Novak retires

The Prince of Darkness is hanging it up, and here's hoping that his spot in the conservative chattering class is filled with a sensible substitute.

Published August 5, 2008 1:13PM (EDT)

Well, the news that Bob Novak's brain tumor has forced him to give up his column-writing duties is an unfortunate twist in a campaign season that has already taken Tim Russert and Tony Snow.

I rarely agree with the 77-year-old Novak. But as a paleoconservative I find him to have more integrity and a greater grasp of realism than the loony neoconservatives of the present generation. And with luck his place in the conservative writing and media circuit will be filled with somebody smart and reasonable like Matt Continetti and Ross Douthat, rather than some up-and-coming right-wing nutjob.

I always wonder if guys like Novak and Russert would much rather literally drop dead, as Russert did, in the middle of doing the thing that made them feel most alive, or whether they would fade off while retired to some cottage in the Hamptons or the Cape. (Me? I'll take the latter scenario.) I hope Novak and his family deal well with his chemotherapy, and that the bicyclist he hit two weeks ago is recovering, too.

Correction: As a reader points out, Novak hit a pedestrian, not a bicyclist.

By Thomas Schaller

Thomas F. Schaller is professor of political science at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and the author of "Whistling Past Dixie: How Democrats Can Win Without the South." Follow him @schaller67.

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