Tags: Kate OBeirne | obituary | conservative | woman

Remembering Kate O'Beirne – Editor, Author, Mentor to Many

Remembering Kate O'Beirne – Editor, Author, Mentor to Many
Kate O'Beirne (National Review)

By Tuesday, 25 April 2017 10:19 PM Current | Bio | Archive

News of the death of Kate O'Beirne on Sunday evoked memories of the forums on politics and policies on which we served together. That's where I got to know the former "National Review" Washington editor with the quick Irish wit.

In 2006, we were on a panel discussion of the upcoming midterm election carried by cable TV. Syndicated columnist Robert Novak and House Whip Roy Blunt, R-Mo., were on the panel with Kate and me. The moderator was Paul Weyrich, one of the founding fathers of the modern conservative movement.

After the show, my parents called, and I expected them to tell me how happy they were I was in such distinguished company. Not exactly — they wanted to know all about Kate, and they loved her sense of humor.

"The voter approval of the Republicans," went one of her lines, "is not much higher than Al Gore's grade point average at Harvard."

A few years earlier, Kate and I were discussing the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) which would legally define marriage as between a man and a woman.

Strongly supportive of the measure, veteran pro-family advocate O'Beirne was nonetheless wary its principal sponsor was a congressman who had made multiple trips to the altar.

"I realize he's glad he's supportive of marriage after having so many of them himself," she quipped, "but couldn't they have found a sponsor who was married just once?

That was Kate O'Beirne in a nutshell.

The former President Ronald Reagan administration official and pundit had a treasure trove of quips and one-liners on which she easily drew on and usually stole the show — whether it was "Hardball," "the McNeil-Lehrer Report," "The Capital Gang," or "To the Contrary" (usually amid an all-female panel in which she was the lone conservative).

Good humor and strong values were things the young Kate Walsh had in her heritage. One of four daughters of a traditional Irish Catholic family, she was a graduate of Good Counsel College (N.Y.) and St. John's University Law School in Queens.

Before law school, she worked on the 1970 U.S. Senate race of Conservative Party nominee James Buckley and, following his upset election over both major party nominees, she went to work on his Washington staff.

After marrying U.S. Army officer James O'Beirne and raising two sons, Kate joined the Reagan administration in 1985 as a deputy assistant secretary of Health and Human Services. After the administration ended three years later, Kate went to work for the conservative Heritage Foundation and rose to become its vice president for government relations.

Before, during, and after her work at National Review in the 1990's, and her joining the "talking head" punditocracy, Kate O'Beirne devoted many a free moment to helping young conservative women get situated in Washington.

Sometimes her involvement on their behalf was life-changing.

"After five years in Washington, I told Kate back in 1998 that perhaps it was time to move on — perhaps home to Texas and to run for office," recalled Genevieve Wood, who had interned for Rep. Jack Kemp, R.-N.Y., and worked for different conservative groups. "But Kate told me we needed conservative women in Washington, D.C., who would stand up and speak for conservative causes. She felt I could best use my talents here."

Within 30 minutes of leaving O'Beirne's office, Wood received a phone call from Cliff May, press secretary at the Republican National Committee.

"He said 'I talked to Kate O'Beirne, and she said I have to hire you," Wood told Newsmax. "And he did."

After serving as deputy press secretary to the RNC, Wood went on to a distinguished career as pundit, television coach, and correspondent for the "Daily Signal" publication — in effect, following a trail blazed by Kate O'Beirne.

Kate O'Beirne was a person of consequence in the modern conservative movement as well as someone who touched the lives of many — for the better.

John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.

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Kate O'Beirne was a person of consequence in the modern conservative movement as well as someone who touched the lives of many — for the better.
Kate OBeirne, obituary, conservative, woman
Tuesday, 25 April 2017 10:19 PM
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