100 Most Influential “Conservatives” (41-60)
Posted by Joshua Price on November 4, 2007
Here is part three of take on The Daily Telegraph’s list of the 100 most influential conservatives.
41. EDWIN FEULNER
President, Heritage Foundation
Under Feulner’s leadership, the Heritage Foundation has became a world-renowned think tank after beginning as a small policy shop. A powerhouse of conservative ideas, it has had considerable influence during the Bush years.
Founded by Feulner, Heritage has grown in Washington from a nine-member staff working out of a rented office on Capitol Hill in 1977 to a 200-person organisation occupying two huge office buildings close to the US Capitol. Feulner defines its mission as formulating and promoting policies based on “free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong national defence”.
The Heritage Foundation comes out with a lot of good conservative policy ideas, but it tends to more of a Republican thinktank as opposed to a conservative one.
42. KARL ROVE
Former adviser to George W. Bush
A year ago, Rove would have made any top 20 list. After the 2002 election, when Republicans made historic gains, he had the world at his feet and would probably have been second only to his boss in terms of influence among conservatives. But after 2006 and now, temporarily at least, out of politics, the man dubbed “the architect” by Bush is no longer at the centre of the right-wing universe.
His achievements as an election strategist, however, cannot be undone and it would be unwise to write Rove off. He was damaged by the Valerie Plame affair, about the unmasking of a CIA spy, and remains a top target for Democrats bent on revenge. Rove is writing a book and still vigorously defending the Bush legacy.
Here is a man who has helped to move the Republican Party to the left and therefore helping to destroy it. Rove may be a brilliant campaign manager but that’s all he is. He is interested in winning elections, not advancing a conservative movement.
43. TOM COBURN
Senator for Oklahoma
A medical doctor who is highly critical of career politicians, he was one of the leading lights of the class of 1994 in Congress who were swept into power by Newt Gingrich’s Republican Revolution. A passionate opponent of “pork barrel” spending, whether by Republicans or Democrats.
Regarded by many Republicans as the conscience of the conservative movement, he was one of the first to demand that Alberto Gonzales, then Attorney General, resign, as eventually he did. Received a 100 per cent rating from the American Conservative Union. Many grassroots activists have urged him to run for president.
Now here is one of the few great conservatives that we still have in the Senate. Tom Coburn, Jeff Sessions and Jim DeMint are some of the few truly conservatives we have left in the Senate. I have a lot of respect for Senator Coburn.
44. SEAN HANNITY
Cable and talk radio host
The heir to Rush Limbaugh. Television talk-show host for Fox News’ shows “Hannity & Colmes” and “Hannity’s America”. His talk radio show is second only in listenership to Limbaugh. There are few better ways for a conservative politician to reach their “base” electorate than by being interviewed by Hannity.
Since 2003 he has organised the annual “Freedom Concerts” which provide scholarship money to children of service members who have been killed or injured during military service. A high-profile supporter of Rudy Giuliani who has hosted a fundraiser for the former New York mayor, Hannity, 45, believes in winning power rather than ideological purity.
Hannity used to be a true conservative back in the days when he wrote Let Freedom Ring. Unfortunately, Hannity has let his fame and influence go to his head. He has become nothing but a conservative poser. He is a Republican homer and ardent supporter of Rudy Giuliani, a liberal. What’s interesting is that Hannity criticized, rightly so, for Democrats in 2004 voting against George W. Bush and not for John Kerry, however, now the tables appear to be turning and he seems to be advocating that same type of behavior. Conservatives should against Hillary even if they don’t support the Republican nominee. He believes in holding on to his power base so that he can continue to have visits to the White House and feel important. I will, however, applaud him for his Freedom Concerts that raise money for a great cause, but Hannity would do himself and his audience a favor if he’d get back to the way he was 4 or 5 years ago–enough with this elitist Republican garbage.
45. RICK SANTORUM
A former Congressman and Senator from Pennsylvania, Santorum was first in a dramatic upset in 1990. Swiftly became a leader of the anti-abortion movement and later became an outspoken opponent of gay marriage and liberal judges. Once compared homosexuality to bestiality. Although Roman Catholic, he is an idol of evangelicals.
Was the Democrats’ biggest scalp in 2006 when the then third-ranking Republican in the Senate lost his seat. Out of office, he has shifted his focus from social to national security issues, founding a project called “America’s Enemies” at the think tank “Ethics and Public Policy Centre”. Not yet 50, he will be a major conservative figure for a long time to come.
Rick Santorum is a good conservative. Unfortunately, he is no longer in the Senate. I am a big fan of Santorum.
46. ROBERT NOVAK
Reporter and columnist
Novak remains an accomplished shoe-leather reporter at 76, breaking stories each week. Has moved steadily to the Right since his early days at the Associated Press and Wall Street Journal. A consummate Washington insider, he cultivates sources assiduously and has boasted that those who don’t play ball with him become targets.
Less of a television presence these days, though still a frequent guest on Fox News, Novak was a central figure in the furore over the unmasking of the CIA operative Valerie Plame after he included her name in a column. A conservative rather than a Republican party loyalist, he converted from Judaism to Roman Catholicism and has been bitterly criticised by some fellow conservatives for his opposition to the Iraq war and scepticism about US support of Israel.
Not a conservative; he’s a Republican. Enough said.
47. JOE LIEBERMAN
Senator for Connecticut
The only person to make both of our lists. It is easy to forget that Lieberman could very easily have been a Democrat vice-president today if he had not lost so narrowly with Al Gore in 2000. Instead he is a pariah for many Democrats because of his full-throated support for the Iraq war and a bellicose stance against Iran.
He was re-elected for a fourth term in the senate as an ‘Independent Democrat’ in 2006 and holds considerable power in the chamber given the slimness of the Democrats’ majority. He makes the conservative list because he would be a natural Pentagon chief in any Republican administration or a key Capitol Hill ally of a President Giuiliani or a President McCain.
Lieberman is a respectable Democrat; he’s a conservative Democrat, but not a conservative. He is socially liberal. I will, however, praise him for his support for the War on Terror. And yes, I realize he’s an independent, but I am making the point that he’s a decent Democrats as opposed to the empty suits and skirts that fill the Democrat Party.
48. WILLIAM KRISTOL
Writer and commentator
Former chief of staff to Dan Quayle, Kristol – the son of neoconservative guru Irving Kristol and the historian Gertrude Himmelfarb – edits The Weekly Standard” magazine. Passionate advocate for toppling Saddam and, now, confronting Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Kristol moves effortlessly between the intersecting worlds of journalism, politics and think tanks and is a frequent face on Fox News. If Hillary Clinton wins the election, he will be at the forefront of opposition to everything she does. Strongly pro-Israel, he is one of the best connected conservatives in Washington.
He is a neocon that, along with people like Karl Rove, are helping destroy the Republican Party. It’s all about power and connections with these people, not about advocating and advancing conservatives. Besides, they don’t actually believe in true conservatism. They are for nation building on an unprecedented scale; they are for whatever will help Republicans get elected and amass more power. Neocons are also overwhelmingly globalist.
49. WILLIAM F. BUCKLEY
Author and commentator
The founder, in 1955, of National Review after writing his seminal “God and Man at Yale”, Buckley remains a colossus in American conservatism if no longer, at 81, a day-to-day player. Has criticised Bush for not being a true conservative and last year pronounced the Iraq war a failure.
A major influence on Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan, he served in the CIA in the 1940s and has written a series of novels based on a CIA character called Blackford Oakes. Got 13 per cent of the vote when he ran for New York mayor in 1965. A skilled debater and magnetic personality, Buckley is often described as the father of modern conservatism.
Now here is a true conservative icon. You would think the so-called conservatives of today’s Republican Party would listen to this man’s advice, but they haven’t and that’s why they are losing elections, not because the country has moved decidedly liberal.
50. ALEX CASTELLANOS
King of the Republican media consultants, Castellanos is one of the prime movers behind the formidably disciplined and well-organised campaign of Mitt Romney, who leads in the two key early-voting states of Iowa and New Hampshire.
Has been an adviser on television advertising to five presidential campaigns as well as helping elect eight senators and six governors. Was responsible for helping define John Kerry as a flip-flopping effete coward during the 2004 election. A native of Cuba, his parents arrived in the US in 1961 with a suitcase, two children and just eleven dollars.
Never heard of him.
51. CHARLES AND SAM WYLY
The Wyly brothers or “Wyly coyotes” are billionaire Texas businessmen and major Republican donors who paid for television advertisements that blasted John McCain in 2000 but later gave money to his 2008 campaign. Are estimated to have given about $10 million to Republican causes and $90 million to charity.
Born in Louisiana, Charles is the elder brother while Sam reportedly enjoys the higher net worth. Founded the craft chain Michaels and their interests include oil, mining, restaurant and retail holdings. Intensely private, their political contributions make them major players behind the scenes.
Never heard of them.
52. BRIT HUME
Managing Editor of Fox New Channel, Hume is a well-known political broadcaster and commentator. Hosts “Special Report with Brit Hume” and a frequent participant on “Fox News Sunday”. Highly accomplished news journalist who is never afraid to hold Republicans to account.
“Sure, I’m a conservative, no doubt about it,” Hume has said. “But I would ask people to look at the work.” Hume shuns Washington’s social life and is little interested in self-promotion. But his understated style and rigorous intellect are powerful attributes and his frequent targeting by the Left underlines his importance in the war of ideas.
While Brit Hume claims to be a conservative I think he’s more of a Republican. I have no problem with that because he’s not trying to lead conservatives, he’s a broadcaster, and unlike many shows on Fox now, at least he covers real news.
53. RICH LOWRY
Not yet 40 and already at the helm of “National Review” for a decade, the boyish Lowry is a major player. Has overseen the transition of the magazine to the internet world, fostering such talents as Ramesh Ponnuru, Jonah Goldberg and Kate O’Beirne, each of whom could have appeared on this list in their own right.
Frequent television commentator. Supported the Iraq war but has been critical of its execution and was an early advocate of additional troops. Has written well-received books about Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan. Never a Republican cheerleader, he remains a practical journalist and his unvarnished opinions on the 2008 candidates are keenly listened to.
Rich Lowry is a good conservative and able editor of National Review. Let’s hope National Review can stay conservative.
54. FRED THOMPSON
Actor and presidential candidate
Thompson’s relatively low position is because he has been a disappointing presidential candidate who has failed to capture the imagination of conservative voters unimpressed with the existing field. Although he remains a contender, he has yet to raise his game enough to be a plausible bet for the White House.
Best known as prosecutor Arthur Branch of NBC’s “Law & Order” show, Thompson was a Tennessee senator but made little impact on Capitol Hill. A true Washington insider who spent many years lobbying, sometimes for dubious clients, despite his down-home Southern demeanour. If he fails to secure the Republican nomination, expect him to disappear from politics.
Fred Thompson is a lukewarm conservative and that’s the worst kind. He’s also a non-factor in the Republican presidential primary. He’s not the answer.
55. JACK KEANE
Former Vice Chief of Staff, US armed forces
Co-author of the “surge”, drawn up at the American Enterprise Institute, that saw 30,000 extra US troops sent to Iraq. The early success of the strategy has enabled the president to face down opposition in Congress and guarantee US troops will stay in large numbers in Iraq until the end of his presidency and beyond.
A Vietnam veteran, General Keane retired from military service in 2003 rather than take the job of head of the US Army. A plainspoken New Yorker, he heads his own consulting firm and is a prominent media commentator.
Never heard of him.
56. GEORGE WILL
One of the pre-eminent conservative newspaper columnists. Rudy Giuliani cites Will’s assessment of him as an heir to Margaret Thatcher to anyone who will listen. A committed Republican who once coached Ronald Reagan before presidential debates, he is not afraid to be critical of the party.
His opposition in his “Washington Post” and “Newsweek” columns to George W. Bush’s nomination of Harriet Miers the Supreme Court helped scupper her chances. Also called on the Bush administration to be more honest about setbacks in Iraq. Has also written two best sellers about baseball.
For me, it’s hard to figure Will out sometimes. At times I believe he’s a true conservative and there are others when I think that he’s just another Republican home, or conveniently conservative when he thinks it will benefit Republicans. I just don’t know what to think about him anymore.
57. NORMAN PODHORETZ
Political scientist and writer
Awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by George W. Bush, the highest honour the US president can bestow on a civilian. Considered a sage among neo-conservatives and has been consulted by President Bush over what to do about Iran.
Currently serves as a senior foreign policy advisor to Rudy Giuliani in his presidential campaign. A strong supporter of the Iraq war and confronting “Islamofacscism”, Podhoretz, 77, has repeatedly called for the US to bomb Iran and predicted that Bush will do so before he leaves office.
I agree with his characterization of our enemies–Islamofascists–but here’s yet another advisor to Giuliani. I just can;t believe that a true conservative will aid or support Giuliani in any way. So, with that said, I can’t call him a true conservative.
58. VICTOR DAVIS HANSON
Military historian and columnist
His book Carnage and Culture appeared before the September 11 attacks, but its message that the “Western way of war” will ultimately prevail because of Western civilisation’s values, democracy and rationalism made it an immediate best-seller. Senior Fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institution and columnist with National Review Online.
It was promptly re-issued with an addition in which Hanson stated that the US would win the war on terror. A backer of Israel who is decidedly hawkish on the Middle East, he believes that the lack of freedom in the region is the root cause of Islamic terrorism.
Finally another a real conservative. I really enjoy his work.
59. LAURA BUSH
Mrs Bush has taken on an increasingly prominent role during the latter years of her husband’s presidency. She has made Burma her cause celebre and spoken passionately about the need for the junta there to free opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
The former librarian has also visited the Middle East to meet women’s groups and become a powerful political figure in her own right.
Seemingly nice lady, but a conservative. She is a big government Republican like her husband.
60. P J O’ROURKE
Satirist, journalist and author, O’Rourke’s best-selling books showed that conservatives too could have a sense of humour. His articles and essays remain essential reading for libertarians and anti-Leftists and his bons mots are still widely quoted.
Now a research fellow at the Cato Institute, he is a regular correspondent for The Atlantic Monthly, The American Spectator, and The Weekly Standard. A former hippie who was an early practitioner of gonzo journalism.
O’Rourke is another true conservative. His humor has given conservatives another to to advance our cause.