The Corner

Remembering Irving Kristol

Just a word on the passing of Irving Kristol.

Irving was a great man, a model and courageous public intellectual, and a giant in the conservative movement. He brought to it enormous intelligence and scholarship, great learning and wisdom, a jolly good sense of humor, and all the right sensibilities. He embodied a conservatism that was principled, sophisticated, and self-confident; one capacious in its spirit; one which demonstrated a deep love for our country and its founders. He was both a scholar and a shrewd political thinker. There was seemingly nothing he could not write about, always well and with wit. He was also — and not incidentally — a marvelous and generous husband, father, and friend.

When I joined the Bush administration, one of the first things I did was invite Irving and his remarkable wife Bea to the White House Mess for lunch. I did it because, while I did not know them really well, I knew them well enough. I delighted in their company and always learned from them. But I also did it as a very small way of honoring them, to show them how much they meant to me and to show them how much they meant to so many of us. I wish I had said to them better than I did, and better than I have, what an extraordinary man Irving Kristol was.

He will be terribly missed. But his impact on generations of other thinkers, and on the intellectual and political life of the nation, will go on, and on, and on.

“To the man who pleases him,” the book of Ecclesiastes says, “God gives wisdom, knowledge and happiness.”

Irving Kristol must have pleased God. A lot.

Requiescat in pace.

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