THE PLANK DECEMBER 18, 2008
Leading conservative thinker and co-founder of the Heritage Foundation Paul Weyrich died last night. For those interested in reading up on him today, we recommend our 1997 profile, written by David Grann and entitled "The Robespierre Of The Right." Grann explains how the man who "orchestrated the party's alliance with evangelical Christians, and, more than any other figure, organized the right inside the Beltway" led, and eventually succumbed to, a politburo-style purging of Republican Party unfaithful:
As the fledgling [Heritage Foundation] became more influential, inevitably blurring with the establishment, Weyrich grew increasingly uncomfortable with his creation. Less than a year after what many consider his greatest accomplishment, he resigned to establish the Free Congress Foundation and its PAC, the Committee for the Survival of a Free Congress. Together, they served as a twenty-four-hour, right-wing fueling station: funding candidates, churning out newsletters, and holding conferences. "It may not be with bullets," he told Richard Viguerie, the right's kingpin of direct mail, "but it is a war nevertheless. It is a war of ideology, it's a war of ideas, it's a war about our way of life." ...
Perhaps there is no better testimony to Weyrich's success than the failure of his latest counterestablishment, National Empowerment Television. Launched in 1993 with a budget of roughly $10 million, it was supposed to be Weyrich's masterwork: the first ideologically driven public affairs network in America, a kind of third-wave Pravda. For Weyrich, it was an attempt to dominate the movement again, and cast out those who betrayed him. His strategy was to retaliate against Beltway Republicans by reaching out to Republicans in the hinterlands. "My view is Maoist," he says. "I believe you have to control the countryside and then the capital will eventually fall."