- The Washington Times - Saturday, December 9, 2006

Jeane J. Kirkpatrick, President Reagan’s favorite Democrat and his outspoken ambassador to the United Nations, died yesterday at 80.

Mrs. Kirkpatrick passed away in her sleep between 5 a.m. and 6 a.m. at her Bethesda home, aide Andrea Harrington said.

The first woman to serve as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Mrs. Kirkpatrick was a lifelong crusader against communism and advocated crushing the Soviet-led movement toward global totalitarianism rather than containing it.

“She defended the cause of freedom at a pivotal time in world history,” President Bush said yesterday. “Jeane’s powerful intellect helped America win the Cold War.”

She was courted personally by Mr. Reagan and his Republican presidential nominating team in 1980 to serve as a foreign policy adviser, and she supported his election. Mrs. Kirkpatrick won Senate confirmation as chief U.S. representative at the United Nations in 1981 but remained a Democrat throughout Mr. Reagan’s first term. She switched parties only after leaving public office in 1985.

Mrs. Kirkpatrick said part of the reason she switched parties was because “Democrat welfare policy not only was not working but was damaging to the people who were the supposed beneficiaries. I believe in self-reliance.”

Intensely averse to mincing words, she shared some policy and personality traits with John R. Bolton, who recently resigned as U.N. ambassador and who wept publicly yesterday in recalling his years of friendship with Mrs. Kirkpatrick as a colleague at the American Enterprise Institute think tank.

“I benefited very greatly. It really is very sad for America. … She will be greatly missed,” Mr. Bolton said.

In the months before her death, Mrs. Kirkpatrick’s foreign-policy views did not conform to those of either party.

“I don’t think we have an obligation to engage in a new imperialism,” she said, adding that she is “skeptical of nation building. It is extremely difficult for one nation to seriously remake another nation.”

She called Mr. Bush’s foreign policy “a little too interventionist for my taste, frankly, but not across the board. I am very much in favor of his actions in Afghanistan and have not opposed them in Iraq.”

Pat Buchanan, aide to Presidents Reagan, Nixon and Ford, said yesterday that Mrs. Kirkpatrick “put her pen, voice and intellect all at the service of her country for all the decades I knew her. She was a lioness in fighting and winning the Cold War.”

Her occasional libertarian instincts conflicted at times with her Christian morals.

“Look, I am a serious Christian,” she told The Washington Times last spring. “No, I don’t favor the constitutional amendment [banning homosexual ‘marriage.’] On the other hand, I don’t want to promote same-sex marriage.”

She recently told The Times that she believed government has an important role to play in helping people.

And people seemed to relate to Mrs. Kirkpatrick, who had the ability to speak to like-minded voters, such as the ones who crossed party lines to twice elect Mr. Reagan.

Heritage Foundation President Edwin J. Feulner, for example, recalled a day when a truck driver spotted Mrs. Kirkpatrick on the street while she was serving as U.N. ambassador. The driver leaned out of his window and yelled, ” ‘Give ‘em hell, Jeane!’ ”

“Before Jeane, we never had such a bold and brilliant representative for freedom in the United Nations, an ambassador who earned support from policy-makers and truck drivers alike,” Mr. Feulner said.

She was a close ideological and personal friend of the late Ann Crutcher, the first editorial page editor of The Times. While U.N. ambassador, she flew back to Washington, penning on the back of an envelope a moving eulogy that she delivered at Mrs. Crutcher’s funeral.

Mrs. Kirkpatrick, who shared a certain imperious quality with former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, pleased some conservatives as a forthright, often acerbic critic of the U.N. bureaucracy and its domination by member states committed to neither democracy nor human rights. Yet Mrs. Kirkpatrick made it clear that rather than pulling the United States out of the United Nations, she wanted to preserve the institution by improving it.

“Always ardent and often provocative, her commitment to an effective United Nations was clear during her tenure and in her later career,” U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said yesterday.

Mrs. Kirkpatrick grew up in Duncan, Okla., where her father drilled for oil and her mother kept books. She spent two years at Stephens College in Columbia, Mo., then earned a bachelor’s degree from Barnard College in New York and eventually a doctorate in government from Columbia University.

Mrs. Kirkpatrick authored three books: “The Right Versus Might,” “The Withering Away of the Totalitarian State … and Other Surprises” and “Legitimacy and Force.”

She is survived by two sons. Her husband, Evron, a former U.S. intelligence officer and scholar, died in 1995.

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