The Art of #War

Many people saw Andrew Breitbart as a general, a man of vision who could see all the players on the field and inspire those around him to engage. He was that, but he also stood on the hill and rattled sabers. He was a tactician, a student, a mentor, and a motivator. Among his many talents, he had the unique ability to get his friends and his enemies to sit around with some drinks and have a good time. The way that Andrew lived his life--and make no mistake, this is not a job, it's a lifestyle--reminds me of the words of Sun Tzu, the famous military strategist.

Sun Tzu said that there are five essentials for victory.  Andrew seemed to know them well.

1. He will win who knows when to fight and when not to fight.

A lot of people want and try to imitate Andrew. I see many people tweet the #war or #warrior hashtag when they're tweeting out links or getting into a fight. But Andrew didn't fight just for the sake of fighting. Well, sometimes he did, but almost always he was able to use a fight to his tactical advantage. I know on the outside it seemed that Andrew was always fighting, but there were many conference calls where Andrew would talk strategy and tell us to hold our cards. He knew when to start a fight, he definitely knew how to finish a fight, but people didn't always observe or seem to forget that Andrew also knew when to wait for the enemy to come to him.

2. He will win who knows how to handle both superior and inferior forces.

No one "puches up" or "punches down" with the same flair that Andrew did. I remember Andrew telling me, as he told many, that the only reason anyone knows Eric Boehlert's name is because Breitbart began his own little warpath on Twitter. And Boehlert was the perfect foil: a humorless grundoon who was not well respected or liked, even among his peers. Going after Boehlert was going after Media Matters. While that may have been "punching down" for Andrew, going after Media Matters was going after the money man for the Democrat-Media Complex, George Soros. Breitbart mastered going after a superior and inferior force with one stroke. He opened the door to the Soros funding complex, and made a mini-celebrity out of a useful lefty lackey.

3. He will win whose army is animated by the same spirit throughout all its ranks.

I don't think I need to list how Andrew inspired an army of citizen journalists. But in case you need a reminder:

4. He will win who, prepared himself, waits to take the enemy unprepared.

Even before I worked at the company, I could tell when Andrew had a scoop. When Larry O'Connor and I did an Internet radio show together, Andrew often called in. A few times while I was screening his call he would be just a little more hyped than usual. When that happened he would sometimes ask me, "Am I going to go on in the next 30 seconds?" If my answer was "no" he would pause and say, "Ok, YOU CAN'T TELL ANYBODY, but...". I have no idea why he would tell me some things that I absolutely had no business knowing about. I asume it was because I was on the phone with him at the right time in the middle of the night.

After I was hired, I remember hearing Andrew talk about breaking stories. He described his strategy as playing "mental Jiu jitsu" with the left. Before he broke a major story he would describe to me what would happen: "First, we'll release this audio. Then the left will respond this way. Then they'll claim that we don't have more. Then we'll release the second part of the audio. Then the media will say 'that's it.' And then we'll really elevate the story with this video!" Andrew was brilliant at predicting exactly how the left and media would respond. A person could really watch Andrew's talent when he would engage the media and the left as they desperately tried to respond to whatever Andrew had unfolded. O'Connor once described it as watching Andrew "ride the waves" of the media cycle.

You can watch Andrew describe his method at the 9/12 Tea Party in Washington, D.C:

5. He will win who has military capacity and is not interfered with by the sovereign.

I previously wrote about what brought me to the organization, but it wasn't the whole story. As I mentioned before, I used to do an Internet radio show on which Andrew was a frequent guest. It was in the middle of the night and was extremely casual. Andrew would talk on the phone with us through airport security, walking home from a restaurant, or sitting at his computer contemplating the Democrat-Media complex. That gave us hours of exclusive, deep conversations with Andrew.

One night he talked about how he wasn't tethered to the "institutional right" or the GOP and that if he went down, he knew he would go down alone. No one from the GOP or some vast right-wing conspiracy smoke-filled room somewhere was going to save him. If he failed, no one was coming for him. He put this in the context that he knew he was going to take the hits alone, without the defense of any mainstream political organization. I remember resolving at that point that while I may never be some big media guru, taking the big hits like Andrew, I had another important role: to fight for the fighters. Someone needed to have Andrew's back, and like many others, I decided that I was going to take that task (emphasis mine).

Here's a crazy thought for you: We're out there, we're fighting this fight, and I feel that I have a lot of people that are out there behind us. That's why I like the Tea Party movement, because those people I kinda feel like if the sh** hit the fan that some of those people would really, like, come through. But I kinda feel like we've had some successes and discovered some things that are rattling the left's, you know, systems. But, they're targeting me, they really are. You know, I've had a death threat against me, and they really wanna figure out how to take me out.

Who in the Republican Party is going to come and defend me, you know, when I'm accused of bad things or things start going bad? That's the thing that kinda has me fearful is that I'm starting to realize that the infrastructure of the right, the reason why we fight so hard is because they don't fight hard enough. They are representing a group of people who are the majority in this country. The people who are the far left in this country are like 5-10%. They are able to control it because they fight to win. And the Republican Party should represent 55% of this country. But to me, it seems, it's fighting to protect its own hide.

And so as I'm having some mild successes, it's not without some revelations and some ruminations on what the realities are. It's like holy crap, you know, I'm sticking my neck out there all by myself. Who on the institutional right is going to protect me or anyone on our sites who is out there trying to expose things that are ultimately going to help us in the long run?

While no one acknowledged it at the time, that freedom was really one of Andrew's greatest assets. Andrew wasn't, and never wanted to be, a political operative carrying out missions dictated by suits. He was an independent force, a wild card, such that the left never knew when or what they would encounter with him. Being an independent entity gave Andrew a fire that drove him to release and cover the unlikely story. Although, in the beginning, he was out there in the new media blazing the trail for investigative journalism on his own, he was never held back by concerns of what "The Hill" would think of him. He knew what he had to do, and he did it with reckless abandon.

This is the Andrew that everyone remembers, the one that mastered the art of war. And yet Andrew mastered the art of laughter even more skillfully.

In the very few years that I was able to observe Andrew, it appeared that his favorite endeavor was not standing on a hill yelling "charge," but it was making those he loved around him laugh. Outside of spending time with his family, that seemed to be the thing that gave him the most happiness. Andrew loved to laugh. He loved to make others around him laugh even more.

The week that Andrew died was the same week that we were working on the relaunch of The new setup was very different than the old, and we spent hours in training learning the ins-and-outs of the technical infrastructure. During one of the many 10-hour days, I remember Andrew looking over my shoulder at the fake webpage I had created for practice. He seemed very pleased with it and asked me several questions about my methods. He was nervous about the launch, but he could barely contain his excitement about the new features and paced around the room smiling.

Later that week we were watching the Academy Awards on a projector in the office. Andrew was doing a "Mystery Science Theatre: 3000" type commentary on the affair. After the initial raucous laughter had died out, everyone gave at least a courtesy chuckle to all his jokes. During a portion of the show when they were showing clips of movies only people in LA or NYC had seen, Andrew made a joke that happened to really tickle me. I have a loud laugh anyway, but no one else was laughing, so it was really loud in the echoey office. I saw Andrew's head pop out of the cluster of people around him (even when it was just the editors, Andrew was always surrounded) and look right at me. He had the biggest smile on his face. It conveyed something like, "Aha! I got one!" I realized that he was happier with me then, for laughing at his joke, then he was with me the whole dang week I'd been killing myself learning the site.

People remember Andrew Breitbart as the warrior, the one who would walk--no, run-- towards the fire with reckless abandon. But he was more than that. He was the ultimate happy warrior. He loved to get into the middle of the fight, but he was having a ball while he was doing it. And when the fight was over he would yell, "Let's all go to Applebees!"

We need more happy warriors.

We miss you, Andrew. The battle is a lot colder without you.


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