It is heartbreaking to report that Dean Barnett, one of the early stars of the conservative blogosphere, died this afternoon at the age of 41 of complications from cystic fibrosis. Dean was a Massachusetts businessman who began writing a delightful blog about the Red Sox but soon found himself irrepressibly drawn to the politics of the present moment. Both in his own blog, then as a contributor to Hugh Hewitt’s blog, and finally as a staff writer at the Weekly Standard’s blog, Dean was a sterling example of the democratizing power of the Internet to bring forward voices that, in previous generations, might never have found the proper vehicle for meaningful self-expression.
He was a natural, a fluent and fluid prose stylist of uncommon good humor. The fact that he found such good cheer in such difficult times surely had something to do with the remarkably good-natured, matter-of-fact, and quietly brave way he lived with his cystic fibrosis, about which he wrote as lucidly as he wrote almost everything else. I never met Dean, but had literally hundreds of e-mail exchanges with him, and they were highlights of every day on which I was lucky to participate in them. This is yet another remarkable quality of the blogosphere and the Internet — that they create new kinds of friendships based on very old epistolary models.
He was one of nature’s noblemen. Zikhrono Liv’rackha — may his memory be for a blessing.