Robert Novak, Corvette Owner And Political Commentator, Dead At 78

Robert Novak, who achieved notoriety in the 1960s as a political columnist and in 2008 as the driver of a Corvette involved in a hit-and-run accident, died of a brain tumor today at his Washington home.

Novak originally achieved notoriety as half of the political writing team, with the great Rowland Evans, of the syndicated column "Inside Report," which debuted the same year as the split-window Corvette coupe and would eventually become the longest-running syndicated column in U. S. history. In 1985, Novak joined CNN's political debate show "Crossfire," which was also the name of a fuel-injection system that debuted on the Corvette just three years earlier, although Chevrolet did use the hyphenated form of the title, "Cross-Fire." In 2003, as the Corvette celebrated its 50th anniversary with special badging, Novak became embroiled in scandal for his public identification of Valerie Plame as a CIA agent. He purchased his Corvette, a black convertible, shortly thereafter

Novak's accident was little more than a year ago; he struck the pedestrian, 86-year-old homeless man Don Clifford Liljenquist, in an incident that many chose to interpret as an uncannily apt metaphor for the modern neo-conservative movement, if not for Corvette ownership. Novak was stopped by a man on a bicycle — the make and model of which is unimportant — was detained, and was later fined $50.

The announcement of his tumor came just days later, and there is some speculation that it may have been a legitimate factor in the accident, as failure to notice dramatic but sudden occurrences may be a sign of damage to the central nervous system.

Whatever one's beliefs, political discourse will be less interesting without Novak, who undoubtedly had a sense of theater and seemed to love playing the cartoon villain at every opportunity. He was also rumored to habitually flip other drivers the bird from the window of his ‘Vette while navigating heavy traffic, a sentiment of which drivers of every type of car and political stripe can certainly approve. [Gawker]