Vin Weber

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Vin Weber (1952-) is Managing Partner of Clark & Weinstock, a lobbying and policy advisory firm. He chairs the National Endowment for Democracy, and is a member of the board of the Council on Foreign Relations, the Aspen Institute, and theAdvisory Committees to the Defense Policy Board and U.S. Secretary of State's Advisory Committee on Democracy Promotion. At the University of Minnesota, he is a senior fellow at the Humphrey Institute and co-director of its policy forum.

Political policy

In March 2010, he told Newsweek that Liz Cheney appeals to the

"Sarah Palin constituency," but she has more intellectual credibility. "Nobody says about Liz" what they do about Palin, he says. Whether any of this is good for the Republican Party is anybody's guess. But at least a few moderate Republicans note—with some trepidation—that Palin may have a rival, and Dick Cheney may have an heir.[1]

Newsweek quoted him, in January 2010, as describing neoconservatism as ""the dominant intellectual force on foreign-policy thinking in the Republican Party," as opposed to realism and paleoconservatism. [2]

With Madeleine Albright, he co-chaired, in 2005, a Council on Foreign Relations task force on Arab democracy promotion for the Arab world. [3]

For the 2004 United States presidential campaign, he was the Bush-Cheney '04 Plains States Regional Chairman.

He was a member of the Death Penalty Committee of the Constitution Project between 1999 and 2001.

In 1998, he signed the Project for the New American Century letter to Bill Clinton, declaring Iraq a threat and recommending a preemptive U.S. attack.

Before starting Clark & Weinstock's Washington office in 1994, he was president of Empower America, and co-director with Jack Kemp, Jeane Kirkpatrick and Bill Bennett.

U.S. Republican leadership

Between 1980 and 1993, he was a Republican member of the U.S. House of Representatives, for the 2nd District of Minnesota. He was also a member of the House Republican leadership.

In 1983, he was one of the members of the Conservative Opportunity Society founded by Newt Gingrich, which he saw as an evolution of the conservatism of Barry Goldwater. He called it "a philosophy, but not a rigid, narrow, almost theological conservatism. There is certainly a conservatism." [But it's], in some ways, broader than the conservatism of the past generations of Goldwater, not to denigrate that at all though. It's a little different. [4] While others, such as Mickey Edwards[5], and Ross Douthat and Reihan Salam,[6] have argued that Gingrich made Republican dominance more of a goal than governance, Weber argued "Newt Gingrich understood and argued that the Republican Party could not simply be against. They had to replace what existed with something new." Weber described the Conservative Opportunity Society view as the welfare state being an alternative to "... an authoritarian state [and] with the Darwinian free enterprise, laissez-faire. Liberal Welfare State was a positive idea."

Douthat and Salam believed that Ronald Reagan was not opposed to a positive model of the welfare state, and "would attack government waste and oppressive bureaucracy, but never the pillars of the welfare state." [7] Weber called the conservative ideas "opportunity as opposed to welfare; welfare being, in our view, synonymous with a dependency society," but considered them an evolution.

It's a sign of the times how much that has become pejorative. His argument was that we need to talk about replacing the Liberal Welfare State with something. It's going to be, number one, conservative, based on conservative principles rather than liberal principles of free markets, individual freedom, decentralization. [They are] a whole range of ideas that are conservative in opposition to what we have come to think of in twentieth century America as Liberal.

"Society, as opposed to state, recognizing that the dominant form of our culture is not governmental and that the most important centers of activity in society, if you will, are families, non-profit organizations and neighborhoods. The grand ascent of the state has been an abnormality, a move away from the norm....I argue, even today as we're sitting here, the main challenge to the Republican Party and the conservative movement is to think through what replaces welfare state policies as opposed to simply editing them, defunding them and tearing them down.

"...The public expects government to respond to a lot of different problems like education, poverty, problems of the inner city and [to] figure out exactly how to approach those. It remains our major challenge. " He saw two key wedge issues, differentiating the Democratic Party from its constituency, as the Balanced Budget Amendment and voluntary school prayer.

Ultimately there has to be a positive set of issues that attract people to the Republican Party, issues for which they feel confident voting for. That part of the message was lost early on because the press and our opposition, of course, only focused on confrontational tactics that we employed in the House, tactics that deserved a lot of attention. But it did obscure for many years people's vision when it came to understanding what Newt Gingrich was all about.

Early career

Prior to being elected to he was campaign manager and chief Minnesota aide to Sen. Rudy Boschwitz (1978-1980), and the co-publisher of The Murray County Herald (1976-1978).


  1. Michael Isikoff and Michael Hirsh (12 March 2010), "Palin With a Pedigree", Newsweek
  2. David Margolick (22 January 2010), "The Return of the Neocons", Newsweek
  3. Madeleine Albright and Vin Weber, Chairs (2005), In Support of Arab Democracy: Why and How, Council on Foreign Relations
  4. The Long March of Newt Gingrich: Vin Weber interview, PBS Frontline
  5. Bill Moyers' Journal, National Public Radio, 11 July 2008
  6. Ross Douthat and Reihan Salam (2008), Grand New Party: How Republicans can win the Working Class and Save the American Dream, Doubleday, p. 72-73
  7. Douthat and Salam, pp. 77-78