August 20, 2009

BELL TOLLS:

Bob Novak, Truth Seeker: Novak ended up supporting Reagan because he was open to changing his mind. (JEFFREY BELL, 8/20/09, WSJ)

I first met Bob Novak in Sacramento in 1974, and I'm not embarrassed to say I was more than a little afraid of him. I was 30 years old and had just started a job as a political researcher for Ronald Reagan, who was finishing up his term as governor of California and considering a run for the presidency in 1976. Robert Walker, a more senior member of Reagan's political team, had invited me to lunch, and I was thrilled to learn that Bob, of whom I'd long been in awe, would join us.

I'd read every word of every Evans and Novak column, and regarded Bob as the most dangerous journalistic critic of the conservative movement. He was dangerous not because he was unfair, but because he knew so much about us. Most members of the elite media didn't know anything about conservatives and didn't want to know. So I told myself I'd have to watch my words unless I wanted to get my new boss, and myself, in some trouble.

I did watch my words, but I couldn't help but listen to his. He seemed to know everyone in politics and everything they were up to. He was free with his opinions and observations, often accompanied by a revealing anecdote. I'm sure I asked him more questions than he asked me. He never once took out a notebook. In spite of my resolutions, I found myself relaxing and trying to engage. I was on the road to becoming a source.

Posted by Orrin Judd at August 20, 2009 12:23 PM
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