Two years without Steve Gilliard

adapted with minor changes from a diary I wrote last February

One day in February 2007, Steve Gilliard wrote his last post for the News Blog and went to the doctor to get a prescription for a cold he couldn’t shake. He was admitted to the hospital right away for treatment of an infection of unknown origin, and he never was able to get back on his computer. He died that June.

I know I’m not the only former News Blog addict who thinks of Steve every time Republican Party chairman Michael Steele says something ridiculous. Steve would have had a field day with the RNC leadership contest. Just imagine the post he might have written about this list of prominent conservatives who endorsed Ken Blackwell.

Further reflections on what Steve’s blogging meant to me are after the jump.

I don’t go as far back with Steve as many bloggers. I only discovered Daily Kos after he had moved on from the front page.

I “got to know” Steve by clicking through links I found on other blogs. I liked his voice. He was funny, even when angry. He seemed to be about my age. Although his life experiences as a black man from New York City were very different from mine, I could relate to his perspective on many issues.

I absolutely loved his rants. His writing flowed so freely, and was so full of emotion compared to my own style.

I also found his optimism refreshing. I can be a pessimist by nature. He was convinced that George W. Bush would not serve out his second term. I didn’t believe him, but I enjoyed reading the case he made for it. Although Bush was not driven from office as Steve expected, he did set records for disapproval ratings by the end of his presidency.

Steve was knowledgeable about military history, and I learned a lot from his posts, though I admit that I never made it through every piece in the thoroughly researched “Colonial Warfare” series.

I started checking his blog once a week or so. By late 2004 or early 2005 I was checking every day. In 2006 I often checked two or three times a day.

I didn’t know him “in real life” at all. We had a few e-mail exchanges when I sent him links to articles I thought he’d be interested in (like this one, this one and this one, all about people who had volunteered for military service).

Eventually, I started commenting at The News Blog. I liked the community there, especially “Mrs. Robinson,” whom I respected for her insights at Steve’s place long before I had heard of Sara Robinson or the Orcinus blog. I could always count on Mrs. Robinson to say something sensible on the threads below Steve’s posts on parenting. (As much as I loved Steve’s blog, if he ever wrote anything on parenting that I agreed with, I can’t remember what it was.)

When Steve’s health crisis began, I was shocked. I hadn’t been reading long enough to know about his previous heart surgery, kidney failure, or other challenges. The News Blog community rallied to produce guest posts every day until Steve was able to return to his writing, and I even contributed a few recipes to the mix. After a couple of months of this, I began to fear the worst. Finally, on June 2, I saw the post I’d been dreading.

For weeks after Steve’s death, I kept checking The News Blog every day. I don’t know why. I think that on some subconscious level, I kept hoping that one time I would click and not find Steve’s obituary on the front page.

Not long after Steve died, some of his friends and regular commentators on The News Blog formed the Group News Blog. I am not a regular commenter or even a frequent lurker at the Group News Blog. It’s not that I don’t appreciate the writers’ talents–I think that going there just makes me miss Steve more.

If you feel like taking some time to remember Steve, here are links to many obituaries that bloggers wrote, the the New York Times obituary that ran in June, and Matt Bai’s piece published in the New York Times Magazine at the end of 2007.

I recommend that you revisit some of the classic posts Kossacks mentioned in diaries after Steve died:

How Iraq could devolve into Civil War (written less than a month after we invaded Iraq)

I’m a fighting liberal

Abusing history

You have shamed us (about Lynn Swann, Michael Steele and Ken Blackwell)

Or my own all-time favorite, We told you so, written in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

As wonderful as those works are, they can’t make up for the pieces Steve was unable to write during the past two years, posts on the “surge” in Iraq, the U.S. attorney scandal, the Jena Six, holiday food, the 2007 New York Giants, the 2008 New York Yankees, the implosion of Rudy Giuliani’s presidential campaign (Steve saw that one coming), the epic Clinton/Obama primary battle, and of course the return of Michael Steele.

Please consider this an open thread for sharing your reflections on two years without Steve’s blogging.

UPDATE: Thanks to sardonyx for pointing out that links to Steve’s Daily Kos writing

can be found on Steve’s dKosopedia pages. All his front-page posts, and his comments through May 2003 and after the October 15, 2003 switchover to Scoop.

A more complete reference to Steve Gilliard’s writing is here on the Group News Blog site.

  • Yeah, I miss Steve, too...

    Now the blogosphere is crammed with poor imitations.  His work definitely helped me make heads and tails of them crazy days post Sept. 11th. when I was sitting in Chicago trying to figure out what my next steps would be.

    I just wish I could find the early early (2002)Daily Kos post and comments re Jeff Fort and the P. Blackstone Rangers.  As I recall Steve had some great and insightful commentary on that. Exploring the villification of P. Blackstone by Chicago police, and the 60’s race riots (and lack thereof on Chicago’s Southside, courtesy of P. Blackstone), and some of the language being used with the villification of Arab Muslims post 9/11, and what the Nation of Islam’s response should look like.

    For those not familiar with P. Blackstone and South Chicago attitude in the late 1960’s, this quote about sums it up…

    Got a Tombstone Disposition and a Graveyard Mind.  I’m a Black Mother Fucker and I Don’t Mind Dyin’. -Mighty Mighty Blackstones, circa 1967

    Yeah, you just don’t get many militant’s posting on DK much anymore, it’s all just pretty much mainstream liberal fluff now. I do miss them days…

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