Over the past two years we have lost the two intellectual giants of modern conservatism: first, William F. Buckley in February 2008 and then Irving Kristol this past September. In between, other influential figures have fallen as well, including Jack Kemp, Richard John Neuhaus, Paul Weyrich, Robert Novak, and Samuel Huntington, to mention the most prominent of them. This is why hectoring declarations from some quarters about the “death of conservatism” right now cut rather too close to the bone.

Buckley and Kristol, in their ideas and personal styles, remind us of the variety and contradictions that give strength and broad appeal to American conservatism. Buckley was the father of modern conservatism, but Kristol its godfather. Buckley gave birth to a movement, but Kristol guided it into maturity and showed it how to win. Buckley was born to conservatism; Kristol fought through countless obstacles before arriving there....

 

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