The Wall Street Journal: We're More Than Political Animals

March 1st, 2012

The Wall Street Journal
March 1, 2012
By Peggy Noonan


The conservative activist Andrew Breitbart, who died Thursday, was a piece of work—bombastic, sensitive, angry, deeply generous, full of laughter. Spirited, too, like some kind of crazy knight. He was a battler and a warrior and he was brave and he made mistakes. He was a warm-blooded animal, not a cold one, and I suppose the thing that wounded him most was the thing that wounds everybody: He wanted to be understood. That’s a lot to ask of the other humans, who are mostly trying to understand themselves.

So many conservatives are mourning his passing, at 43, because he was irreplaceable, a unique human soul. The other day in a seminar at a university, a student of political science asked a sort of complicated question that seemed to be about the predictability of human response to a given set of political stimuli. I answered that if you view people as souls, believe that we have souls within us, that they are us, then nothing political is fully predictable, because you never know what a soul will do, how a soul will respond, what truth it will apprehend and react to. I was thinking as I spoke of the headline when the Titanic went down: “1,400 Souls Lost.” We used to see people in that larger dimension, which is not a romantic but a realistic one. The puniest person is big, and rich.

I had criticized Andrew last year in a column. A few weeks ago we bumped into each other at an airport, arranged to sit together on the plane, spoke our peace, hashed it through, and wound up laughing. He was endearing because he was exposed: If he felt it, he told you.

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