Paul Weyrich Dead at 66

Paul Weyrich, RIP

Paul Weyrich, RIP

Paul Weyrich has died. Rob Bluey:

Paul M. Weyrich, chairman and CEO of the Free Congress Foundation and first president of The Heritage Foundation, died this morning around 1 a.m. He was 66 years old. Weyrich was a good friend to many of us at Heritage, a true leader and a man of unbending principle. He won Heritage’s prestigious Clare Boothe Luce Award in 2005.

Weyrich will be deeply missed. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, including son Steve, who currently works at Heritage.

Sad news. Oddly, I never realized he was Heritage’s first president. It seems like Heritage has been around forever, but it actually started in 1973. Weyrich would have been only 30 or 31 at the time (he was born October 7; I don’t know what month Heritage opened its doors).

Other reactions:

  • Doug Bandow: “Paul … an indefatigable conservative activist, was friend and colleague.  While we disagreed on some issues—his conservatism tended more towards the social, while mine moved in a libertarian direction—he was a fine gentleman who did much to promote individual liberty and limited government.  We have lost a good man.”
  • Grover Norquist: “The idea of individual liberty and a limited constitutional government has been around a long time. Liberty doesn’t need new ideas to advance, but institutions to give muscle and skeletal structure to a political movement for liberty. That is how Paul Weyrich changed the world for the better.”

UPDATE: Here’s the AP report.

Conservative activist Paul Weyrich, who coined the phrase “moral majority” and helped turn social conservatives into a powerful force in the Republican Party, died Thursday. He was 66.


Lee Edwards, a Heritage Foundation scholar and a friend, said Weyrich had suffered from ill health in recent years and had both legs amputated.


At his death, Weyrich was chairman and CEO of the Free Congress Foundation, a conservative think tank. His latest commentary, posted on the foundation’s Web site with Thursday’s date, was titled: “The next Conservatism, a Serious Agenda for the Future.” In it he wrote: “It is the worst of times because conservatives appear lost and without a serious agenda or a means of explaining such an agenda to the public.” But he also “it is the best of times” because conservative thinkers are generating ideas and proposals for a ‘Next Conservatism,’ which will lead to substantive debate about the nation’s core principles and its future direction.

That process will continue in his absence.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. John Cole says:

    Was he ill, or was this an unexpected thing?

  2. James Joyner says:

    I know he’s been wheelchair bound for a number of years but wasn’t aware that this was imminent.

  3. raoul says:

    He was among the last intellectual conservatives that I actually respected. Though I’m sure I will find outrageous quotes of his, he did try to persuade through reason unlike the modern brethren of know nothings (to name a couple Goldberg, Rush). I guess George Will remains, but his intellectual vacuity trails his words (what I am saying is that he intentionally distorts). Besides, Paul W. was a big fan of rail. RIP

  4. John Burgess says:

    During the Reagan Administration, I had several opportunities to work with Weyrich when he was on the U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy.

    I found him to be level-headed and generally on the same wavelength as I on issues of Public Diplomacy. On other issues, I found him to be more extreme than I cared to go.

    I did not recognize him from the photo here. When I knew him, he was on the chubby side, so he must have had a lingering illness.

  5. Scott Swank says:

    I lieu of speaking ill of the recently deceased I will let him speak for himself.

  6. raoul says:

    Swank: Thanks for the link. What can one say.