A Tribute to Kate OBeirne
In 1985 I was an over-confident young man who was trying to make a name for himself in conservative politics. Having graduated college the year before, I assumed that someone in Washington would instantly hire me to help implement President Reagan’s takeover of the world.
Well, as it turns out, the only job I could get was organizing a series of conservative confabs at Paul Weyrich’s Free Congress Foundation. “Organizing” sounds half-way important, but what I was really doing was taking notes, setting up chairs, and buying the donuts for the meetings.
These were heady days, frequent attendees at these meetings where a bunch of young irrelevant back bencher members of congress – Newt Gingrich, Dick Armey, Tom DeLay, Vin Weber, and Bob Walker were at almost every meeting.
This is where I first met Kate O’Beirne. She was already a very accomplished person at this point, but there was something different about her. Unlike many of the attendees at these meetings she was neither pretentious nor amazed by herself.
Showing a terrible lack of judgement, Kate took a liking to me. I’ve read a bunch of tributes to her in the days since her death, and they all have a similar story – she took an interest in somebody who was nobody.
When in 1987, by some clerical error, I ended up in a position at the Reagan White House, Kate was a great resource for me. She was not enamored by power or a respecter of persons. She would shoot it to you straight.
Over the years, I migrated into the campaign world, but I never lost touch with Kate. Any time I would bring a candidate to Washington DC I would bring them to see her at the National Review, hoping that some of the smart would rub off on both me and the candidate. It often did.
The moral of the story is very important – take an interest in people, without regard for what it is you think they can do for you. I don’t think I ever did anything for Kate that ever helped her one bit, and that did not bother her one bit.
When they asked Jesus what the most important commandment was, he said “love your neighbor as yourself.” Kate done good at that.
Kate was not transactional. She was genuine. Hard to figure how she made it in Washington.
See National Review tribute here.