Dean Barnett has died, finally succumbing to the cystic fibrosis he had been battling all his life.
I didn't know Dean personally, but I felt a special connection to him nonetheless. A New Yorker article by doctor-writer Atul Gawande sparked a conversation between the two of us, who came at the problem from the patient's side. At the time he was writing under the pseudonym James Dwight at his old blog, Soxblog (still linked in the sidebar). Eventually Dean came "out" and started using his real name. He became a co-blogger at Hugh Hewitt's Townhall.com blog, and frequently guest-hosted on Hewitt's radio show, in spite of his unbelievable (and I believe near-incomprehensible to non-natives of Boston) accent. He moved over to the Weekly Standard, where he wrote for both the blog and the magazine.
I never met Dean, but I looked forward to reading him every day. He had a particularly nice way of taking apart an argument, on its facts and merits, and not based on the person who wrote it. He was especially good at dismantling Peggy Noonan's genteel ravings, and I have missed him keenly during this last wave of anti-Palin hysteria.
His pamphlet, The Plucky Smart Kid with the Fatal Disease, is as easy a read as you will ever find about facing a life of adversity with kindness, humor, and grace.
Dean Barnett was an inspiration to me. God bless him, and grant peace to him, and all his family and friends.