Paul Weyrich, a leader of the conservative movement, was laid to rest today in Fairfax,Va.
Paul was not a household name. He was well known to many in Washington, certainly in Republican circles.
For Newsmax readers, he was an old friend. Almost from the beginning, Paul has been a contributing “Pundit” in Newsmax’s online commentary section.
When I heard of Paul’s passing last Thursday, I thought of Bill Buckley’s death this year.
When Buckley passed in February, he was eulogized as the intellectual father of Reagan conservatism. If Bill Buckley was the intellectual godfather, Paul Weyrich was the five-star general who oversaw the implementation of the Reagan Revolution in Washington.
The job couldn’t have fallen to a better, more decent man.
The great direct mail guru Richard Viguerie recently explained to me how Paul Weyrich masterminded the unraveling of the liberal chokehold over Congress and Washington.
As Richard related, it was the early 1970s and Paul convened a group of conservatives and told them he had devised a strategy to defeat the left. Paul had studied the left and “reverse engineered” it – he showed how liberal groups had created a series of think tanks and policy groups to move through legislation to create political and social change.
Paul soon began spearheading this effort to counter the left by using the left’s blueprint. In short order, he not only founded his organization, the Free Congress Foundation, but he was also a co-founder of The Heritage Foundation. Paul was also instrumental behind the scenes supporting many other groups and individuals.
In recent years Paul had been failing in health, and his influence had waned. I do believe that, had he been healthy, he would have been a much more vigorous opponent of many of George Bush’s initiatives. There is no doubt Bush and the Republicans in Congress had gone far off Reagan’s reservation.
In the past decade, under a Republican president and a Republican Congress, we witnessed the largest federal social spending increases in history.
America also became involved in costly wars that have damaged the nation and undermined the GOP. I know personally that Paul did not like these policies.
I recall my first meeting with him in the 1990s when I was a reporter for the New York Post. He had invited me to meet him in his Washington offices just around the corner from Union Station and close to Congress.
I took a taxi to his office and was about 10 minutes late for the meeting. Paul invited me into his office, and then launched an angry, verbal broadside at me for showing up late.
I humbly took the brow beating, letting him blow off his steam. I quickly changed the subject by talking about some of the issues that I thought were important to the country. Paul quickly cooled down.
This was vintage Paul Weyrich. He told you how he felt and where you stood with him. He was honest and forthright. It wasn’t a condescending anger. It was simply Paul being Paul.
He clearly held no long-term anger toward me for showing up a few minutes late at his office. I discovered later that he had recommended me for some jobs in Washington.
And any time I needed advice or assistance in the years I was both a journalist and building Newsmax, Paul was always available.
He was truly a “stand-up” guy despite having spent decades in Washington. He was an “un-Washington” type.
In September leading conservatives from around the country came together in Washington to honor Paul at a special dinner. It was a rare event, and I attended.
I was glad I did. Paul deserved the recognition, although he never really sought it.
When Paul passed last week, I was away from my office on a business trip.
It was somewhat eerie when I returned to see a letter on my desk from Paul.
In his handwritten letter he mentioned the tribute dinner and added, “The idea of the event was certainly not mine. I am not into honors.” Still, he said the occasion had been “fantastic” for him.
Unlike so many in Washington, Paul was not into honors and privilege.
His life was simply about doing what was right for his family, his Church and for the United States of America. For having such a man in Washington, I am indeed grateful.
Rest in peace, good and faithful soldier.
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