I first met Bob Novak during the 1988 Republican convention in New Orleans, where I was a member of the platform committee’s policy staff. I remember being surprised that a big-time columnist and television personality like Novak would spend so much time sitting in on sparsely attended subcommittee hearings and mundane drafting sessions. After one session, Novak made a beeline for me and other young staffers who were working on the economic plank. He was pleasantly surprised by the strong anti-tax-increase language throughout our draft, and was particularly interested in the reference to gold in a sentence on monetary policy.
An Evans and Novak column later that week reported on supply-side staffers who had infiltrated the platform committee, hanging a drawing of the Laffer curve on the wall of their work area. For the next 20 years, I was one of Novak’s occasional sources on Capitol Hill and in the White House, where I worked for Vice President Cheney.
Three years ago I was invited to a private dinner celebrating Bob’s 75th birthday. It was attended by all the movers and shakers in the supply-side movement — Jack Kemp, Art Laffer, Don Rumsfeld, Richard Rahn, Bruce Bartlett, Manuel Johnson, David Smick, Steve Entin, Rep. Paul Ryan, and Jeffrey Bell — along with many of Novak’s other reliable sources over the years. Several people at the dinner told their favorite Bob Novak stories; most were hilarious tales coming at Bob’s expense. Despite his “Prince of Darkness” public persona, Bob did have a good sense of humor. That evening was the last time I saw him.
Bob Novak was one of a kind — a shoe-leather newspaperman and a committed conservative who not only reported on the rise of supply-side economics, but through his numerous columns and television appearances helped promote and shape the pro-growth policies that changed the world.
— Cesar Conda is a former policy adviser to Vice President Cheney and to Mitt Romney’s 2008 presidential campaign.