R.I.P. Tony Blankley 1949-2012

We lost one of the highly respected conservative voices in politics over the weekend. Tony Blankley, former editor at the Washington Times, died at the age of 63.

Tony Blankley, a noted conservative commentator, Ronald Reagan speechwriter and former editorial page editor of The Washington Times, died late Saturday, leaving a legacy of significant analysis that bridged politics and culture with finesse, optimism and a sense of history.

He was 63 and had been battling stomach cancer.

At the time of his death, Mr. Blankley was an executive vice president of the Edelman public relations firm in Washington, a visiting senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation think tank, a syndicated newspaper columnist and an on-air political commentator for CNN, NBC and NPR.

He was also a regular weekly guest on “The McLaughlin Group.”

In addition to the credits listed above, Blankley was a chief adviser to Newt Gingrich during his tenure as Speaker in the nineties. He also held a number of positions in the Reagan administration. Blankley had more than a little in common with Reagan, in that he was also an actor earlier in his career. (He even appeared on screen with my personal favorite, Humphrey Bogart early in life.)

Stacey McCain adds a colorful, personal tribute as one who knew and worked with the man.

He was, among many other things, a splendid peacock in his wardrobe, giving no heed to those in Washington who suppose that influential men should limit their suits to dull grays and somber blues. I would often be out in front of the office having a cigarette break when Blankley arrived for work or returned from an event downtown, and we would sometimes have brief, lively discussions of policy or political issues.

Not a good start to the new year. Rest in peace, Mr. Blankley.

EDIT: (Jazz) Had incorrect spelling of Mr. Blankley’s name in the last line.