Paul M. Weyrich, RIP

[Since I wrote this, Paul Weyrich’s last column was published the day of his death, “The Next Conservatism, A Serious Agenda for the Future” on the Free Congress Foundation website.]

I am saddened by Paul Weyrich’s death. For forty years, Paul was one of the conservative movement’s most honorable and effective leaders. Paul put backbone in the conservative movement. He achieved so much on so many of the great political issues of our time; and even when the cause seemed lost, Paul never gave up and never compromised his principles.

Paul was a brilliant political strategist and tactician. He founded or helped found many of the major conservative groups in Washington and played the key role in developing the methods and institutions of conservative grassroots activism. Conservatives still have a lot to learn from Paul’s action-oriented grassroots organizing. Some people accused him of being too rigid and demanding too much ideological purity. In fact, Paul was tactically flexible, but he understood that the tendency of Republicans in office to capitulate pre-emptively could not be a winning strategy.

Paul was a patriot. He believed in our founding principles of liberty and limited government embodied in the Constitution. And he was fearless in standing up for those principles and in speaking truth to power, especially when it was the powerful people on his side who were the ones cutting corners. The fact that his dedication to principle often came at significant personal disadvantage didn’t bother him.

Paul was a man of rare character, which was grounded in his abiding Christian faith. For the past several years, he was terribly ill and in constant pain, but he suffered it bravely. Paul was as kind and helpful as he was tough and uncompromising. He combined seriousness of purpose with a puckish sense of humor.

I am grateful for all the help and counsel Paul gave me over the years, and I feel blessed that he was my comrade and friend. May he rest in peace.