Conservatives are mourning the loss of one of their field commanders. Paul M. Weyrich died Dec. 18 at the age of 66. This is not an objective account of his life. I knew him, admired and respected him, and was very fond of him personally. Throughout his life he marshaled political forces against the enemies of this country and against the enemies of freedom around the world.
Those who saw him from a professional perspective knew him to be strong-willed and steadfast in his mission to promote conservative values. He was known as one the anchors of conservatism, but built coalitions with groups of all political views when conservative and constitutional issues could be advanced.
But the two things he would never compromise were issues involving the sanctity of human life and the defense of the nation. Those who knew him personally knew him to be very kind, sincere and compassionate. He appreciated those who worked with and for his organization, Free Congress Foundation. He presented himself in a very personal manner to those who worked for him, insisting that he be called “Paul” instead of “Mr. Weyrich.” He cared about each employee very deeply and enjoyed the fact that most of his employees became not only good friends with one another but also dear friends of his. Paul was owed respect for who he was, but he engendered fierce loyalty from his subordinates the same way a battled hardened colonel earned the respect of the men who followed him into battle. He believed so strongly in freedom and democracy that he used his platform to promote American ideals abroad.
In 1989, through visits to Soviet states and work with Soviet dissidents, Paul had determined that the Soviet Union was about to fall. At that time, virtually no one else in the world could conceive of such a concept; most European leaders thought that the “evil empire” would live forever. Paul presented his analysis to then President George H. W. Bush who, according to Paul, was surprised and told Paul that the CIA was telling him that the Soviet Union was a stable fixture that the U.S. would be forced to deal with for decades to come.
After the fall, Paul made frequent trips to Eastern Europe and the former Soviet states, including Russia, leading delegations to teach and train the local governments in Western democracy.
He worked tirelessly for the causes in which he believed. He never faded from the fight despite tremendous personal illness during the last 10 years of his life that would have driven an ordinary man to bed rest. Like a wounded soldier knowing there was something greater, he fought on and onward, refusing to bow — he posted his final column just hours before his death. He was a source of great wisdom for me while he was alive, his memory will be a great inspiration to me throughout the rest of my life. G-d Bless Paul Weyrich.
Scott Wheeler is executive director of the National Republican Trust PAC (GOPtrust.com), the nation’s third-largest political action committee.
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