I was shocked and saddened, as I am sure all Hugh Slatery's readers were, to hear the news of his passing. My prayers are with his family and friends, especially his wife and three children.
It is strange knowing people only through contact online, through emails and comments and blog posts. When I saw Hugh's picture in Kevin's post it took my breath away. He looks exactly like I would have imagined, only much more handsome. I found myself crying off and on yesterday -- first for Hugh's family and their loss, then over regret that I didn't know more about Hugh while he was with us and that I didn't take more time to let him know how much I admired his work.
Looking at that picture, it really saddened me to think that last night was the first time I ever saw his face. In some ways it was the first time I really saw his work, too. I had known him first as a frequent commenter beginning when I blogged at Polipundit and then later as a blogger here at Wizbang. I had enjoyed his comments which were not only intelligent, but also witty and supportive, and later his blogging. Seeing all his blog posts in one collection put everything into new perspective. As I read back through his archive I had a new appreciation for the incredible insight he had. I was already a fan, but I didn't fully realize how much quality work he had produced. I am not quite up to reading back through his comments since those back and forth discussions between the "regulars" are much more personal and I am just not quite ready to go there yet.
I apologize for using so many "I's" here, but knowing Hugh primarily through his writing I knew less about him and more about what his writing meant to me. His observations always made me think. Sometimes they made me smile or laugh out loud. Sometimes the things he pointed out ticked me off and made me want to pick up a sign and go to a tea party. He was a kind and brilliant man and he is already missed.
If you did not read Hugh regularly, take a look at his archive of work. Here are a couple of excerpts from Hugh's posts:
In the 2006 midterm Democrats picked up control of the Senate and the House. One of the lesser known facts about that change of control, from a national viewpoint, is that the change in control of the Senate came down to a difference of 2,847 votes out of a total of 61.2 million cast nationally. And of the fourteen closest races that "settled control of the House of Representatives" (according to Karl Rove) 27,022 votes out of a total of 81 million in all House races made the difference for Democrats. Fund worries that we are forgetting the lessons of the 2000 election recount debacle. That take is a little too kind in my view. I'm concerned that the other side is resolutely determined to steal it right this time.
The Tea Party movement has been all over this issue from its beginning but Governor Christie may be the first big league politician to actually wrestle the problem to the ground. Think about that data for a moment. Government employees in New Jersey enjoy health benefit plans that are 41% more expensive than Fortune 500 private sector plans. Why do public sector employees that create no wealth whatsoever enjoy such riches in excess of a private sector that pays all of the taxes from their own wealth creation? What the Tea Party movement advanced in general last Spring is being brought home by Christie in a manner that makes it personal. And therein is the substance of a winning campaign strategy if only some conservative/libertarian will show the courage to push a policy on a national level that surprisingly is being birthed in New Jersey. Conservatives would be wise to heed Christie's most prescient comment that "subtlety is not going to win this fight,"