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Ron Silver R.I.P.

He spoke at 100 mph, and thought just as fast. He was a man of passionate attachments and fierce loyalties, but he could change his mind on things. He absolutely loved everything about politics. He liked big-think and could talk sweepingly about the direction of world history. He also liked politics at its most basic. As a political consultant friend said today, he’d toss out a sentence like, “You know, we could win in the 14th,” and you’d have to ask: “Which 14th? The 14th congressional district? Assembly district?” What was he talking about? And he’d know the personalities in the race, the demographics of the district, pretty much everything. People make fun of actors who dabble in politics. He didn’t dabble. He did the full immersion.

Silver and I became friendly back in the early 1990s, when we shared many political views and interests. He liked a book I wrote, and most authors are suckers for people who are nice to their books; at least I am. He desperately wanted Bill Clinton and his Third Wayish politics to succeed. His problem-solving temperament also drew him to Rudy Giuliani as mayor of New York.

And Sept. 11 drew him to George W. Bush. “What are you doing here?” I asked him at the 2004 Republican National Convention, where he spoke on Bush’s behalf. But I knew. I can’t say I was happy with his speech, but there was still something irresistible about his passion and his glee at breaking ranks.

I saw him for the last time at a dinner during the 2008 Republican National Convention. It was a typical Ron Silver production: a large round table populated by people of every imaginable ideological persuasion, from socialist to liberal to conservative to libertarian. He jumped in and out of conversations, talking about books, ideas, people, foreign policy, foreign politics, and, of course, our own election. He was deeply torn between McCain and Obama, though Joe Klein reports that Silver eventually voted for Obama. (Joe has posted an extraordinary tribute to his dear friend.)

Silver was the most cheerful person who was dying of cancer that I have ever met. Cancer was an annoying inconvenience. He was hoping to beat it long enough to get various projects done. He’d keep going, keep working, keep thinking, keep arguing, keep assembling friends, until it got to him. It finally did last Sunday morning. We should all hope to have his energy, his curiosity and his passion.

By E.J. Dionne  | March 18, 2009; 10:49 PM ET
Categories:  Dionne  | Tags:  E.J. Dionne  
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Next: Obama's Teachable Moment II

Comments

Very nicely done, E.J. I watched Ron Silver many a times when he was a guest on Hardball. He had drifted away from where I stood on things but there was something so compelling about his intelligence and passion. A loss for all of us, indeed.

Posted by: creatia52 | March 19, 2009 1:41 AM | Report abuse

Thank you for your tribute to this exceptional citizen. We need more people to think for themselves as Ron Silver did. I did not agree with his abrupt right turn, but it is better than blindly following along without a thought as most do.

Posted by: Too2much | March 19, 2009 10:08 AM | Report abuse

One less republican!
Good riddance to bad rubbish.

Posted by: kase | March 19, 2009 11:22 AM | Report abuse

I won't go as far as to hail someone's death, however I will say that I connect someone's morality to their support for the Bush administration. Anyone who pays attention who defends the Bush Administration is not a good person.

Posted by: pdxgeek | March 19, 2009 3:18 PM | Report abuse

He didn't "drift to Bush after 9/11," he fell in with the Ziocons who hold another country's interests above those of the U. S, where he made his dough.

He was one of many traitors who, through their unbearable control over nearly all we read, hear or see, jumped in bed with the grandson of a nazi banker because his oil and war profit lusts dovetailed with the ziocon concern over Israel.

I don't recall much discussion or outrage about Bin Laden running free for the last 7 1/2 years.

He would have been very low on my list of those whose deaths I'd relish however.

Posted by: mot2win | March 19, 2009 11:53 PM | Report abuse

I did not know Ron Silver personally. I am a long-time Democrat, helping LBJ get in. I respect the two party system and diffent opinions. I have friends who vote for both parties.

How sad to have such a good article savaged by postings like Kase, pdxgeek, and it is TOTALLY DISGRACEFUL. I struggle like Ron to stick with my party when our two leaders in Congress and our President showing on a daily basis that they are no more qualified than the ones they replaced.

I hope his family does not read the comments. There is good in everyone and we should look for that. When someone makes these kind of comments in death, they are the ones who are showing their ignorance.

Posted by: gsms69 | March 20, 2009 4:07 PM | Report abuse

gsms69
"I struggle like Ron to stick with my party when our two leaders in Congress and our President showing on a daily basis that they are no more qualified than the ones they replaced."

-------------
1 You are full of it (and you know it).
2 We don't need you-if you are so disappointed go to the GOP...
Obama is ALREADY three times the president that LBJ was...
3 There is NO GOOD in republicans and I enjoy every death they suffer...

Posted by: kase | March 20, 2009 5:15 PM | Report abuse

The cruelty and viciousness of the above comments shows me more and more why so-called "Liberals" are the true heartless ones.

In the name of your political beliefs, you condemn the lives of those who don't meet your phony goals. You're all like the sanctimonious anti-war protesters who were waiting at the San Francisco Airport when my boyfriend and other U.S. Army personnel were returning from their tour in Vietnam. You hurled slurs and abuse at them - calling them "baby burners."

You have no hearts, no souls. You are empty human beings.

Rot.

Posted by: dana6 | March 20, 2009 7:20 PM | Report abuse

DANA6,if you come back, I did not have to go over there, but my cousin was in Oakland and went over to San Fran. to pick up some of our guys and brought them over to Oakland to send them home. Your boyfriend was a hero. He answered his call.

Ron Silver made many trips to Afghanistan and Iraq, and he was a hero. Whether he agreed with the war or not, he stood up for all Americans, liberals and conservatives.

Posted by: gsms69 | March 20, 2009 10:35 PM | Report abuse

"You hurled slurs and abuse at them - calling them "baby burners."
----------------------
AND IT STILL GOES!

Posted by: kase | March 21, 2009 4:10 PM | Report abuse

EJ - what a nice tribute to a good friend.

We should all say a prayer in honor of Ron in gratitude for a life well lived.

Ron probably switched parties because he saw Bush as the great defender against Jihad and the protector of Israel.

Unfortunately, Bush wasn't too good at asysmetric warfare or running the economy or protecting the border.

But a lot of that didn't become apparent until GW's second term, the first term Ron probably got swept up in the action and saw it as "progress", which it wasn't.

And my democratic brothers and sisters please refrain from speaking ill of the dead.

Posted by: agapn9 | March 23, 2009 10:20 AM | Report abuse

I understand that Ron Silver had great integrity, but he and the other "9/11 Republicans" are largely responsible for the great Iraq debacle that cost this nation 4,200 brave American lives, not to mention over 96,000 innocent Iraqi lives, and wasting over 700 Billion taxpayer dollars to boot. Mr. Silver rooted for a Presient that attacked a country that had absolutely nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks on the US. That Mr. Silver eventually came to his senses and voted for Obama does somewhat expunge this black mark on his life's story.

Posted by: logcabin1836 | March 23, 2009 3:24 PM | Report abuse

There is absolutely nothing wrong with "speaking ill of the dead" so long as it is done with some element of respect. Who will speak for those 96,000 innocent Iraqis civilians who died because of our invasion in 2003? An invasion predicated on the false justification of WMD's and 9/11. Why is everyone so silent on their behalf?

Posted by: logcabin1836 | March 23, 2009 3:33 PM | Report abuse

and the truth shall set you free.

Posted by: 12thgenamerican | March 23, 2009 6:57 PM | Report abuse

kase,you mean obama SPENT three times as much as lbj did(3 trillion).

Posted by: 12thgenamerican | March 23, 2009 7:00 PM | Report abuse

Kase: Your comments about Silver were terrible and juvenile.
Whether one shared his politcal views or not, he was a talented actor, and hardly a flaming right-wing idealogue.
Unlike the previous president, he didn't wreak any havoc on this nation or harm anyone.
Shame on you, poster. Haven't we all had enough of such vicious dialogue and mindless attacks? (And yes, I know I'm guilty of that myself here from time to time, but given some of the posters here it's very hard to be civil.)
Instead, I think logcabin's posts are both respectful, along with being thoughtful in his/her criticism.
Don't lower yourself the level of what most of talk radio and blogs are, kase. You're better than that.

Posted by: vegasgirl1 | March 24, 2009 1:54 PM | Report abuse

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