Another Giant is Greeted by the Pearly Gates – Robert Novak

There are only a handful of “giants” in the conservative movement – people that can truly be considered pioneers. The last several years have seen the earthly passing of a plethora of these giants, from the recent death of Jack Kemp, to William Buckley before him, and to Milton Friedman and even Ronald Reagan earlier in the decade. Today we lost another such giant, and though Bob Novak was not an intellectual like Friedman and Buckley, or an elected official like Kemp and Reagan, he was every bit as influential. He will be sorely missed.

I grew up with Novak, in a manner of speaking. As far back as I can remember, and we are talking about very early in my life, I was reading his weekly column, and watching him on television. When he was spearheading the success of The Capital Gang and Crossfire and other such landmark television shows, I was glued to my TV, wondering why the other people on the show were willing to be on the stage with such a superior mind and voice. To this day, I believe my freqent use of the expression, “it is like watching a six year old do card tricks”, comes from what my dad used to say when Novak went head to head with Al Hunt or Mark Shields. He was not just superior ideologically, though he surely was; but he argued with a certain sense of logic and reason that left even liberal opponents impressed.

I did not always agree with Novak, particularly when it came to foreign policy. He was a critic of the Iraq war, but unlike other libertarian cynics, he never, ever, ever wavered in his support of the troops and our nation’s moral responsibility. He did not trust government, but he was a patriot. Novak was a conservative who saw his chief opponents as being the far left and its dogmatic commitment to big government. But, he was prophetic in his repudiation of “big governmentism” in the right as well. Before there was ever controversy over “how big of a tent” the GOP ought to have, Novak called a spade a spade, recognizing that some in the White House (Karl Rove), in journalism (David Brooks), and in history (Teddy Roosevelt), were not exactly the pillars of limited government that us conservatives were supposed to be fond of. Novak was civil, but he was principled. I admire him for his disposition as much as I do for his conviction.

And he was the best of his era as a journalist. He broke story after story throughout his illustrious career. Few conservative journalists were as liked and respected by the other side as Bob Novak. And I am certain that no journalist will ever again leave the legacy that he did. Novak converted to faith in Christ 12 years ago. His spiritual journey is now complete. What is not complete, though, is the legacy that Novak began. May a new era of conservative giants begin, where thought leaders combine skill and diplomacy with a desire to change the world. In the field of journalism, this new era can hold up Robert Novak as its standard.