Sadly, I haven’t seen quite enough conservative encomiums today in memory of Bill Rusher, the longtime National Review publisher who died Saturday, who was one of the greatest, most important people in the whole conservative movement. Without Bill Rusher, it is absolutely safe and incontrovertible to say, there would have been no Goldwater nomination in 1964, and quite likely no campaign at all. The impetus for the campaign came straight from Rusher. He’s the one who made it happen, and with the phenomenal assistance of Clif White, the great political operative, it did happen, despite longstanding opposition (real opposition, not feigned) from candidate Goldwater himself. It was a true “draft” movement the likes of which will probably never be equalled again in American politics. When Goldwater finally came around, the campaign was waiting for him, painstakingly built for some three years by Rusher and White. (It was a mark against Goldwater, by the way, that once the nomination was secured, Goldwater allowed Rusher and White to be effectively shunted to the sidelines.)
Moreover, it was Rusher who did all the grunt work of keeping National Review afloat for 30 years, providing the steady organizational/financial leadership while WF Buckley of course provided the editorial inspiration. Anybody who understands the conservative movement, and anybody who understands the movement’s essential centrality to American history in the past half-century, knows how important National Review was. Sure, it was Buckley’s baby — but Rusher deserves a large chunk of the credit for helping Buckley keep it afloat.
Urbane, insightful, incisive and erudite, Bill Rusher was a giant of the cause. May he rest in peace, and in God’s eternal grace and joy.