RIP Robert Novak

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I always liked Bob Novak. Timothy Carney at Human Events has a good piece up on his late former boss and a reminder of what made Novak exceptional:

Novak, of course, was also a conservative. Although always close to the conservative movement, even when he was big enough that he didn’t need it. Novak was always independent in his thought. At times the conservative movement has been less tolerant of dissent within the ranks. I was working for him in 2002 and 2003 when Novak stood against President Bush and the Iraq War.

Novak’s stance led some of the more bellicose writers in the movement to assail Novak’s character. Neoconservative writer David Frum wrote a cover story for National Review on the eve of Bush’s invasion of Iraq, calling Novak, together with Pat Buchanan and other opponents of the invasion, “Unpatriotic Conservatives.”

I saw the effect this had on Novak. More than anything, it saddened him. It hurt his feelings that old friends joined Frum in turning their backs on him. But he was also saddened about the state of the conservative movement. Such intolerance of dissent and debate — and such disdain for conservatism’s roots in a humbler foreign policy — would become a weakness for conservatives and the Republican Party, Novak correctly foresaw.

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