Tony Blankley was one of the kindest people I have ever known. I am sure he will be memorialized for his other unique qualities and for the impact he had on the nation’s political culture. He was wise, funny, and thoughtful. He was a gifted writer and political tactician whose contribution to America is enduring.
But above all, at least to me and when I met or dealt with him over the years, I remember Tony Blankley as a generous, kind person. When Tony became editor of the editorial page editor of the Washington Times my friend Ed Kutler — who worked with him for Speaker Newt Gingrich — sent him a note suggesting that I should write op-eds for him on a regular basis.
I received a letter from Tony inviting me to send ideas and article along as I saw fit. He added, “The pay per article isn’t great. Enough for some cheese and a glass of port. But maybe we can make difference.”
During his tenure at the Washington Times he encourage me to write about more than health care. I was able to write about Israel, popular culture, do book reviews, and even the unsigned editorials under the paper’s masthead. When we met I would try to thank him for the opportunity he had given me but he would have none of it and turn the conversation to politics or movies. I should have tried harder.
When he left the paper to become Senior Vice President at Edelman we stayed in touch. At one meeting he suggested that I should write more regularly and that The American Spectator — which at the time was building the online presence it has now — would be a great place to do so. When my son was in the Israeli Defense Forces he would ask about him and his well-being. Tony was a willing source of advice and gentle guidance. There are many more people he supported and kept in touch with in the same way.
He will and should be remembered for his two important books The West’s Last Chance: Will We Win the Clash of Civilizations and American Grit: What It Will Take to Survive and Win in the 21st Century. In the latter work he asserted a strong America was essential to human freedom and doing what we must to “protect and strengthen this providential nation” was more important than ideology. It was a theme and worldview that has influenced me greatly.
Because he was so much to the many people whose lives he touched, there will be as many ways to recall and pay tribute to Tony. Here’s mine: I saw him the past two summers at the Steamboat Institute freedom conference. When he wasn’t moderating panels he was strolling gracefully arm-in-arm with his wife Lynda under the cloudless Colorado skies. That is how I will always remember Tony Blankley.