM

Requiem in Pacem.

Akzed on August 18, 2009 at 12:31 PM

He became one of the premier conservative pundits in the US,

Does a great disservice to a great commentator, though I understand your statement and the following words. I think this is more appropriate for him, few could have this title.
*
He was a premier American pundit…
*
He did not regurgitate the “talking points” of the day, so few, so very few, are following in his footsteps.
*

right2bright on August 18, 2009 at 12:32 PM

From the right, he’s Bob Novak.

RIP

Ted Torgerson on August 18, 2009 at 12:32 PM

Folks like Novak set the journalist standards pretty high. He’ll be missed.

scalleywag on August 18, 2009 at 12:33 PM

Godspeed, sir. The conservative movement has lost a giant today.

MadisonConservative on August 18, 2009 at 12:17 PM

If (we, as conservatives) have seen further it is only by standing on the shoulders of giants.

-Sir Isaac Newton

NickelAndDime on August 18, 2009 at 12:33 PM

A great man who will be missed. He always was well spoken and had something intelligent to say.

bill30097 on August 18, 2009 at 12:34 PM

I first saw him, and didn’t think I would like him. Then, I heard him talk. I’ll always admire the man, and he should be sorely missed. I just hope the left does not take this as another opportunity to show how little class they have by attacking him, post-mortem.

Virus-X on August 18, 2009 at 12:35 PM

Wow, I was a huge Jack Kemp acolyte and I don’t remember Novak having that much influence in popularizing Kemp’s ideas. Even more reason to mourn his passing.

I’m mostly grateful to him for many smackdowns of that moron Eleanor Clift on “The McLaughlin Group” and of Margaret Carlson on “Crossfire.” I don’t think any liberal ever got the better of him on one of those TV debate shows.

rockmom on August 18, 2009 at 12:22 PM

+1

bill30097 on August 18, 2009 at 12:35 PM

Some touching words from the left:

Robert Novak is dead. Good riddance to the Douchebag of Liberty, as I believe Jon Stewart called him.

good riddance, robert novak. #deaddouchebags

Robert Novak dead. Good riddance.

Death of a douchebag

One less bad guy in the world.

I wish that Robert Novak dying erased what a bigoted scumbag he was

I guess that’s one way to be certain that Robert Novak doesn’t spew out any more deranged ranting columns or televised editorials.

Stay classy, folks.

lutherjw on August 18, 2009 at 12:39 PM

Rest in Peace, Mr. Novak. I remember the Sunday mornings when I was a kid when my dad would put on The McLachlan Group (or as I called it at the time, “The yelly-screamy show”). He was very endering in his honesty and his simple statements of truth, and will be very much missed.

DrAllecon on August 18, 2009 at 12:19 PM

Heh. That’s what I used to call “Crossfire.” Something like that anyway. I think I called it Shoutfest or something. Ironically, Robert Novak was on that show too. I remember him, Pat Buchanan, Bill Press, and James Carville being on there for years.

NathanG on August 18, 2009 at 12:40 PM

I remember when you could turn tv and watch quality news and commentary .Huntley & Brinkley,Evans & Novak RIP Bob you will be missed and remembered.

thmcbb on August 18, 2009 at 12:41 PM

Journalism as a “craft” in DC has died today.

J_Crater on August 18, 2009 at 12:42 PM

Novak told Washingtonian magazine in November that he would not hesitate to run the column again. “I’d go full speed ahead because of the hateful and beastly way in which my left-wing critics in the press and Congress tried to make a political affair out of it and tried to ruin me,” he said.

“My response now is this: The hell with you. They didn’t ruin me. I have my faith, my family and a good life. A lot of people love me — or like me. So they failed. I would do the same thing over again because I don’t think I hurt Valerie Plame whatsoever.”

Amen

RIP

Aggie85 on August 18, 2009 at 12:43 PM

Journeyman journalist, somewhat entertaining and insightful, long career. I guess he will be missed.

Jeff from WI on August 18, 2009 at 12:43 PM

RIP Mr. Novak… Thank you for everything you’ve done for the Conservative movement…

stlpatriot on August 18, 2009 at 12:43 PM

I’m against cloning…..but the passing of Bob Novak sure is testing my stance on it.

portlandon on August 18, 2009 at 12:44 PM

Stay classy, folks.

lutherjw on August 18, 2009 at 12:39 PM

It figures. Will they ever stop? I have met less than a handful of liberals that have even a hint of class, right down to my last girlfriend. It’s both pathetic and sad, and I’m really tired of it. It’s sickening, and it’s useless to say anything about it to them, because they don’t believe what they’re doing is shameful, at all; they’re too busy telling us on the Far Right that we should be ashamed of our wishing failure and shooting on Obama.

Virus-X on August 18, 2009 at 12:46 PM

A great reporter……….a great American………he’ll be missed…………

Cinday Blackburn on August 18, 2009 at 12:47 PM

What is left of “journalism” is a little less today.

R.I.P. May you find the next world better than this one.

Spiritk9 on August 18, 2009 at 12:47 PM

I just hope the left does not take this as another opportunity to show how little class they have by attacking him, post-mortem.

If they do, hopefully his close and very liberal friend Bob Shrum will stand up for him.

SoFlaCon on August 18, 2009 at 12:47 PM

Journeyman journalist

He wrote the longest running column in the history of American journalism. All while working for the same newspaper. That’s hardly a journeyman.

Whether someone liked his politics or not, that’s impressive.

SteveMG on August 18, 2009 at 12:48 PM

Godspeed thank you for all those wonderful years.

flyboy777 on August 18, 2009 at 12:48 PM

Journeyman journalist

He wrote the longest running column in the history of American journalism. All while working for the same newspaper. That’s hardly a journeyman.

Whether someone liked his politics or not, that’s impressive.

SteveMG on August 18, 2009 at 12:48 PM

(yawn) Ok,if you say so.

Jeff from WI on August 18, 2009 at 12:49 PM

Stay classy, folks.

lutherjw on August 18, 2009 at 12:39 PM

I no longer have any use for the left. I don’t even consider them a balancing factor with the ‘right’ anymore. They are useless and dead to me.

Spiritk9 on August 18, 2009 at 12:50 PM

May God bless his family

FormerEuropean on August 18, 2009 at 12:51 PM

a great american and a true patriot

Wellstoned on August 18, 2009 at 12:51 PM

Just imagine if everyone in the MSM had Mr. Novak’s integrity. To quote Louis Armstrong..”What a Wonderful World.”

JoeySlippers on August 18, 2009 at 12:52 PM

I am very, very sorry he is dead but there must be some concession to the truth therefor I must say he slandered Israel on every occasion and was a vicious critic (along with his late partner Rowland Evans) of the Jewish nation in its fight against genocidal enemies such as Hamas. Still R.I.P. – I hate for anyone (Novak, Ted Kennedy, etc.) to ever develop a brain tumor.

Hilts on August 18, 2009 at 12:53 PM

Actually, if truth be told, I found him a bit dry and uninteresting.

Jeff from WI on August 18, 2009 at 12:57 PM

God Bless. The Prince of Darkness and the Prince of Peace meet at last.

thebrokenrattle on August 18, 2009 at 12:58 PM

One of the greats, one of the few. RIP sir.

29Victor on August 18, 2009 at 12:58 PM

Stay classy, folks.

lutherjw on August 18, 2009 at 12:39 PM

Yeah, uhh, this place was all class after Walter Cronkite died.

YYZ on August 18, 2009 at 12:59 PM

RIP, Mr. Novak, and God bless your family. I wish there were more like you.

Missy on August 18, 2009 at 12:59 PM

Yeah, uhh, this place was all class after Walter Cronkite died.

YYZ on August 18, 2009 at 12:59 PM

Cronkite was a Commie that kissed Kennedy butt.

Jeff from WI on August 18, 2009 at 1:00 PM

This was a terrific appreciation from Mr. Tomlinson.

The story of a journalist. Fitting that it comes while Dan Rather is getting excoriated by his former CBS bosses for shoddy work.

originalpechanga on August 18, 2009 at 1:02 PM

Requesciat in Pacem, Robert Novak. We will never see the likes of you again.

Crashpanic on August 18, 2009 at 1:07 PM

A great man and beloved by many of us. I am truly saddened by this news.

A man of true integrity and intelligence and wit, and a man of faith.

He and his family are in my prayers. May God be with them. God rest his soul.

Elisa on August 18, 2009 at 1:09 PM

Always enjoyed his feisty columns.

Goodbye and Godspeed, Bob Novak.

AZCoyote on August 18, 2009 at 1:10 PM

RIP, Prince of Darkness

d1carter on August 18, 2009 at 12:21 PM

Mega dittos.

Texyank on August 18, 2009 at 1:10 PM

Requesciat in Pacem, Robert Novak. We will never see the likes of you again.

Crashpanic on August 18, 2009 at 1:07 PM

So true. A rare gift. He was a blessing. Yes,may he rest in peace.

Elisa on August 18, 2009 at 1:10 PM

RIP, Mr. Novak.

ABC Radio news is eulogizing Novak by repeating the lie that he was the one who outed Valerie Plame. Not a word about Armitage. Leftist scumbags are already peeing on his grave.

Western_Civ on August 18, 2009 at 1:10 PM

Can we get an obit for Katie Couric please? With Extra Mayo?

BillaryMcBush on August 18, 2009 at 1:13 PM

Actually, if truth be told, I found him a bit dry and uninteresting

Well, of course because this entire thread is about you and your views.

Anyone who viewed Novak as dry and uninteresting – in fact he was a bit of a bomb thrower and hardly ‘dry’ – is someone I can’t understand.

You can go away now.

SteveMG on August 18, 2009 at 1:14 PM

Well, he was a life long Democrat. So I don’t really care.

Jeff from WI on August 18, 2009 at 1:17 PM

Cronkite slandered thousands of patriots. Good riddance.

Nowak went after the story, no matter who it hurt–as a good journalist should (like Russert). Rest in peace–although I think some time in purgatory answering for your criticisms of Israel may be necessary.

PimFortuynsGhost on August 18, 2009 at 1:17 PM

Well, he was a life long Democrat. So I don’t really care.

Jeff from WI on August 18, 2009 at 1:17 PM

What on earth are you talking about?

Missy on August 18, 2009 at 1:17 PM

We must all march in lockstep with Steve here. Well YOU honor a DEMOCRAT, I won’t!

Jeff from WI on August 18, 2009 at 1:18 PM

Anytime Mr. Novak was on the television, I would stop what I was doing and listen to him. He had a passion for the truth that so many journalist today have lost. I will miss his wisdom.

Having said that, I need to vent. I was just listening to the radio and heard Mr. Novak’s obit by ABC News. Disgusting. Even in death, the liberals are hateful and spiteful. I am sure when ‘Senator Lion’ takes his last breath, we will not hear of his misfortunes during his long and sordid life. I am furious!

libertylady on August 18, 2009 at 1:18 PM

Novak was a registered Democrat despite his conservative political views. He held more centrist views in his early career, and he supported the Democratic presidential candidacies of John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson, of whom he was a friend.[8]

Jeff from WI on August 18, 2009 at 1:18 PM

What on earth are you talking about?

Novak was registered in DC as Democrat.

Of course anyone who knows anything about him knows that was meaningless.

The poster above cannot see the world beyond his nose.

SteveMG on August 18, 2009 at 1:19 PM

I recently saw an interview with a political journalist who was very thankful that early in his career, when he first came to Washington, he had worked for Robert Novak.

Novak essentially told him (I am quoting from memory), “If you are going to survive in this town, you have to understand one thing. Don’t go by what people say. Go by what they do. Words are easy, deeds are hard.”

Those who are just now finding themselves disillusioned with the current administration clearly never learned this lesson.

Owen Glendower on August 18, 2009 at 1:21 PM

Israeli-Palestinian conflict

Despite the fact that he himself is of Jewish ancestry, Novak has taken on a Pro-Palestinian stance.[24] In his syndicated column, Novak has blamed Israel for the plight and mass exodus of Palestinian Christians. He has also met with several Palestinian Authority officials, including former Education Minister and one of the leaders of HAMAS Naser al-Shaer. Novak praised former president Jimmy Carter for likening Israeli policy toward the Palestinians to “apartheid” in Israel.[25]

Jeff from WI on August 18, 2009 at 1:21 PM

SteveMG on August 18, 2009 at 1:19 PM

Thank you. I actually didn’t know he was registered as a Democrat. It had clearly nothing to do with his politics, not for the last thirty-some years at any rate.

Missy on August 18, 2009 at 1:23 PM

Car Accident

On July 23, 2008, Novak received a citation from police for “failing to yield a right of way” to an 86-year-old pedestrian, Don Clifford Liljenquist, who was hit by Novak’s Corvette in slow-moving traffic. Novak drove approximately one block from the scene before being flagged down by a cyclist who had witnessed the accident and subsequently called the police. Novak said that he was unaware that a collision had occurred until being informed by eyewitnesses. The pedestrian was taken to George Washington University Hospital and treated for a dislocated shoulder.[34][35][36][37]

Jeff from WI on August 18, 2009 at 1:23 PM

Great, copying-and-pasteing from Wikipedia.

Just swell…

SteveMG on August 18, 2009 at 1:23 PM

I actually didn’t know he was registered as a Democrat. It had clearly nothing to do with his politics, not for the last thirty-some years at any rate.

Sure, after all Ronald Reagan was a registered Democrat for the first 40 or so years of his life.

We judge men in full, not just parts of their lives.

SteveMG on August 18, 2009 at 1:25 PM

He wasn’t one of these nutjobs like Kristol, at least. The Neos like the National Review actually hate him for being relatively conservative unlike all of them.

The Dean on August 18, 2009 at 1:25 PM

I didn’t agree with him at all about Israel. It was a major blind spot. However, that doesn’t diminish his body of work as a journalist.

Jeff from WI, you started off on this thread “yawning” and now you seem to be scouring Wikipedia for anything negative you can find. Congrats on your Wiki-fu and all, but I don’t think anyone is particularly impressed with either your knowledge or opinion of Novak.

Missy on August 18, 2009 at 1:26 PM

Novak, Democrat, admirer of Kennedy, LBJ & Carter, anti-semite, and a good friend of Hamas

Jeff from WI on August 18, 2009 at 1:26 PM

Yeah, uhh, this place was all class after Walter Cronkite died.

YYZ on August 18, 2009 at 12:59 PM

Tell us how classy all the Left sites were when Tony Snow was diagnosed with colon cancer. And then how much compassion they should after he died.

getalife.

Del Dolemonte on August 18, 2009 at 1:27 PM

We judge men in full, not just parts of their lives.

SteveMG on August 18, 2009 at 1:25 PM

Well said.

libertylady on August 18, 2009 at 1:27 PM

Jeff from WI, you started off on this thread “yawning” and now you seem to be scouring Wikipedia for anything negative you can find. Congrats on your Wiki-fu and all, but I don’t think anyone is particularly impressed with either your knowledge or opinion of Novak.

Missy on August 18, 2009 at 1:26 PM

Missy…I’m just tired of the Kool Aid drinkers whether they’re the Obama supporters, or supporters of a Hamas spokesperson like Novak.

Jeff from WI on August 18, 2009 at 1:27 PM


And then how much compassion they should showed after he died.

Del Dolemonte on August 18, 2009 at 1:27 PM

Ironically, I was thinking about Robert Novak the other day and wondering why we hadn’t heard anything about his condition.

I am so sorry for his family’s loss. May they be consoled that he led an admirable life, and may his soul rest in peace.

Novak’s journalistic integrity served as a model to others in his profession. We are all the poorer for losing another ethical watchdog of the political class.

onlineanalyst on August 18, 2009 at 1:28 PM

Tell us how classy all the Left sites were when Tony Snow was diagnosed with colon cancer. And then how much compassion they should after he died.

getalife.

Del Dolemonte on August 18, 2009 at 1:27 PM

Amen!

Jeff from WI on August 18, 2009 at 1:28 PM

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