Jewish World Review April 7, 2003 / 5 Nisan 5763
Michael Kelly, R.I.P.
http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | I never had the pleasure of knowing the late Michael Kelly. The 46-year-old Washington Post columnist and editor-at-large of the Atlantic Monthly and JWR contributor died Friday while covering Operation Iraqi Freedom. He perished in a Humvee accident while rolling toward Baghdad with the U.S. Army's 3rd Infantry Division.
I did have the pleasure of reading his sparkling prose and thinking about his original insights on current events, both foreign and domestic. He usually wrote as a liberal who somewhere had been bitten by reality. He seemed to grow increasingly skeptical of the politically correct and profligate at home and the pusillanimous abroad.
Michael Kelly's work often made me say to myself, "I wish I had written that!" I felt this most strongly when he produced the only thing about the Monica Lewinsky fiasco for which Americans should be grateful. His February 4, 1998 column, "I Believe," was a masterpiece, well deserving of a Pulitzer Prize all by itself. It was the single best piece of commentary to emerge from the entire Zippergate-Impeachment debacle. After I read it in the New York Post, I went straight to Kinko's, made about a dozen copies of it and handed it out to friends. For months, I e-mailed it to my own Friends of Bill who demanded to know why the American Right was picking on their hero.
In that op-ed, Kelly wrote as if he were a gullible liberal, outlining how he accepted Bill Clinton's explanations for why he was involved with Lewinsky. "Such innocent intimate friendships are quite common between middle-aged married men and young single women, and also between presidents of the United States and White House interns," Kelly wrote, sauteeing Clinton with facts and humor above a light flame of sarcasm. Whether you agreed or disagreed with Kelly, this was as good as punditry gets. Kelly's column should be stored at every editorial page in America in a clear container that reads: "In case of emergency, break glass."
Michael Kelly, the first American journalist killed in Gulf War II, is
survived by his wife, Madelyn, his sons -- Tom, 6 and Jack, 3 -- a
first-rate body of work and millions of admiring readers who already miss
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JWR contributor Deroy Murdock is a columnist with the Scripps Howard News Service and a Media Fellow with the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace at Stanford University. Send your comments by clicking here.
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