Irving Kristol Dead at 89

First reactions to the "Godfather" of neoconservatism's death

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Irving Kristol, the legendary writer, editor and conservative philosopher, is dead at the age of 89. "Nostalgia is one of the legitimate and certainly one of the most enduring of human emotions; but the politics of nostalgia is at best distracting, at worst pernicious," he once wrote. Something to keep in mind as his colleagues in the commentariat remember him. First thoughts on the life of neoconservatism's godfather.

  • The Weekly Standard: "His wisdom, wit, good humor, and generosity of spirit made him a friend and mentor to several generations of thinkers and public servants."
  • Mark Hemmingway at The National Review: "The godfather of neoconservatism was 89. I'm sure there will be many tributes to come, but for right now all I can think to say is what an immeasurable loss."
  • Rich Lowry at The National Review: "I'm very sad to hear the news of the passing of Irving Kristol. Our condolences to Bill and the entire family. You'll be hearing much more about Irving's historic contribution to conservatism and to the country in this space and elsewhere. R.I.P."
  • Adam Bernstein at The Washington Post: Kristol helped, "create a synthesis of Cold War Democrats and Reagan White House anticommunist hawks, which proved decisive in influencing foreign and military policy in the 1980s."
  • Karl Rove: An, "intellectual entrepreneur who helped energize several generations of public policy thinkers."
  • Sonny Bunch at Conventional Folly: "Wrapped up in the demagoguery regarding the Iraq War — and the desire to turn neocon into a slur — people often forget the genesis of the neoconservative movement: They were hawks on the cold war and progressive on civil rights issues, free-marketers but not religiously so."
  • Christian Brose at Foreign Policy: "The roster of significant (and diverse) thinkers who got their start because of Irving's investment in his young staff -- from Bob Kagan, to Michael Lind, to Mark Lilla, to many others -- is as worthy a legacy as what he achieved through the countless articles he wrote himself and published from others."
We have lost an intellectual giant. Irving Kristol was an inventive entrepreneur of ideas who was boundless in his wit, creativity, and insight. Irving understood that ideas have consequences - and his immense influence was the result of his unique ability to shape the American political landscape with the power of creative thought. Irving was a genuine patriot who eloquently and forcefully defended America's values and principles. He leaves us with a great intellectual legacy that will continue to enrich our political dialogue for many years to come. Hadassah's and my condolences and prayers are with Irving's wife, Gertrude, his children Bill and Elizabeth, and the entire Kristol family.
  • DougJ, Balloon Juice: "Nothing negative to say here of the recently departed. I always find it interesting that he began as a Trotskyite. In my opinion, the Trotskyite notion of permanent revolution informs neoconservatism very strongly to this day. The J-curve, for example, seems to me to be nothing but a quasi-quantitative argument in favor of revolution."
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