The Corner

Jim Guirard, Conservative Word Man

Some people serve their country for years, very well, without the recognition and thanks that is their due. So it was with Jim Guirard, who died on January 10 after a life well lived.

For many years, Jim was one of those old-line conservative Southern Democrats — conservative not in the false, George Wallace racial sense, but conservative intellectually for all the right reasons, starting with support for a strong defense and otherwise limited government. The grandson of legendary Louisiana secretary of state Wade O. Martin (a conservative who served in that post for 32 years!), Jim provided yeoman’s service for decades on Capitol Hill, including significant stints as chief of staff first for Senator Allen Ellender and then for Senator Russell Long, both Louisiana Democrats. (People forget that, despite his left-wing parentage, Long was often an ally of conservatives, especially on tax issues. Ellender, for his part, was a strong-defense, anti-Communist patriot and a consummate gentleman.) Jim was a Reagan ally from the very beginning of the Gipper’s administration, serving as national-affairs director for the American Security Council Foundation.

Finally retiring from Hill staff work, Jim spent another two decades lobbying — but only for carefully vetted conservative interests. And in recent years he founded what he called the TrueSpeak Institute, where he diligently toiled to convince conservatives that winning politics requires creative, persuasive language. Thus he advised that the Obama administration should be known as “Scamalot,” that leftist climate alarmists should be known as the “Branch Carbonian Cult,” whose adherents were the true “deniers” of solid science, and that big-money government programs should be known not as “stimulus” but “simulus,” meaning “a mere simulation of stimulation.” And on and on went Jim’s clever ideas, some of them more useful than others, but all of them fun and all of them aimed at pricking leftist pretensions.

My fellow NRO writer Deroy Murdock and I were particularly open to Jim’s suggestions and cited him by name occasionally, including in (but hardly limited to) Deroy’s column just last week, just as news of Jim’s death started to circulate. But Jim had the ear of a whole lot of other, quite influential, conservatives.

A high-spirited Louisianan through and through (and a big backer of former House Appropriations chairman Bob Livingston’s 1995–96 spree of significant spending cuts), Jim was a garrulous, fun-loving, generous friend, and a wonderful family man. (His wife, Ruth, is a treasure.) He loved taking friends out on his terrific boat to cruise up and down the Potomac, well provisioned with delectables. And he loved this country of ours with a deep and abiding devotion, all the days of his life. As of January 10, even heaven now enjoys an extra dose of warmth, fun, and right reason.

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