As Mona says, Tony’s death is a particular shock to those of us who enjoyed his company on the NR cruise just a few weeks ago. He was his usual convivial self, and fully engaged in the 2012 campaign season.
Back in 2005, Tony wrote a book called The West’s Last Chance. It opens with a sharply prescient prologue set in the London of the near future in which a Finsbury Park imam launches a protest against “sacriligious” art and sets off a chain of events leading to a brutal attack on a Tate Modern curator, the firebombing of the “Little David” in Florence, attacks on art galleries in Spain and France, etc. A few months after publication, the Danish cartoons crisis erupted and, in its combination of Islamic intimidation and Western capitulation, followed pretty much the trajectory foreseen by Tony — as has happened at other cultural pressure points in the years since. Tony anticipated all this, and wrote it up brilliantly. It would have made a marvelous movie.
To turn from the profound to the superficial, I always admired the way Tony was just about the only pundit who could eschew the dark-suit-for-TV rule. Instead, he was invariably the most colorfully accoutred guy on the set. A couple of Christmases back, I was guest-hosting “Hannity” on Fox and Tony turned up in a green check suit with red shirt and accessories. If memory serves, I introduced him as the poinsettia of pundits. Yet he looked splendid in a way that, say, Dick Morris or I wouldn’t. On the NR cruise, he sauntered the decks in a terrific pair of orange pants, which isn’t something most chaps can get away with. I vaguely assumed his confidence in this area was something to do with his days as a child actor on “Lassie” and whatnot.
To second Mona, he was delightful company, but he was also an incisive thinker with a great command of the long view, and he will be missed.