Thursday, February 28, 2008

R.I.P. Bill Buckley

William F. Buckley died Wednesday at the age of 82. His assistant Linda Bridges said Buckley was found dead by his cook, in his Stamford Connecticut home. The cause of death wasn’t immediately known, but he had been ill with emphysema, she said.

Buckley founded the biweekly magazine National Review in 1955, declaring that he proposed to stand "athwart history, yelling `Stop' at a time when no one is inclined to do so, or to have much patience with those who urge it." Not only did he help revive conservative ideology, especially unbending anti-Communism and free market economics, his persona was a dynamic break from such dour right-wing predecessors as Sen. Robert Taft.

The National Review could do little to prevent Goldwater's landslide defeat in 1964, but as conservatives gained influence so did Buckley and his magazine. The long rise would culminate in 1980 when Buckley's good friend, Ronald Reagan, was elected president. The outsiders were now in, a development Buckley accepted with a touch of rue.

"It's true. I had much more fun criticizing than praising," he told The Washington Post in 1985. "I criticize Reagan from time to time, but it's nothing like Carter or Johnson."

Buckley had for years been withdrawing from public life, starting in 1990 when he stepped down as top editor of the National Review. In December 1999, he closed down "Firing Line" after a 23-year run of guests ranging from Richard Nixon to Allen Ginsberg. "You've got to end sometime and I'd just as soon not die onstage," he told the audience.

Although he boasted he would never debate a Communist "because there isn't much to say to someone who believes the moon is made of green cheese," Buckley got on well with political foes. Among his friends were such liberals as John Kenneth Galbraith and Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr., who claim to have despised Buckley's "wrathful conservatism, but came to admire him for his "wit, his passion for the harpsichord, his human decency, even for his compulsion to epater the liberals."

America owes a great debt to the great William F. Buckley.


GrEaT sAtAn'S gIrLfRiEnD said...

Very good stuff for WFB - I am just now learning about him and he was like the crown prince of the right. Thank you for sharing this.

Uncle Joe said...

R.I.P. William F. Buckley. We could use more like him nowdays.

JMK said...

WoW GSGF! Then reading some of his work will be a rare treat for you.

William F Buckley started National Review in the early fifties, in the wake of America's victory in WWII and at a time when Liberalism reigned supreme in this country, at least politically.

He saw the Democrats gain and hold Congress from 1956 - 1994, he was close to the Goldwater campaign and finally saw Conservatism triumph twenty years later when Ronald Reagan and later, newt Gingrich brought Conservatism to great political victories.

We are now in a period where we've lost ground.

Sadly, Tom DeLay and Dennis Hastert were mere "political hacks," NOT true believers like Gingrich and Reagan.

The GOP leadership failed Conservatism, by being cynical and dishonest. Very early on, dissenters from the "Gingrich Revolution" (like DeLay & Hastert)sought to undermine Term Limits and other parts of the Conservative agenda.

Consider that the GOP tried to eliminate the AMT (the Alternative Minimum Tax) back in 1999, when Bill Clinton vetoed it.

They had a Republican in the WH and control of Congress from 2001 - 2007 and failed to ONCE bring that up for a vote during that time.

Politics ISN'T a team sport, but most politicians act is though it were.

Politics impacts all our lives and so we can't afford "brand loyalty" to a brand that doesn't hold to our ideology.

That said, I still look ALWAYS to vote for the "most Conservative candidate."

Uncle Joe's right, that we could use a Buckley or a Reagan today, but we don't even need that level of charisma (though that ain't bad), what we need is someone who can articulate and annunciate core Conservative principles.

There are any number of people around who can do that, but we need to organize groups and movements to support those who do that.

On a slightly brighter note, many observers point out that the much more enthusiastic Democratic Primary support bodes very poorly for Republicans in November, but the one thing the GOP has always been able to count on has been the Democrats ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. They always manage a "Dukakis moment," sometimes several in the same cycle.

Conservatives are going to have to hope for some of those, because we certainly don't have "the second coming of Ronald Reagan" running this time around.

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