William John Bennett (born July 31, 1943) is an American conservative pundit, politician, and political theorist. He served as United States Secretary of Education from 1985 to 1988. He also held the post of Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (or "Drug Czar") under George H. W. Bush.
Bennett was born in Brooklyn but later moved to Washington, D.C., where he attended Gonzaga College High School. He graduated from Williams College, where he was a member of The Kappa Alpha Society, and went on to earn a Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin in Political Philosophy. He also has a J.D. from Harvard Law School.
From 1976 to 1981 he was the executive director of the National Humanities Center, a private research facility in North Carolina. In 1981 President Ronald Reagan appointed him to head the National Endowment for the Humanities, where he served until Reagan appointed him Secretary of Education in 1985. Reagan originally nominated Mel Bradford to the position, but due Bradford's pro-Confederate views Bennett was appointed in his place. This event was later marked as the watershed in the divergence between paleoconservatives, who backed Bradford, and neoconservatives, led by Irving Kristol, who supported Bennett. It was in 1986 that Bennett switched from the Democratic to the Republican party. Bennett resigned from this post in 1988, and later that year was appointed to the post of Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy by President George H. W. Bush. He was confirmed by the Senate in a 97-2 vote.
Bennett is a member of the National Security Advisory Council of the Center for Security Policy (CSP). He was co-director of Empower America and was a Distinguished Fellow in Cultural Policy Studies at the Heritage Foundation. Long active in United States Republican Party politics, he is now an author, speaker, and, since April 5, 2004, the host of the weekday radio program Morning in America on the Dallas, Texas-based Salem Communications. In addition to his radio show, he is the Washington Fellow of the Claremont Institute. Further work at the Claremont Institute includes his role as Chairman of Americans for Victory Over Terrorism (AVOT). He is also a political analyst for CNN.
NOTE: Bio updated on June 14, 2011
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