February 26, 1931: Robert Novak Born

Robert NovakOn this day in 1931, Robert David Sanders Novak was born in Joliet, Illinois. He would go on to be one of the best political columnists in American history.

Early in his career, Novak covered Washington for the Associated Press, then The Wall Street Journal. In 1963, he and Rowland Evans started Inside Washington, a syndicated weekly column. When Evans retired from publishing the column in 1993, Novak continued it.

In addition, Novak authored numerous books and became a fixture on CNN’s Crossfire and numerous political talk shows. While the latter received mixed reviews at best, his writings were always pure gold. In an era where many columnists’ M.O. is to regurgitate the same news in the loudest and pithiest manner, Novak always offered a new nugget of information in each of his column. I heard him speak in 2007 on his autobiography, “Prince of Darkness: 50 Years Reporting in Washington,” and the level of access that this man had to the White House and Congress was incredible.

That access, of course, got him in trouble late in his career, as it was Novak’s column that leaked Valerie Plame’s identity and cover as a CIA operative. The story has been covered in detail by the media, Hollywood and in Novak’s autobiography, and remains sore partisan subject to this day.

In August of 2008, Novak retired after being diagnosed with a brain tumor. He passed away on August 19, 2009.

Up to the end of his career, Novak’s columns remained relevant and potent. Below are a few gems that he penned in his final six months on the job.

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