George Will: Wikis


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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

George Frederick Will

George Will attending a Nationals-Cardinals baseball game, Labor Day 2006.
Born May 4, 1941 (1941-05-04) (age 68)
Champaign, Illinois
Residence Washington, D.C.
Education Trinity College — B.A.

University of Oxford — B.A., M.A. (Oxon)

Princeton UniversityM.A., PhD (1968)
Occupation Journalist, author
Employer ABC News, Newsweek, Washington Post
Spouse(s) Mari Maseng
Children Victoria, Geoffrey, and Jon (first marriage); David (second marriage)
Parents Frederick L. Will and Louise Hendrickson Will

George Frederick Will (born May 4, 1941) a U.S. newspaper columnist, journalist, and author. He is a Pulitzer Prize-winner.


Education and early career

Will was born in Champaign, Illinois, the son of Frederick L. Will and Louise Hendrickson Will.[1] His father was a respected professor of philosophy, specializing in epistemology, at the University of Illinois.

Will graduated from University Laboratory High School of Urbana, Illinois, and attended Trinity College, in Hartford, Connecticut (B.A.). He subsequently studied PPE at Magdalen College, University of Oxford (B.A., M.A.), and received M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in politics from Princeton University. His 1968 Ph.D. dissertation was entitled Beyond the Reach of Majorities: Closed Questions in the Open Society.

Will then taught political philosophy at the James Madison College of Michigan State University, and at the University of Toronto. He taught at Harvard University in 1995 and again in 1998. From 1970 to 1972, he served on the staff of Senator Gordon Allott (R-CO).

Career in journalism

Will served as an editor for the conservative magazine National Review from 1972 to 1978. He joined the Washington Post Writers Group in 1979, writing a syndicated twice-weekly column, which became widely circulated among newspapers across the country. In 1976, he became a contributing editor for Newsweek, writing a biweekly backpage column. As of 2009, Will still writes both columns.

Will was widely praised by liberals for condemning the corruption of the Nixon presidency. He won a Pulitzer Prize for Commentary for "distinguished commentary on a variety of topics" in 1977. Often combining factual reporting with conservative commentary, Will's columns are known for their erudite vocabulary, allusions to political philosophers, and frequent references to baseball.[2]

Will has also written two best-selling books on the game of baseball, three books on political philosophy, and has published eleven compilations of his columns for the Washington Post and Newsweek and of various book reviews and lectures.

His column is syndicated to 450 newspapers.

Will is also a news analyst for ABC since the early 1980s and was a founding member on the panel of ABC's This Week with David Brinkley in 1981, now titled This Week. Will was also a regular panelist on television's Agronsky & Company from 1977 through 1984 and on NBC's Meet the Press in the middle and late 1970s.

Political views


Foreign policy and national security

Will has proposed that the United States withdraw all troops from Afghanistan[3] and defended Barack Obama's response to the uprisings after the 2009 elections in Iran.[4] He also criticized the Bush administration for engaging in warrantless surveillance[5] and supported trials for detainees at the Guantanamo Bay prison camp. On immigration, Will supports tighter border security and a "path to citizenship" for illegal immigrants.[6]

Social issues

On abortion, Will believes that the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision was unconstitutional.[7] Will is also of the opinion that individual gun ownership is a constitutional right.[8] On crime, Will is opposed to the death penalty[9], but thinks that higher incarceration rates make the populace safer.[10] Additionally, Will is generally skeptical of affirmative action programs.[11]

Economic issues

Will supports low taxes, as he thinks that they stimulate economic growth and are more morally fair.[12] He was also opposed to both George W. Bush and Barack Obama's stimulus plans.[13] Other positions include supporting the abolishment of the minimum wage[14], and the creation of voluntary personal retirement accounts to help the government save money on Social Security.[15]

Criticism of the George W. Bush administration

George Will opposed the nomination of Harriet Miers to the United States Supreme Court and was among the first to do so.

Will expressed reservations about Bush administration Iraq policies, eventually openly criticizing what he perceived to be an unrealistically optimistic set of political scenarios.

In March 2006, in a column written in the aftermath of the apparently sectarian bombing of the Askariya Shrine in Samarra, Baghdad, Will challenged the Bush administration—and U.S. government representatives in Iraq—to be more honest about the difficulties the United States faced in rebuilding and maintaining order within Iraq, comparing the White House's rhetoric unfavorably to that of Winston Churchill during the early years of World War II. The optimistic assessments delivered by the Bush administration were described by Will as the "rhetoric of unreality."[16]

Even though Will had been hawkish in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq in 2003, he criticized the Bush Iraq policy, and broader White House and congressional foreign and domestic policy making, in his keynote address for the Cato Institute's 2006 Milton Friedman Prize dinner.[17]

Criticism of the 2008 McCain-Palin campaign

Will was also a harsh and early critic of both Sarah Palin and John McCain's 2008 election campaign. He criticized Palin's understanding of the role of the Vice President, her qualifications for that role and even titled his pre-election Op-Ed piece in the Washington Post "Call Him John the Careless."[18]


1980 Ronald Reagan presidential campaign

Will's detractors complain about instances when Will has blurred the line between independent journalist and political advocate. Will helped Ronald Reagan prepare for his 1980 debate against Jimmy Carter. Immediately after the debate, Will — not yet a member of the ABC News staff — appeared on ABC's Nightline. He was introduced by host Ted Koppel, who said "It's my understanding that you met for some time yesterday with Governor Reagan," and that Will "never made any secret of his affection" for the Republican candidate. Will did not explicitly disclose that he had assisted Reagan's debate preparation, or been present during it. He went on to praise Reagan, saying his "game plan worked well. I don't think he was very surprised."[19]

In 2004 and again in 2005, Carter accused Will of giving the Reagan campaign a top-secret briefing book stolen from Carter's office before the 1980 debate.[20] In a 2005 syndicated column, Will called his role in Reagan's debate preparation "inappropriate" but denied any role in stealing the briefing book. As he had done to Carter privately, Will wrote in his column that he gave the book a "cursory glance", and found it a "crashing bore and next to useless — for [Carter], or for anyone else."[21] In response to Will's column, Carter wrote a letter to the Washington Post retracting his accusations. Carter apologized to Will for "any incorrect statement that I have ever made about his role in the use of my briefing book ... I have never thought Mr. Will took my book."[22]

1996 Bob Dole presidential campaign

The progressive national media watchgroup Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) criticized Will in connection with the 1996 election for "commenting on the presidential race while his second wife, Mari Maseng Will, was a senior staffer for the Dole presidential campaign", including commenting on a Dole speech, asserting that he failed to disclose that his wife had helped write it. However, Will mentioned his wife's connection to the Dole campaign almost weekly on This Week.

2003 Association with Conrad Black

Will was criticized for his dealings with Canadian-born British financier Conrad Black.[23] Will served on an informal board of advisors to Hollinger International, a newspaper company controlled by Black. The board met once a year and Will received an annual payment of $25,000. The board was disbanded in 2001. In March 2003, Will wrote a syndicated column which praised a speech by Black and did not disclose their previous business relationship.[24]

2008 Offshore drilling by China

In a Washington Post column on June 5, 2008, Will stated that "Drilling is underway 60 miles (97 km) off Florida. The drilling is being done by China, in cooperation with Cuba, which is drilling closer to South Florida than U.S. companies are". This statement is false. It was later quoted and subsequently withdrawn by Dick Cheney after Congressional Democrats, backed by energy experts, pointed out the error. House Leader John Boehner also cited the incorrect statement: "Right at this moment some 60 miles (97 km) or less off the coast of Key West, Fla., China has the green light to drill for oil."[25][26][27]

In a June 17, 2008 column, George Will issued a correction: "In a previous column, I stated that China, in partnership with Cuba, is drilling for oil 60 miles (97 km) from the Florida coast. While Cuba has partnered with Chinese companies to drill in the Florida Straits, no Chinese company has been involved in Cuba's oil exploration that close to the United States."(See Offshore Cuba)

2009 Global Sea Ice Level

In a Washington Post column which doubted the effects of global warming, Will stated that: "According to the University of Illinois' Arctic Climate Research Center, global sea ice levels now equal those of 1979." [28] This and several other claims attracted the attention of environmentalists, such as British author and activist George Monbiot.[29] Asked to respond, the website of Arctic Climate Research at the University of Illinois states that: "We do not know where George Will is getting his information, but our data shows that on February 15, 1979, global sea ice area was 16.79 million sq. km and on February 15, 2009, global sea ice area was 15.45 million sq. km. Therefore, global sea ice levels are 1.34 million sq. km less in February 2009 than in February 1979." [30] Will responded in a column that he accurately reported the Center's information and the challenge was mistaken.[31] This drew a second response from George Monbiot, who insisted Will had not accurately reported the Center's information.[32] The debate continued in several forums, including a subsequent op-ed by Chris Mooney published in The Washington Post challenging Will's assertions.[33]



Will has three children - Victoria, Geoffrey, and Jon, with his first wife, Madeleine; Jon was born in 1972 with Down syndrome, which Will has written about in his column on occasion. [34] [35] In 1991, Will married Mari Maseng, a former Reagan presidential speechwriter and deputy director of transportation, as well as former communications director for Robert Dole. They have one child, a son named David, born in 1992, and live in the Washington D.C. area.


Will is a Chicago Cubs and Chicago Bears fan.[36][37]

Religious views

On June 3, 2008, Will stated in an interview on The Colbert Report that he was an agnostic because he was "not decisive enough [to be an atheist]."[38]

In popular culture

  • In Dave Barry's "Tax Guide" column, Barry states that "if the IRS asks where you got this information, remember to give them my full name, George Will."
  • In a season one episode of 30 Rock ("Jack-tor"), Tracy Jordan, who was thought to be illiterate, is seen reading a newspaper in an elevator remarking, "Damn, George Will keeps getting more and more conservative."
  • Cartoonist Berke Breathed has referenced him at least three times in his Bloom County comic strip series: In one election day strip, Opus, while fretting about his campaign as vice president, mentions being criticized by Will. In one of Bloom County's Sunday-only sequel, Outland, Opus, attending the monthly meeting of "Free Thinkers of the Meddow", informs the others that "George Will sends his regrets," causing the others to moan "Awwwww!". In another of Breathed's strips, Opus watches an outlandish news report that claims Will, along with William F. Buckley, has created a defense fund for gay welfare-cheats.
  • For a week in the mid 1980's, Doonesbury centered its strip on the adventures of one of Will's fictional interns, drawing attention to his erudite language and mannerisms. Will had earlier been portrayed (although not actually seen) as hosting a welcoming dinner party for the Reagans. Character Rick Redfern is assigned to report on the event because 'George won't have time.'
  • Will was portrayed by Dana Carvey as overly intellectual and sullen in a sketch about baseball on Saturday Night Live. Carvey also portrayed Will in the final (but unaired) episode of The Dana Carvey Show, where he was part of the "This Week" panel hosted by David Brinkley (played by Stephen Colbert) and vomits while riding a roller coaster.
  • In a 1995 episode of Seinfeld entitled "The Jimmy" Kramer states that he thinks George Will is handsome but "not all that bright".
  • The Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode Soultaker features a somewhat stereotypical WASP Republican character chatting up the female lead in one early scene, leading to a joke from Crow T. Robot that the character wants to take her to a 'George Will concert'.


In addition to more than 15 honorary degrees:

  • 1977—Pulitzer Prize for Commentary
  • 1978—Headliner Award for consistently outstanding feature columns
  • 1979—Finalist for National Magazine Award in essays and criticism
  • 1980—Silurian Award for editorial writing
  • 1991—Silurian Award for editorial writing
  • 1991—First Place in Interpretive Columns: Clarion Awards from Women in Communications
  • 1991—Cronkite Award, Arizona State University
  • 1992—Madison Medal Award, Princeton University
  • 1993—William Allen White Award, William Allen White School of Journalism at the University of Kansas
  • 2003—Walter B. Wriston Lecture Award, The Manhattan Institute
  • 2005—Bradley Prize, The Bradley Foundation (
  • 2006—Champion of Liberty Award, Goldwater Institute (


  • The Pursuit of Happiness and Other Sobering Thoughts. Harper & Row, 1978.
  • The Pursuit of Virtue and Other Tory Notions. Simon & Schuster, 1982.
  • Statecraft as Soulcraft: What Government Does. Simon & Schuster, 1983.
  • The Morning After: American Success and Excesses, 1981–1986. Free Press, 1986.
  • The New Season: A Spectator's Guide to the 1988 Election. Simon & Schuster, 1987.
  • Men at Work: The Craft of Baseball. Macmillan, 1990.
  • Suddenly: The American Idea Abroad and at Home. Free Press, 1990.
  • Restoration: Congress, Term Limits and the Recovery of Deliberative Democracy. 1992.
  • The Leveling Wind: Politics, the Culture and Other News, 1990-1994. Viking, 1994.
  • The Woven Figure: Conservatism and America's Fabric: 1994–1997. Scribner, 1997.
  • Bunts: Pete Rose, Curt Flood, Camden Yards and Other Reflections on Baseball. Simon and Schuster, 1997.
  • With a Happy Eye But...: America and the World, 1997–2002. Free Press, 2002.
  • One Man's America: The Pleasures and Provocations of Our Singular Nation. Crown Publishing Group, 2008.

See also

Secular right


  1. ^ Will, George F. (July 13, 2006). "A Mother's Love, Clarified". Washington Post: p. A23. 
  2. ^ "George Will Quotes". Baseball Almanac. 2000-2007. Retrieved 2007-12-15. 
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  16. ^ Will, George F. (March 2, 2006). "Rhetoric of Unreality: Where Is Iraq After Nearly 3 Years of War?". The Washington Post: p. A21. 
  17. ^ Will, George. (Summer 2006). "Cato: Upholding the Idea of Liberty" (PDF). Cato's Letter 4 (3). Retrieved 2008-08-31. 
  18. ^ Will, George F. (October 30, 2008). "Call Him John the Careless". The Washington Post: p. A23. 
  19. ^ Nightline Special Edition, October 28, 1980
  20. ^ Fresh Air, October 21, 2004; The Alabama Plainsman, July 28, 2005.
  21. ^ Will, George F. (August 11, 2005). "Briefing Book Baloney". The Washington Post: p. A23. 
  22. ^ Carter, Jimmy (August 31, 2005). "Putting an End to the 'Briefing Book Baloney'" (Letter to the Editor). The Washington Post: p. A22. 
  23. ^ Solomon, Norman (January 2, 2004). "George Will's Ethics — None of Our Business?". Counter Punch. Retrieved 2008-08-31. 
  24. ^ Steinberg, Jacques and Geraldine Fabrikant (December 22, 2003). "Friendship and Business Blur in the World of a Media Baron". New York Times (Reprinted in by Retrieved 2008-08-31. 
  25. ^ Will, George F. (June 5, 2008). "The Gas Prices We Deserve". Washington Post: p. A19. 
  26. ^ "Yahoo!News article on Cheney's comment on oil drilling". June 13, 2008. 
  27. ^ Kolawole, Emi (2008). "Are the Chinese drilling off the coast of Cuba?". Retrieved 2008-08-31. 
  28. ^ Will, George F. (February 15, 2009). "Dark Green Doomsayers". Retrieved 2009-02-19. 
  29. ^ Monbiot, George. George Will's climate howlers, The Guardian. February 18, 2009.
  30. ^ "The Cryosphere Today". February 15, 2009. Retrieved 2009-02-19. 
  31. ^ Will, George F. Climate Science in A Tornado Washington Post. February 27, 2009.
  32. ^ Monbiot, George. We all make mistakes but Washington Post's George Will just won't admit his, The Guardian. March 3, 2009.
  33. ^ Mooney, Chris Climate Change Myths and Facts "Washington Post". March 22 2009.
  34. ^ Will, George F. (April 14, 2005). "Eugenics By Abortion: Is perfection an entitlement?". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2008-09-07. 
  35. ^ Will, George F. (January 29, 2007). "Will: The Attack on Kids With Down Syndrome". Newsweek. Archived from the original on 2007-05-17. 
  36. ^ "George Will tells Washington University graduates: "Don't let your babies grow up to be Cub fans"". For Expert Comment. Washington University. May 15, 1998. Retrieved 2008-08-31. 
  37. ^ Will, George F. (April 7, 2008). "The Last Word:'‘Your Brain on Cubs’". Newsweek. Retrieved 2008-08-31. 
  38. ^ "George Will". The Colbert Report. Comedy Central. June 3, 2008. Retrieved 2008-06-05. 


External links




Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

A decrease in the quantity of legislation generally means an increase in the quality of life.

George Frederick Will (born 4 May 1941) is an American columnist, journalist, and author.


  • Football combines the two worst things about America: it is violence punctuated by committee meetings
    • International Herald Tribune (7 May 1990)
  • Liberals think their campaign against Wal-Mart is a way of introducing the subject of class into America's political argument, and they are more correct than they understand. Their campaign is liberalism as condescension. It is a philosophic repugnance toward markets, because consumer sovereignty results in the masses making messes. Liberals, aghast, see the choices Americans make with their dollars and their ballots and announce — yes, announce — that Americans are sorely in need of more supervision by . . . liberals.
    • "Democrats Vs. Wal-Mart", Washington Post (14 September 2006)
  • When liberals' presidential nominees consistently fail to carry Kansas, liberals do not rush to read a book titled "What's the Matter With Liberals' Nominees?" No, the book they turned into a bestseller is titled "What's the Matter With Kansas?" Notice a pattern here?
    • "Democrats Vs. Wal-Mart", Washington Post (14 September 2006)
  • Reformers desperate to resuscitate taxpayer funding [of elections] cite the supposedly scandalous fact that each party's 2008 presidential campaign may spend $500 million. If so, Americans volunteering to fund the dissemination of speech about candidates for the nation's most consequential office will contribute $1 billion, which is about half the sum they spend annually on Easter candy. Some scandal.
    • "Checkout for an Undemocratic Checkoff", Washington Post (28 September 2006)
  • If, after the Foley episode — a maraschino cherry atop the Democrats' delectable sundae of Republican miseries — the Democrats cannot gain 13 seats [to regain control of the House of Representatives], they should go into another line of work.
    • "What Goeth Before The Fall", Jewish World Review (5 October 2006)
  • A decrease in the quantity of legislation generally means an increase in the quality of life.
    • "The gift of doing very little", Jewish World Review (23 December 2007)
  • There is an elegant memorial in Washington to Jefferson, but none to Hamilton. However, if you seek Hamilton's monument, look around. You are living in it. We honor Jefferson, but live in Hamilton's country, a mighty industrial nation with a strong central government.
    • "Restoration: Congress, Term Limits and the Recovery of Deliberative Democracy" (1992)


  • A properly functioning free market system does not spring spontaneously from society's soil as crabgrass springs from suburban lawns. Rather, it is a complex creation of laws and mores... Capitalism is a government program.
  • Few things are as stimulating as other people’s calamities observed from a safe distance.
  • Childhood is frequently a solemn business for those inside it.
  • The nice part about being a pessimist is that you are constantly being either proven right or pleasantly surprised.
  • There may be more poetry than justice in poetic justice.
  • The future has a way of arriving unannounced.
  • World War II was the last government program that really worked.
  • The Berlin Wall is the defining achievement of socialism.
  • This is an age in which one cannot find common sense without a search warrant.
  • Revisiting the Revolutionary War is a bracing reminder that the fate of a continent, and the shape of the modern world, turned on the free choices of remarkably few Americans defying an empire.
  • Americans are overreaching; overreaching is the most admirable and most American of the many American excesses.
  • (A)ctivist, interventionalist, regulating, subsidizing government is generally a servant of the strong and entrenched against the weak and aspiring.
  • Anyone can have a bad century. (In reference to his beloved Chicago Cubs, who have not won a World Series since 1908)
  • Baseball, it is said, is only a game. True. And the Grand Canyon is only a hole in Arizona. Not all holes, or games, are created equal.
  • Sports serve society by providing vivid examples of excellence.
  • Christian Science without the Christianity, sounds good to me. [referring to free-market ideology]- Interview with Stephen Colbert on The Colbert Report, June 3 2008.
  • "It is a classification that no longer classifies." (Referring to the Stimulus bill on 'This Week with George Stephanopoulos' 2/8/2009).
  • "That is the fallacy of the false assumption." (Referring to Congress only having the choice of passing the Stimulus bill or doing nothing for the economy on 'This Week with George Stephanopoulos' 2/15/2009).
  • "You are a pyromaniac in a field of straw men." (To Sam Donaldson on 'This Week with George Stephanopouls' 2/15/2009).

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