The Real Irving Kristol

Norman Podhoretz, "The Real Irving Kristol," Commentary, November 2009.


The obituaries got most of the facts right: that Irving Kristol’s death at the age of 89 marked the passing of one of the most important public intellectuals of the past 40 years; that he began his political life on the radical Left, with a brief stint as a Trotskyist; that his rightward journey over the decades from that starting point on the Left to the neoconservatism of which he became known as the Godfather blazed a trail that a fair number of other intellectuals, myself included, would subsequently follow; that his influence was exerted not only through his own writings in a variety of publications (Commentary prominently among them) but also through the Public Interest, the quarterly journal he founded in 1965 and edited until it ceased publication in 2005; that the ideas he shaped and disseminated through these channels contributed mightily to a change in the climate of American public opinion; that this in turn helped bring about the great change in our political culture that paved the way for the election of a candidate as conservative as Ronald Reagan; and that the effects of his work are still being felt.

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