The Washington Times - September 18, 2009, 06:44PM

The following is compiled by The Washington Times’ opinion staff.

 

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He loved America

There is so much to be said about Irving Kristol—his accomplishments, his capacious intellect, his personal generosity, his good humor and good sense—but somehow what always struck me about him was his profound and intense love of America. It leaps from every page of his immense body of work, it was always just below the surface of everything he did, and very often on the surface too. He was a model of what it means for an intellectual to be a patriot, and he did what every patriot strives to do: he strengthened his country, in good times and especially in bad. – Yuval Levin

 

A helping hand to legions

Kristol was, of course, a titan. There will be comparisons to William F. Buckley coming down the pike, I’m sure. I’m not sure I will agree with all of them. But there’s at least one respect in which they are very similar. We tend to discuss the public men, the men of letters who wrote and said brilliant things, coined pithy phrases. But what is often left out is the inside game behind the scenes. Kristol, like Buckley, helped legions of people find not just jobs, but a path in life. Like Buckley, he created lasting institutions that carried his ideas forward. He was a great and honorable man, slightly out of sync with the times which made him all the more astute at understanding them. – Jonah Goldberg

 

A builder of institutions

The number of institutions with which he was affiliated, or started, or helped grow into major centers of learning and thinking is hard to count. There is this institution, COMMENTARY, where he began working after his release from the Army following the conclusion of the Second World War. There were two other magazines in the 1950s, The Reporter and Encounter, which he helped found and whose influence on civil discourse was profound and enduring, even legendary. There was The Public Interest, the quarterly he co-founded in 1965 with Daniel Bell and then ran with Nathan Glazer for more than 30 years, which was the wellspring of neoconservative thinking on domestic policy issues. He helped bring a sleepy Washington think tank called the American Enterprise Institute into the forefront. And he made Basic Books into a publishing powerhouse that was, for more than 20 years, at the red-hot center of every major debate in American life. – John Podhoretz

 

A reminder that ideas matter

Probably Irving’s most frequently quoted mot concerned neoconservatism, the intellectual-political movement with which he is indelibly identified. “A neo-conservative,” he said, “is a liberal who has been mugged by reality.” That was the great gift Irving gave to his, to our, generation: an unforgettable reminder that ideas mattered because of the realities they nurtured or discouraged. He saw with a kindly but unflinching clarity what mischief the seductive lullabies of utopian fantasy had prepared for its acolytes. His passing is a sad loss not only to conservatives to but also to the nation: those eloquent reminders seem fewer and farther between these days, yet are ever more needful. – Roger Kimball