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RIP Charley Reese

The longtime Orlando Sentinel columnist who was one of the first conservatives to speak against the Iraq War has died. The paper’s obituary gives a precis of Reese’s worldview:

A self-described “constitutional purist,” he started working for the Sentinel in 1972 and two years later began writing a column that would continue through 2001.

“He was more concerned with the individual, and he felt that the government should be more of a servant of the people,” said Manning Pynn, a friend and a retired Sentinel editorial page editor.

Reese’s writing developed an intensely loyal following during a time when metropolitan Orlando was a decidedly more conservative region than it is today.

Still, Reese did not always follow the conservative line, and sometimes embraced a libertarian viewpoint instead. His readers did not always agree with him, said Jane Healy, who was a longtime Sentinel editorial page editor.

“He was very blunt, and he told it like it was,” Healy said. “Nothing was too controversial for him. He really was one of a kind.”

Eric Garris of Antiwar.com, which often ran Reese’s columns, remembers him here.

Somewhat ironically, considering his later view of Bush’s wars, Reese was pivotal in electing him president in the first place. He had supported Pat Buchanan in the past, but at the critical moment in 2000 backed Bush, and an influential independent conservative adding to the Republican column even a handful of votes that might otherwise have been up for grabs or have sat out the election would have been enough to tip Florida. But that’s just politics. Reese was a great columnist and a man of conscience, and it’s a shame we don’t have more writers like him.

about the author

Daniel McCarthy is the editor of Modern Age: A Conservative Review, and Editor-at-Large of The American Conservative. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, USA Today, The Spectator, The National Interest, Reason, and many other publications. Outside of journalism he has worked as internet communications coordinator for the Ron Paul 2008 presidential campaign and as senior editor of ISI Books. He is a graduate of Washington University in St. Louis, where he studied classics. Follow him on Twitter.

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