Feature

Malcolm Wallop, 1933–2011

The rancher senator who pushed hard for missile defense

Voters got an early taste of Malcolm Wallop’s plainspoken conservatism in a campaign ad he made for his first, successful run for the Senate, in 1976. As the camera panned across the Wyoming plains, a voice-over explained new federal regulations mandating portable toilets for farm laborers. Then a cowboy rode into the frame with an outhouse strapped to his horse.

Wallop was born to a political family, said The New York Times. His British-born grandfather, a cattleman and Wyoming state legislator, returned to England in 1925 to sit in the House of Lords. Wallop, too, worked as a rancher before entering Wyoming politics, in 1969.

After his election to the U.S. Senate, said the Casper, Wyo., Star-Tribune, Wallop became part of “what was perhaps the most powerful Wyoming congressional delegation ever,” serving alongside Sen. Alan Simpson and Rep. Dick Cheney, later vice president. A “staunch anti-communist, pro-defense libertarian,” he gained a reputation as one of the most right-wing members of the Senate.

“It was Malcolm Wallop who first whispered the words ‘missile defense’ into President Reagan’s ear,” said DailyCaller.com, lobbying relentlessly for the space-based anti-missile defense network known as Star Wars. His commitment to national security led him to create a think tank, Frontiers of Freedom, after he retired from the Senate, in 1995.

Wallop’s conservatism sometimes put him at odds with his own party. “Too many Republicans prefer to be a Democrat Lite,” he said in 1994. “As any beer connoisseur can tell you, Lite is a tasteless, repugnant concoction.”

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