Andrew Breitbart, 1969-2012

Andrew Breitbart, the conservative firebrand who practically re-invented the formula for blending activism and journalism, died suddenly today. He was only 43. I met Breitbart once, briefly, after he spoke to the Tea Party Convention in Nashville in early 2010, and he was indeed a larger-than-life personality, with his wild hair and his willingness to mix it up at any time. Breitbart was always "on." With a lot less fanfare, he was also a husband and a father -- and my condolences and prayers go out to his family and his friends.

As fans of the late Ted Kennedy would tell you, Breitbart would have been the last person to gush effusively over the death of an 180-degree political opponent, and no combination of grief and revisionist history can change the fact that at times his tactics were unfair and unacceptable (related to that: read this classy statement from Shirley Sherrod).

But he was, as his website said today, a "happy warrior" for the conservative causes he believed in, and I think America's a better place when it's filled with passionate people who profoundly disagree, as opposed to apathetic people who don't disagree because they're too lazy to care about anything. Breitbart cared. He thought that beliefs and ideas mattered, and for that alone he will be missed.