- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 12, 2012

Tony Blankley was as optimistic about his country and his party as ever as we met for lunch a year ago. On that day, his condition did not betray the gleam in Tony’s eye - the one he had always had, the one that conveyed an appreciative view of life in these United States, the home he and his parents came to visit and embrace many years ago.

Most who leave this world do so wanting it to endure. They have hopes for those they leave behind. But Tony had expectations.

He had confidence in us - his country and his fellow citizens - that never went lacking as he spoke of an America that he knew would always do more than simply “carry on.”

Whether you watched him on television, talked to him in person, or read one of his provocative pieces of prose, you were an audience to someone who harbored no curmudgeonly, narrow view of the future.

We would be more than OK, he would assure us, and people would do the right thing in the end, and the country is more resilient than we sometimes believe.

We liked the way he cheered us up and cheered us on and reminded us how far we’ve come; it was always grand. “America’s can-do spirit has been the wonder of the ages,” he once wrote. “It has raised us from a handful of farmers to the colossus of the planet.”

Tony was the thinking man and yet just as much the everyman. He was humility and good humor. As pundits and analysts go, he was a different kind of partisan.

He pulled his punches from a deep sense of history.

He boxed with grace and wit, and didn’t bombast to make a point.

His ability to frame conservative issues and values in a thoughtful, nonconfrontational way was a great gift to the Republican Party.

He will be missed by family and friends, party and country. And on those days when we want someone just like Tony to tell us that all will be OK, we will miss him even more.

May we remember this articulate, kind and exquisite man - and do more than carry on.

Tom Ridge is a former secretary of homeland security, governor of Pennsylvania and member of the House of Representatives.