My first exposure to the late journalist/pundit Robert Novak was way back in 1983 as he was one of the panelists on a rather unusual roundtable show-The McLaughlin Group.
It was the infancy of the kind of combative punditry. A roundtable show with former Jesuit priest and Richard Nixon defender John McLaughlin as the ringmaster. There were conservatives, moderates and liberals. All Washington "insiders" and one of them was Robert Novak.
Mr. Novak was a staunch defender of the Reagan administration economic policies if not their strong anti-communism. But it was the tone that he would take with host Mr. McLaughlin.
Mr. Novak would sit back in his chair, somewhat slouching, and then say, "Let me explain it to you John" and then add something like this "Because I don't think you fully understand this" and Mr. Novak would go on to make his point. It was to a young college student ballsy. For a veteran reporter like Robert Novak to tell this upstart pundit the truth. WOW!
Then Mr. Novak and Pat Buchanan moved over to CNN. Mr. Novak went on another show like the McLaughlin Group, The Capital Gang.
On The Capital Gang, Mr. Novak seemed more at ease, yet just as opinionated and almost always right as on The McLaughlin Group.
Another memory is that among the the whole of The Capital Gang, only Mr. Novak had the Republican takeover of congress spot on. No one, even fellow conservative Kate O'Beirne thought that Mr. Novak knew what he was talking about.
But, that showed those people that they did not know what they were talking about.
Mr. Novak may have been a Washington "insider", but he had never lost the shoe-leather reporter in him. And he went around the country. And he talked to a lot of state GOP people that were in the know. And because of that, Mr. Novak almost hit his predictions right on target.
Now in this internet, blogger, Twitter age, there are not many like Robert Novak left. There are a lot of people that think they know what time it is. People like the wretched David Frum. But these people never get the pulse of the people. Robert Novak did. And that is what set him apart from so many in the Washington press elite.
I, for one, will miss the so-called Prince of Darkness. A man with the pulse on the people. In and out of Washington.