Thursday, December 21, 2006

Personal Aside: A Photo from the Past. Long Past.

Here from the archives is a photo that shows what a number of us looked like thirty years ago. It was taken in Washington at a seminar put on by Paul Weyrich, an intellectual leader of the conservative movement who is seated at the far right. Weyrich was the first president of the Heritage Foundation and gave the Republican party a refreshing burst of integrity with Heritage and with his own organization, the Free Congress Foundation. A tragic confluence of circumstances, accident and ill-health, caused surgeons to amputate both of Paul’s legs—but today he is still running things with his acerbic wit and intellectual hardihood intact.

At the other end of the picture is a young man you have seen repeatedly on national television: Mort Kondracke, then of the “Sun-Times” and now the editor of t he prestigious Capitol Hill newspaper “Roll Call” and a regular commentator on Fox News. Mort tragically lost his beloved wife to advanced Parkinson’s a few years ago. He is now more properly aligned with centrist politics and commentary rather than liberal reporting and is an expert on foreign and defense policy.

And who is that rabble-rouser with tie askew and shockingly dark, reddish hair? It was in the `70s era where the Republican party thought it had nowhere to go but down. Nixon and Watergate had happened; Jimmy Carter had re-taken parts of the South; Gerald Ford was retired and only a few old horses remained to be considered for the future…one of whom was an oldster then serving as governor of California. We were talking at that panel about a favorite subject of mine: how movements…be they civil rights…peace…labor…have shaped our politics—and I was saying something Paul Weyrich agreed with: that if somehow religious people could find a political leader to galvanize their views on social and moral issues as well as foreign policy anent Communism, we just might win.

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