Frank Duggan: The Tony Blankley I knew

David Martosko Executive Editor
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Tony Blankley, the former longtime Newt Gingrich press secretary who later went on serve as the Washington Times’ editorial page editor, succumbed to stomach cancer on Saturday. He was 63.

Prior to coming to Washington, D.C., Blankley spent 10 years as a California prosecutor. He also served President Ronald Reagan as a speechwriter and policy analyst.

Frank Duggan is a lawyer and law enforcement expert who serves as president of Victims of Pan Am Flight 103. On Sunday he shared this remembrance of his friend Tony with The Daily Caller.

Tony Blankley was was a gifted writer, and would write about Greek historical figures as easily as he would Winston Churchill.

I once told him how much I enjoyed his Churchill quotes, and he humbly explained that “there was so much to work with.” Tony’s father, an accountant, had Winston Churchill as a client before he moved the family to California.

Noted for his sartorial splendor, Tony made at least one trip to London each year to visit with his tailors. The main reason I would watch the old John McLaughlin scream-fests on TV was Tony, as much to see his latest attire as to listen to his wonderful British expressions.

I loved the term “puckish,” which he used but which could readily be applied to him. He was a gentleman.

I once asked him how he could contain himself when he was interrupted and verbally abused by that dreadful Eleanor Clift. Tony said it did not bother him because “she actually believes all that stuff she is shouting about,” as opposed to some of the others on that TV program.

Always the Anglophile, he was also a patriotic American with a love of American history. I once told him that I had been told there were more doctors than lawyers who signed the Declaration of Independence. His eyes narrowed, he thought about it for a few moments, and he said this was not so. He knew who had signed the Declaration of Independence!

Most people did not know that Tony was a lawyer and a prosecutor, and that he started out as a Democrat until he first went to work for Ronald Reagan. He left the Reagan White House to work for Speaker Newt Gingrich, which was a great relief for those who thought Newt needed a steady hand on his team. He told me that he still spoke to Gingrich at least once a week.

We will all miss Tony, but what a loss to Newt Gingrich.

I am anxious to read more about his fascinating life. At our last lunch a few weeks ago, I told him that I had read somewhere that his peacock had died. He said that was not true, but it was one of his llamas that had died. What an amazing man.

David Martosko