Ramesh Ponnuru

Ramesh Ponnuru (/rəˈmɛʃ pəˈnʊər/; born August 16, 1974) is an American conservative political pundit and journalist. A visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute since 2012,[1] he is also a senior editor for National Review magazine, a columnist for Bloomberg View,[2] and a contributing editor to the domestic policy journal National Affairs.[3]

Ramesh Ponnuru
Ramesh Ponnuru at U.S. embassy in Vienna.jpg
Ponnuru in 2016
Born (1974-08-16) August 16, 1974 (age 46)
EducationPrinceton University (BA)
OccupationColumnist and Editor
Notable credit(s)
The Party of Death (2006)
TitleSenior editor
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)April Ponnuru

Ponnuru has written on wide array of political and policy topics, appeared on numerous public affairs and news interview programs, and is a widely respected voice on conservative policy.[4] In recent years, his profile has risen even higher and he has been widely praised for breaking with his party with his highly informed and uncompromising criticism of President Donald Trump, saying his conscience would not let him do otherwise. In 2015, Politico Magazine listed both him and his wife, April Ponnuru, as two of the "Politico 50" influential leaders in American politics. It has been the first and only time ever that a husband and wife appeared on the list at the same time.[4]

Early life and educationEdit

Ponnuru was raised in Prairie Village, Kansas, a suburb of Kansas City, MO, where he attended Briarwood Elementary School (Prairie Village, Kansas) and Mission Valley Middle School. After graduating from Shawnee Mission East High School, at the age 16, he went on to attend Princeton University, where he earned a B.A. in history and graduated summa cum laude in 1995. He completed a 107-page long senior thesis, titled "Abortion in Nineteenth-Century America, in Brief", under the supervision of Robert P. George.[5] Raised by a Hindu father and a Lutheran mother,[6] Ponnuru is of Asian Indian descent. Ponnuru converted to Catholicism from agnosticism later in life.[7] He is married to April Ponnuru.[8]



Since 1999, Ponnuru has been either a senior fellow or senior editor, or both at the same time, at National Review, where he frequently writes and comments on politics, public policy, economics, the law, and even faith.[9] In its pages, he has called for a revival of Republican policy thinking by applying conservative ideals to contemporary problems and emphasizing the concerns of the middle class. He has been a leading conservative voice in making the case for increasing the child tax credit to properly compensate parents for the cost of raising children, and won praise for finding common ground with progressives and Democrats on the issue.[1][10] He has also been a regular co-author and leading voice with economist David Beckworth on the topic of monetary policy and market monetarism.[11][12]

Ponnuru appears frequently on a diverse array of television programs about public affairs, among them Meet the Press,[13] Face the Nation, C-Span, the PBS NewsHour, National Public Radio's All Things Considered, ABC News' This Week with George Stephanopoulos, ABC News. The Daily Show (at that time, hosted by Jon Stewart), and The Colbert Report.[14]

He has also been a regular guest speaker on policy, politics, and constitutionalism at college campuses and law schools across the country,[15][16] In 2013, he was a fellow at the University of Chicago’s Institute of Politics. The Institute's website has described "the Fellows" as "a dynamic and distinguished group of political practitioners and journalists who will lead seminars and interact with UChicago students and faculty."[17]

In 2006, Ponnuru wrote The Party of Death: The Democrats, the Media, the Courts, and the Disregard for Human Life. Provactively titled on purpose, the volume is Ponnuru's exposition on such right to life issues as abortion and euthanasia, concentrating on the circumstances of the United States Democratic Party's shift from anti-abortion to abortion rights. The book was met with near universal favorable reviews. Peggy Noonan celebrated the book as "the most significant statement of the need to protect human life in America since Ronald Reagan’s Abortion and the Conscience of a Nation.

National Review Online Editor at Large Jonah Goldberg, wrote: "Ponnuru scrupulously sticks to nonreligious arguments, accessible to everyone. But that hasn’t stopped critics from charging that his motives are unacceptably 'religious,' while others have complained Ponnuru is too coldly rational. Again it seems Ponnuru’s real sin isn’t how he says things, but that he says them at all."[18]

John Derbyshire wrote in The New English Review: "RTL is made as presentable as possible in Party of Death, with writing that is engaging and lucid.... (Right to Lifers) are welcoming Party of Death very joyfully, though, and they are right to do so, as it is an exceptionally fine piece of polemical writing in support of their... cause.... Party of Death is obviously inspired by religious belief. The philosophical passages strictly follow the Golden Rule of religious apologetics, which is: The conclusion is known in advance, and the task of the intellectual is to erect supporting arguments."[19]

In a sharp, but measured response to accusations that Ponnuru had an overtly religious viewpoint in approaching the abortion issue, he forcefully addressed the issue himself head on: "I have made a show of reasoning, but my conclusions have all rather conveniently lined up with the teachings of my church.... For the record, my views on abortion have not changed since I was an agnostic.... It is true that I am a Catholic. It is also true that I believe that my church’s teaching on abortion is reasonable, sound, and correct. It is because I came to believe that Catholicism is true, after all, that I became a Catholic. If I didn’t believe Catholic teachings were true, I wouldn’t be a Catholic."[20]

Ponnuru has also been the author of a highly influential monograph on Japanese industrial policy, published jointly by the American Enterprise Institute and Center for Policy Studies.[21]

Ponnuru is a past contributor to Time and WashingtonPost.com and has written for other such national publications as The New York Times,[22][23][24][25][26] The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal,[27] Financial Times, Newsday, New York Post, The Weekly Standard, Policy Review, The New Republic, and First Things, an ecumenical and conservative religious journal.[28][29]


Ponnuru is a frequent speaker on conservative policy and its political implications, and has regularly been a featured guest at retreats for congressional Republicans.[30]

He has been identified as a leader of the "reform conservative" movement,[31] and was prominently featured in a 2014 New York Times Magazine cover story about the conservative intellectuals who comprise it. The Times' Sam Tanenhaus described Ponnuro as one of a small group of young conservative Republicans, who, each one, "was an intellectual prodigy in his 30s" who together had "become the leaders of a small band of reform conservatives, sometimes called reformicons, who believe the health of the G.O.P. hinges on jettisoning its age-old doctrine — orgiastic tax-cutting, the slashing of government programs, the championing of Wall Street — and using an altogether different vocabulary, backed by specific proposals, that will reconnect the party to middle-class and low-income voters."[32]

In 2014, Ponnuru co-edited, with Yuval Levin, Room to Grow: Conservative Reforms for a Limited Government and a Thriving Middle Class,[33] a reform conservative manifesto and policy agenda. (Ponnuru also contributed the book's concluding chapter, on constitutionalism.[34]) The book was widely praised, with New York Times columnist David Brooks describing it as a "policy-laden manifesto... which is the most coherent and compelling policy agenda the American right has produced this century."[35]

Ponnuru's collaboration with Levin also won widespread praise because of Levin's own high standing in the conservative movement: Levin has been called "probably the most influential conservative intellectual of the Obama era" by Jonathan Chait of New York Magazine,[36] while the left leaning The New Republic has described Levin as "the conservative movement’s great intellectual hope" and has said that "despite his youth, Levin had been anointed the next great neoconservative." [37]


  1. ^ a b "Ramesh Ponnuru, Visiting Fellow". AEI.org. Retrieved 3 November 2020.
  2. ^ "Ramesh Ponnuru Archive". Bloomberg View. Retrieved 10 August 2016.
  3. ^ "About Us". National Affairs. Retrieved 10 August 2016.
  4. ^ a b "April Ponnuru, Ramesh Ponnuru (Politico 50)". POLITICO Magazine. 2015. Retrieved 10 August 2016.
  5. ^ Ponnuru, Ramesh. George, Robert Peter; Princeton University. Department of History (eds.). "Abortion in Nineteenth-Century America, in Brief". Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  6. ^ "Catholic and Conservative: A Conversation with Ramesh Ponnuru". Ignatiusinsight.com. Retrieved 25 May 2016.
  7. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on April 16, 2007. Retrieved 5 June 2007.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  8. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on January 30, 2009. Retrieved 21 January 2009.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  9. ^ "Ramesh Ponnuru Archive". National Review. Retrieved 10 August 2016.
  10. ^ "The Empty Playground and the Welfare State". National Review. May 28, 2012. Retrieved 10 August 2016.
  11. ^ Beckworth, David; Ponnuru, Ramesh. "Monetary Regime Change". National Review (28 May 2012). Retrieved 10 August 2016.
  12. ^ Ponnuru, Ramesh; Beckworth, David. "Savers' Real Problem". National Review (2 February 2015). Retrieved 10 August 2016.
  13. ^ "Meet the Press, 21 September 2014". NBC. Retrieved 10 August 2016.
  14. ^ "Face the Nation, 22 May 2016". CBS News. Retrieved 10 August 2016.
  15. ^ "The Future of the Republican Party". YouTube. Program on Constitutional Government, Harvard. Retrieved 10 August 2016.
  16. ^ "Beyond Obamanomics". YouTube. Ashbrook Center. Retrieved 10 August 2016.
  17. ^ "Getting to Know UChicago Institute of Politics Fall 2013 Fellow Ramesh Ponnuru". YouTube. University of Chicago Institute of Politics. Retrieved 10 August 2016.
  18. ^ Abortion Rhymes with Death Goldberg, J. 2006-06-16
  19. ^ A Frigid and Pitiless Dogma Derbyshire, J. June, 2006.
  20. ^ Ponnuru, Ramesh (2006-06-07). "Unreason: John Derbyshire vs. pro-lifers". National Review Online. Archived from the original on 2007-08-07.
  21. ^ The Mystery of Japanese Growth (PDF). American Enterprise Institute / Center for Policy Studies. 1995. ISBN 0844739391.
  22. ^ "Why Hillary Should Fear Optimism". The New York Times (30 July 2016). Retrieved 10 August 2016.
  23. ^ Beckworth, David; Ponnuru, Ramesh. "Subprime Reasoning on Housing". The New York Times (27 January 2016). Retrieved 10 August 2016.
  24. ^ "Let's Not Mention Inequality". The New York Times (9 February 2015). Retrieved 10 August 2016.
  25. ^ "Updating Reaganomics". The New York Times (17 February 2013). Retrieved 10 August 2016.
  26. ^ "The Year of the (Pro-Life) Woman". The New York Times (12 June 2010). Retrieved 10 August 2016.
  27. ^ Ponnuru, Ramesh; Levin, Yuval. "A Conservative Alternative to ObamaCare". Wall Street Journal (14 November 2013). Retrieved 10 August 2016.
  28. ^ "The Gift of Lightheartedness". First Things (April 2009). Retrieved 10 August 2016.
  29. ^ "What McGovern Wrought". First Things (March 2008, Review of "Why the Democrats Are Blue: Secular Liberalism and the Decline of the People’s Party, " by Mark Stricherz). Retrieved 10 August 2016.
  30. ^ Sherman, Jake; Everett, Burgess. "GOP retreat: A busy schedule". Politico (14 January 2015). Retrieved 10 August 2016.
  31. ^ Douthat, Ross. "What Is Reform Conservatism?". New York Times (30 May 2015). Retrieved 10 August 2016.
  32. ^ Tanenhaus, Sam. "Can the G.O.P. Be a Party of Ideas?". The New York Times (2 July 2014). Retrieved 10 August 2016.
  33. ^ Room to Grow. Conservative Reform Network. 2014. Retrieved 10 August 2016.
  34. ^ "Recovering the Wisdom of the Constitution". Room to Grow. Conservative Reform Network. 2014. Retrieved 10 August 2016.
  35. ^ Brooks, David. "The New Right". The New York Times (9 June 2014). Retrieved 10 August 2016.
  36. ^ Chait, Jonathan. "The Facts Are In and Paul Ryan Is Wrong". New York. Retrieved 10 May 2013.
  37. ^ Tracy, Mark (March 25, 2013). "Baby Kristol". The New Republic. Retrieved February 9, 2017.

External linksEdit