Sunday, January 08, 2012

Tony Blankley, RIP

I will miss Tony Blankley and his clear-headed, insightful, charitable political commentary. I second Cal Thomas' praise: "He was the kind of writer who made me want to read what he said because I was always interested in what he said."

From the Washington Times tribute:
"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.'

"From 1990 to 1997, he served as press secretary and general adviser to House Speaker Newt Gingrich, ultimately earning a reputation among political friends and foes as one of Washington’s most genial, quick-witted and effective operatives.

"Mr. Gingrich, campaigning in New Hampshire on Sunday for the Republican presidential nomination, called his former press secretary a 'very dear friend' and a key part of the team behind the 1994 Contract With America.

"'His father had been the accountant for Winston Churchill. Tony grew up with this deep passionate commitment, that I think he got from his dad, for freedom,' Mr. Gingrich said. 'Tony was a very special person. He was more than a great professional. He was a great human being. He was a caring and loving person. He was a tremendous amount of fun, remarkably erudite and educated.'"
From Tony's last column: Newt's Past and Future Leadership published at Real Clear Politics December 14, 2011:
". . . And after the GOP took back the House for the first time in 40 years (and the Senate, too, by the way), Gingrich's four years as speaker proved to be the most productive, legislative congressional years since at least 1965 to 1967, and they were led by Lyndon B. Johnson from the White House. Working against -- and with -- Democratic President Bill Clinton, we passed into law most of the Contract with America, welfare reform, telecommunications reform (which ushered in the modern cell phone and Internet age), we had the first balanced budget since before the Vietnam War, we cut taxes and lowered unemployment to under 5 percent.

"Just who the heck do all these wizard political pros think managed all that? It wasn't us clever staffers or many of the now grumbling GOP K Street crowd. We helped, but Gingrich led. I admit Gingrich's methods were not orthodox. He modified the seniority committee chairman system and picked the best members for the key posts. More than a few feathers got ruffled."

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