100 Most Influential “Conservatives” (21-40)
Posted by Joshua Price on November 3, 2007
Here is the second part of my assessment of The Daily Telegraph‘s list of the 100 most influential conservatives.
21. GEORGE W. BUSH
President of the United States
Derided by liberals and lambasted by disappointed conservatives, George W Bush approaches the final year of his presidency with poll ratings stuck in the doldrums and his hands tied in Washington by an antagonistic Democratic-controlled Congress. His aides hope, at best, that he will be vindicated by history.
Bush fails to make our top 20 list because of his failure to shape conservatism or the Republican party despite an historic opportunity to do so after 2002. When he leaves office, his political influence looks likely to all but disappear. The “surge” offers some hope for Iraq and no US president could have shrunk from confronting Islamic fanaticism after 9/11. But even supporters of the Iraq invasion judge him harshly for failing the competency test in a time of war.
Yet another fraud. Bush is only conservative on tax policy and judicial appointments. He has fought a politically correct, liberal war and it is costing us. He has spent more than Bill Clinton, and yes Bush loyalists, that’s throwing out defense and security spending. He is helping sell out our national sovereignty. Should I continue? I better move on. Just realize that Bush is not a conservative, he is a global Republican.
President, American Enterprise Institute
When DeMuth recently announced he was stepping down as AEI president after 21 years at the helm of what he turned into the world’s premier think tank, David Frum (see 40 below) remarked that it was “just remotely possible that there may be someone whose contributions to American intellectual life over the past two decades have equalled those of Christopher DeMuth”.
AEI provided many of the major players in the Bush administration and some of its most successful ideas. The “surge” policy for Iraq was drawn up by its experts in AEI brainstorming sessions. An accomplished economics and law scholar in his own right, DeMuth’s influence on conservative thought will be felt for decades to come.
Never heard of this guy so I don’t know enough to gauge his conservatism.
23. ROGER AILES
President, Fox News Channel
Veteran media consultant for Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and George Bush Snr. Along with the legendary operative Lee Attwater, he was responsible for Bush Snr’s against-the-odds victory over Michael Dukakis in 1988 by helping to portray the then Massachusetts governor as a weak leader lacking in humanity.
The presence of so many Fox personalities on this list is testament to the influence of the Murdoch-owned cable channel. Presenting an antidote to what conservatives see as the ingraining liberal bias of the mainstream media, Fox has redefined television news under Ailes’s direction since he was brought in to run it in 1996.
He works for Rupert Murdoch, that’s all I need to know. Murdoch had a good thing going with Fox News until he brought the should-be tabloid reporters Geraldo Rivera and Greta Van Susteren on board. Now all Fox seems to cover is the disappearance of people or where O.J. Simpson’s next pretrial court hearing will take place. Fox News has become no better than CNN. In the end, Murdoch and Ailes are nothing more than global Republicans.
President, Americans for Tax Reform
One of the authors of Newt Gingrich’s “Contract with America”, Norquist’s regular Wednesday morning meeting remains the preeminent conservative brainstorming session in Washington. A pioneering anti-tax crusader, signing Norquist’s pledge is a must for Republicans wanting to cement their conservative credentials.
Was damaged by his close association with Jack Abramoff (see No 38) but was already a bogeyman for the Left. A passionate proponent of monuments to Ronald Reagan, he has been accused of being too close to Arab causes by some pro-Israel conservatives. Norquist will always be controversial but shows no signs of becoming any less effective.
Good man on taxes, but again, he is a Republican first and a conservative second.
25. R. EMMETT TYRRELL JR
Founder and editor-in-chief, American Spectator magazine
Bob Tyrrell was a relentless digger of dirt on President Bill Clinton and has not let up since the 42nd president left office. His latest work The Clinton Crack-Up: The Boy President’s Life After the White House does not disappoint and he even managed to crash his subject’s 60th birthday party.
At the helm of the American Spectator since 1967, Tyrrell has been described as a modern-day H. L. Menken. Tom Wolfe said he was “the funniest political essayist in years”. His Saturday Night Club– which always meets on a weekday and has no members – brings together conservative journalists and thinkers who pepper a presidential candidate or Supreme Court judge with questions. Expect him to be like a terrier clinging to the pantsuit leg of a President Hillary Clinton.
A true, well-respected conservative. I personally respect Mr. Tyrrell.
26. JAMES DOBSON
Chairman, Focus on the Family
Probably the most influential evangelical Christian in the country and could have a decisive impact on the 2008 if he follows through on his threat to help form a third party if Rudy Giuliani wins the Republican nomination. Backing Giuliani, he has argued “could result in the abandonment of cherished beliefs that conservative Christians have promoted and defended for decades”.
His daily radio show is broadcast in more than a dozen languages and on over 7,000 stations worldwide as well as about 60 US television stations. Reputed to possess an email list of 2.5 million supporters, he believes he is fighting “a culture war that is aimed right straight at the institution of the family”.
A great religious and conservative leader. Dr. Dobson is someone that the Republican elite better start listening to.
Difficult to categorise such an iconoclast but the British-born Hitchens – he is now an American citizen – had a very public fallout with the Left and has been a strong backer of the Iraq war. A hard-drinking former Trotskyist, he is aligned with leading neo-conservatives and he was even invited into the White House to address George W. Bush’s staff.
An outspoken atheist and critic of both evangelical Christians and fanatical Muslims, the eclectic Hitchens target list has included Mother Theresa, Ronald Reagan, Bill and Hillary Clinton, Michael Moore and Henry Kissinger. Brother of British conservative columnist Peter Hitchens, with whom he has testy relations.
What? How in the world does this guy make this list? He’s a self-proclaimed atheist, and not that conservative.
28. DICK MORRIS
Has turned opposition to Hillary Clinton into a one-man industry. The former White House adviser to Bill Clinton – he was forced to resign after revelations of trysts with a toe-sucking prostitute – he first worked with the Clintons in 1978. The brains behind Bill Clinton’s “triangulation” strategy – which Mrs Clinton may well employ in a general election.
A very shrewd analyst, Morris has joked that he will emigrate if Mrs Clinton wins the White House. In fact, he will probably be jubilant – he would have a guaranteed place on the front line of the ensuing political war for at least the next four years. Has worked with the UK Independence Party.
I don’t trust anyone who used to work for the Clintons–no matter what terms they left on. Besides, he’s demonstrated countless times how he is only about Republicans, not conservatives.
29. ALAN GREENSPAN
Former chairman Federal Reserve
The ultimate political weathervane, Greenspan, 81, has been critical of George W. Bush recently after backing his tax cuts and slipping chameleon-like into the Texan’s circle despite his close previous relationship with Bill Clinton. Received the ultimate Washington accolade – a hagiography by Bob Woodward entitled “Maestro”.
Recently retired after a record 18 years in the job, he remains a towering figure in the world of economic policy and, along with his wife Andrea Mitchell of NBC television, a fixture on the Georgetown cocktail party circuit. John McCain recently joked that he’d appoint Greenspan to review the nation’s tax code even if he were dead.
Eh, maybe. I’m just not sold on him. He did a nice job as Fed Chairman, but I just don’t know.
30. WAYNE LAPIERRE
Executive vice-president, National Rifle Association
Never underestimate the power of the gun lobby. Al Gore probably lost the 2000 election because of his weak stance on Second Amendment issues and Rudy Giuliani has been quick to make his peace with the group he once branded as “extremists”.
LaPierre has been in post since 1991 and, since Charlton Heston stepped down in 2003 after being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, he has been the NRA’s most prominent voice. Every weekday he delivers a podcast about gun rights. LaPierre seems content with Giulaini’s shift, stating: “It’s a good thing if a politician sees the light.”
I don’t know enough about him but I am little concerned that he appears to be content with Giuliani’s stance on gun control.
31. MARK LEVIN
Talk Radio host
Nicknamed “the Great One”, Levin went from a political adviser in the Reagan administration to one of the most popular talk radio figures in the US. A New York-based lawyer, he often lambasts Supreme Court rulings, adopting a strict constructionist approach to the constitution and railing against activist judges.
Levin still practices law, heading up the Landmark Legal Foundation in Washington. Has pitted himself against the Democratic presidential candidates, saying they will never talk about “us winning in Iraq, the beauty of the American capitalist system and following and believing the Constitution”.
Only truly conservative on judicial issues. He is nothing more than a homer for the Republican Party.
32. BILL SIMON
Policy director, Rudy Giuliani campaign
Ran for California governor in 2002, losing to Gray Davis, and again in 2003 as the conservative alternative to Arnold Schwarzenegger before dropping out and endorsing the Terminator. A long-time Rudy Giuliani friend, he is the main power behind the scenes in the former New York mayor’s campaign.
A social conservative, he has honed Giuliani’s conservative credentials by stressing his achievements including lowering taxes and cleaning up New York City rather than his views in favour of abortion rights. So far, the campaign strategy seems to be working and Simon would be a key figure in a Giuliani administration.
May be a conservative but I have serious questions about someone cozying up to Giuliani.
33. ANDREW SULLIVAN
Blogger and journalist
Just clinging on to the conservative label, Andrew Sullivan, British born and Oxford educated but with an accent now somewhere in the middle of the Atlantic, is one of America’s pre-eminent bloggers, currently with the Atlantic Monthly.
Argues that the Republican Party has betrayed its roots and has slammed George W. Bush for his conduct of the Iraq war and his alleged ambivalence towards torture. HIV-positive, he is a crusader for gay rights. Supported John Kerry in 2004 and is backing Barack Obama this time but still holds affection for John McCain and Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Anyone who has affection for Arnold Schwarzenegger can’t be a true conservative. Sorry, end of story.
34. DAVID HOROWITZ
Activist and writer
Former Marxist and radical student who now dogs his one-time ideological allies. Runs the David Horowitz Freedom Centre and edits the website FrontPage Magazine. Founded Students for Academic Freedom and is affiliated with Campus Watch.
Strongly pro-Israel, he is a relentless hunter of bias in universities. A persistent critic of Hollywood values and opponent of affirmative action and slavery reparations for blacks. Regular on television and fearless speaker at university campuses despite the sometimes violent protests against him.
Finally a another true conservative.
35. TOM DELAY
Former Republican leader in House of Representatives
The no-nonsense Texan was known as “the Hammer” for his rigid enforcement of party rule in the House of Representatives after the Republican Revolution of 1994. Serving first as party whip and then from 2003 to 2005 as House majority leader, he played a key role in the impeachment of President Bill Clinton in 1998 and then ensuring support in Congress for President George W Bush.
Was also a driving force behind the so-called “K Street project” to manoeuvre Republicans into top positions with influential lobbying firms. Stepped down in 2006 under investigation by a Texas district attorney for allegedly breaching campaign finance law but DeLay remains a powerful and popular figure with the party’s conservative base. Believed to pondering a grassroots leadership role.
Tom Delay used to be known as “The Hammer,” now I have no idea what he’s called. I still respect him and wish he was still in office. He is a real conservative.
36. MARY MATALIN
A former Republican spokesperson, staffer on President George Bush Snr’s 1992 campaign and CNN television host, Matalin became a key aide to Vice President Dick Cheney. She is married to James Carville, the leading Democratic strategist. Since leaving the White House, she has been running Threshold, a new conservative publishing imprint at Simon & Schuster.
Now a senior strategist with the Fred Thompson campaign, she has also been a leading figure raising funds to pay the legal fees of Lewis “Scooter” Libby, her colleague in Cheney’s office who was sentenced to jail for lying during the CIA leak investigation. George W. Bush has already commuted Libby’s sentence, expect Matalin to be a prime mover in the campaign to secure a full pardon.
Republican not a conservative.
37. FREDERICK KAGAN
A military historian and leading light at the American Enterprise Institute, Kagan was the principal force behind the study that led to the “surge” policy being adopted by George W. Bush. Soon dubbed the “real Iraq Study Group” report, it was a “awkish rival to the official ISG report of James Baker and Lee Hamilton that was shelved by the Bush administration.
A former West Point lecturer, he is married to fellow defence academic Kimberly Kagan and is the brother of Robert Kagan, an accomplished military writer and foreign policy strategist. Both brothers are closely associated with the neo-conservative school of thought.
Never heard of him.
38. JACK ABRAMOFF
Currently serving a sentence of five years and 10 months in jail after pleading guilty to charges of corruption and defrauding American-Indian tribes, Abramoff went from being the go-to Republican lobbyist in Washington to “Jack who?” as his former associates sought to deny they knew him.
Ordered to pay restitution of more than $21 million, his case sparked an extensive corruption investigation that led to the conviction of two White House officials, a congressman and nine other lobbyists and congressional aides. The stench of corruption was a key factor in the Republican mid-term elections defeat of 2006. Abramoff’s unwelcome – for Republicans – influence will continue into 2008.
How is he influential? He’s in jail. Regardless, he’s nothing more than a Republican homer and power seeker.
39. DREW CAREY
Comedian and actor
A libertarian more than a conservative, Carey, presenter of “Whose Line is it Anyway?”, has been coy about any connection to the Republican party –which can be the kiss of death in Hollywood. “Just because I make fun of Democrats doesn’t make me a Republican,” he quipped recently when asked about his politics.
Has aligned himself with the Reason Foundation, a libertarian think tank which has started an online series called The Drew Carey Project. Held a “smoke-in” in 1998 to defy anti-smoking laws and has spoken out against the Iraq war. Embracing the libertarian label, he said: ‘You don’t know what you are sometimes until someone puts a name to it.”
Really? No, seriously. Really? Since when are libertarians classified as conservatives? He’s definitely NOT a conservative.
40. DAVID FRUM
Canadian journalist and former speechwriter to George W Bush who helped craft the “axis of evil” phrase. An ally of the neo-conservative Richard Perle, he has been a prominent support of the war against terror and a convinced hawk on the Middle East. Prolific blogger on National Review Online.
Has just written a book on the future of conservatism, to be published in December, entitled: Comeback: Conservatism That Can Win Again. An American Enterprise Institute scholar, Frum recently became a foreign policy adviser to Rudy Giuliani and could well return to the White House in a Giuliani administration.
I keep sounding like a broken record but anyone who is associating with Giuliani leads me to believe that they are not very conservative, or that they nothing but Republicans first and conservatives second.