Appreciating Bob Novak

You might be surprised to learn that the Prince of Darkness and I are old friends. Don't be.

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Bob Novak is a friend of mine and has been for decades. I make no apology for it.

The liberal readers of this blog may be surprised or even angered to read that the Prince of Darkness and I are friends. That's the way it is.

Even younger journalists have expressed astonishment when they hear that the conservative columnist is a friend. They don't understand that reporters of our vintage were on the campaign trail with typewriters and deadlines that permitted some camaraderie and even fun.

To be sure—Novak and I agree on almost nothing in the world of politics. But we are both sports junkies and find common ground trying to stump each other on sports trivia. Novak has an amazing memory that can recall the most obscure of sports events.

Novak can also be criticized on his viewpoints, but not the depth of his reporting. The phone is rarely far from his ear. You may not like his emphasis on columns (I do), but you know he's reported them to the fullest.

Another thing: Novak will hate my sharing this, but he is always among the first to call if he hears you are sick. Jack W. Germond, our political colleague of yesteryear, put it right when he said Novak "is a lot nicer than people think."

For now, Novak is hospitalized in Boston with a brain tumor. No word yet on whether it is benign or cancerous. Be assured, he'll fight to get back to work.

Finally, Novak always laughs when he tells me that he thought I was a middle-ground reporter—now that I'm retired, I can express my left-of-center opinions.

Readers of blogs should understand this as Novak does. I was fair and nonpartisan as a reporter, with many sources among Republicans and Democrats. But in retirement, I can give my opinions, and they are clearly labeled opinion.

Get well, Novak, so I can chew you out about your latest column.

Novak, Robert