Dean Barnett Has Died; He Had Cystic Fibrosis

I knew very little of Dean Barnett other than the fact he wrote for The Weekly Standard and other conservative publications. Nevertheless, I want to say something about his death, because anyone who lives with an incurable genetic condition as terrible as cystic fibrosis, and does so with the grace and courage that Barnett apparently did, deserves to have that noted, and his friends and family do, too.

Perhaps I also have more than the usual amount of empathy for the pain felt now by those who loved Barnett, having myself had the experience of losing a loved one to an incurable genetic condition.

Although my extent of knowing Dean Barnett went no further than knowing his name and that he was a conservative writer, it’s clear from reading the response to his death on Memeorandum that he bridged The Great Divide of the political right and left. I don’t have to have known him personally to know how rare a feat that is.

Glenn Greenwald did know Barnett, and has this to say about his passing:

Really sad, horrendous news:  Dean Barnett has died, at the age of 41, of cystic fibrosis.  I wrote about Dean here a couple of weeks ago, in the bottom section of the post.  Here’s a 2006 article by Dean, bravely writing about his battle with that horrific disease.  And here’s a very recent interview he gave about many things, including the times he invited me to appear with him when he guest-hosted The Hugh Hewitt Show.  Condolences to his family and friends.

I recommend checking out those links — especially the one to Barnett’s personal essay. I don’t think you’ll regret having done so.

2 Responses to “Dean Barnett Has Died; He Had Cystic Fibrosis”

  1. Annie says:

    Thanks for shedding some light on this gentleman and what his major health challenge was. Treatment and life expectancy for people with CF has remarkably changed for the better – with still more to do to conquer, control and eradicate this progressive disease. As nursing student many years ago, I cared for children and teens with CF at a leading research hospital, and I blogged about one of my experiences. Link at my name.

    For Mr. Barnett to have done so well in spite of a disease which leaves people sapped of strength due to the difficulty in breathing, is quite remarkable.

  2. Ray Walvis says:

    I first met Dean in April 1996 under circumstances that have little to do with the political platform for which he was best known.

    Dean and I worked together for three years in the legal recruiting profession. Although I am a good deal older, it was Dean who took me under his wing, me being the newcomer to Boston, my family still elsewhere. Dean became my professional mentor, my friend and in many ways, like a brother.

    We spent our days together but also innumerable evenings and week-ends. We went to see the Celtics play, we played golf, we went to the movies and hung out a lot. Most significantly, Dean introduced me to his family – who en masse “adopted” me in to the clan. When my wife joined me in Boston in late 1996, there wasn’t a family event we weren’t part of.

    I always knew about his CF. It immediately became our #1 charitable cause. Dean was always involved. He felt he could and would make a difference and as so many people know, he did. He loved children but the reality of his illness kept him not only from having any of his own, but even considering marriage. When he met the love of his life, that luckily changed though.

    As others have commented, Dean was off the chart incredibly smart, intellectual, well-read, opinionated and conservative. He knew what he believed in and was vocal about it. This was long before he became associated with any of the conservative blogs and organizations that so many knew him for.

    For all my deep-rooted love and admiration for this remarkable man, I never really identified with his political views. As close as we were and as much time as we spent together, it was NEVER an issue at all! There were no heated words, there was no acrimony – ever. There was only mutual respect and admiration. This is how he led his life. It was fight the CF, and get the most out of lifet, everyday, but in doing so, be sure you make it a better place.

    For quite some time, Dean taught “law” at a Boston area school as part of a Saturday program, to give young people a better understanding of the American legal system. He coached young boys in a Newton basketball league. To him it could have been the NBA. He worked out vigorously to give his body the best possible chance it could have against the genetic killer he was born with. He loved sports, he loved politics, he loved life like NO ONE I’ve ever known.

    In the last few years we had lost contact with each other – for no reason other than geography and the commitments of day to day life. Last year we “found” each other again and although I never got to see him again, our email exchanges were like the old days.

    I’ve spoken to Dean’s family and I am close to tears, as I write these remarks. Life isn’t fair but you’d never know it ever knowing Dean. A truly exceptional and giving person has left us and we’re all poorer for his departure.

    Dear Dean, I miss you. May the Lord always shine his countenance on your undying spirit.


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