Robert Novak, who was suffering from brain cancer for over a year has finally passed away.
Bob was a an influention political columnist, conservative writer and television news-discussion show panelsit who fancied himself a “stirrer up of strife”. He died today at his home in Washington. The brain tumor that killed him was first diagnosed in 2008.
Mr. Novak’s syndicated column, “Inside Report” which he shared with Rowland Evans, was required reading for anyone interested in anything happening in Washington.
Mr. Novak and Mr. Evans frequently broke stories about presidential politics, fiscal policy, battles between parties and all manner of Washington bruhaha which they got from their sources all around the Washington elite, often from within the highest sources of government and very often, resulting in embarassing situations from some very prominent politicians.
Most recently, Mr. Novak gained popularity for his role in uncovering Valerie Plame, a CIA operative and her role in a scandal involving the Bush White House and their distortion of intelligence related to a uranium deal with Iraq. The story triggered a federal investigation into Plame and others and resulted in the indictment and conviction of top V.P. aide, Lewis Libby for perjury and obstruction of justice. President Bush reduced Mr. Libby’s sentence after the heat died down a bit.
Mr. Novak was also a long time supporter of the idea that widespread financial prosperity could be accomplished through tax cuts. This concept, known as supply-side economics, was not necessarily one of his most popular opinions.
David Kean, then chairman of the american Conservative Union, a Washington Lobbying organization expressed the opinion that Mr. Novak’s suport of the supply-side econimics idea transformed that concept from a concept into what eventually became part of the Regan Administrations economic policy.
As a congressional reporter, Novak wrote for the Associated Press and the Wall Street journal before teaming up with Rowland Evans in 1963. Their column, the “Inside Report” ran in approximately 300 newspapers around the country. Novak continued writing the column even after Evans retired and eventually died in 2001.
The column focused on political intrigue and many felt it sensationalized news stories like the nomination of Barry Goldwater for President. This story helped shape what became a formidable reputation for the two young columnists.
As young Washington columnist, Mr. Novak earned the nickname “The Prince of Darkness” which later became the title of his 2007 memoirs. He earned the title because of his grim demeanor, especially during the Kennedy administration when everyone expected journalists to be more upbeat. Mr. Novak was a striking contrast.
He wrote in his memoir, “I found myself engaged on issues I seldom wrote about: capital punishment, gay rights, abortion and gun control. I was never asked to take any position I opposed, but the process had the effect of hardening my positions.”
In 1993, Mr. Novak was as accused as a crude conservative lumped in with the likes of Rush Limbaugh. Nicholas Dean, a Dean at Columbia University, said that Mr. Novak took great pleasure in playing up his “bad guy” persona, kind of like those bad buy wrestlers in the WWF.
In addition to his resonsibilities as a columnist, Mr. Novak wrote several books about Washington and especially Republican politics.
Mr. Novak was 78 upon his demise and will be missed by man of the Washington elite.