Donatelli: Remembering Bill Rusher

Conservative pioneer helped lay the foundation for the Reagan uprising

Another member of the founding generation of the modern conservative movement left us this past week. William A. Rusher was a tireless advocate for conservative causes spanning half a century and had careers as a successful attorney, associate counsel for the Senate internal security subcommittee and a syndicated columnist.

However, Mr. Rusher achieved his greatest fame as the longtime publisher of National Review – from being hired soon after its founding in 1957 until his “retirement” in 1988. While not as celebrated as editor William F. Buckley Jr., Mr. Rusher was just as important to the growth of modern conservatism. He worked tirelessly in those years to make National Review a success. He also was a key architect in the founding of Young Americans for Freedom in 1960, the conservative takeover of the Young Republicans, the New York Conservative Party in 1961, the American Conservative Union in 1964 and in the seminal but unsuccessful candidacy of Barry Goldwater for president in 1964. In fact, Mr. Rusher had an uncanny knack for being at the precise intersection of policy development and political activism, something to which many aspire, but which few achieve.