Jeanne Kirkpatrick will be missed. Many of my generation will remember her as both a public intellectual and a figure of great courage. She will best be remembered as Ronald Reagan’s first appointment to be ambassador to the United Nations in 1981. She was a breath of fresh air after the dark days of the Carter years.
It was Jeanne Kirkpatrick who coined the phrase "Blame America First." She understood, as a Democrat at the time, that something had shifted radically in her party since World War II. She became one of a number of intellectuals who understood this shift and spoke openly against it. This is why she, and others, helped to form the anti-Soviet Committee for the Present Danger. She said that she was concerned about "the weakening of Western will." This became the track upon which the rising neo-conservative movement developed.
Kirkpatrick was committed to speaking truth to power. Soviet dissidents loved her. She spent her last ten years on the board of the Center for a Free Cuba. As the Wall Street Journal noted over the weekend, she dedicated a public life to protecting [the] tenet of freedom for the human spirit." She will be missed by those of us who admired her courage and consistent ability to speak up for those who were oppressed by political ideologues and totalitarians around the world.
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