Wednesday, February 27, 2008


William F. Buckley moves on

The man who introduced intellectualism to conservative politics died today. The magazine he founded, National Review, has a symposium and a slide show. I'll gather up some thoughts and type them out a little later on, but I miss his style of conservatism in the age of Limbaugh and Coulter.

Buckley's career took off in the 1950s with the book "Up From Liberalism," wherein on the very first page he warned of the danger that “comes when a distrust of doctrinaire social systems eases over into a dissolute disregard for principle.” It was perhaps an early plea for what would decades later be referred to as "compassionate conservatism. He also differed from his fellow conservatives from a libertarian perspective on the drug war. In fact, he would take his sailboat out of American legal jurisdiction waters and smoked marijuana (apparently not concerned about the possession issues up to that point) and was quite open about it. And more recently, he broke with his fellow NRO team to oppose the Iraq war.

And while other conservatives felt betrayed by Buckley's protege Michael Lind when the latter made the journey to the liberal dark side in the mid 1990s, Buckley maintained the utmost respect for Lind and continued to publish him. This even after Lind wrote a book and named it in parody "Up from Conservatism."

This isn't the most flattering remembrance of him, but it's a famous clip from a debate between Buckley and Gore Vidal during the 1868 Democratic Party convention. During the exchange Vidal calls Buckley a "crypto-nazi" and Buckley threatened to punch Vidal in the nose. Vidal later apologized saying he'd meant to say "crypto-fascist" rather than "crypto-nazi."

Here's an old debate with Noam Chomsky.

The photo comes from Britannica.

crypto-fascist is so much better than crypto-nazi.
He had an impressive vocabulary, though I doubt that an original idea ever occurred to him.

It's too bad that his heirs at the National Review are such poor writers. At least Buckley's work was readable.
82! Gawd, do we have to wait that long for Limbaugh, Hannity, Medved and the rest of that crowd to drop dead?
I won't include Ann Coulter - she'll be as good as dead when the wrinkles start outpacing the face lifts.
Firing Line was the best thing PBS ever had to offer.
One of the best quotes about Buckley is that he "was so conservative that he would even fly on a plane with a left wing".
"more wealth for the few and fuck everyone else."
I am a liberal, but found William to be an engaging guest on talk shows. He was very eloquent, I thought. He reminds somewhat of Gore Vidal.
I've never killed a man, but I have read a few obituaries with joy. Buckley was brain-dead years ago, I'm glad he's dead. Fuck him.
Both Buckley and Gory Vidal seem really old even to me but you said “a famous clip from a debate between Buckley and Gore Vidal during the 1868 Democratic Party convention”.
Buckley is just a Republican silver spooned blowhard with a thesaurus. Fuck him.
Bill was probably more famous among the masses for his reptilian mannerisms than his philosophy. He was of the intellectual right as is G. Will.. A far cry from the idiot prince Bush.
William F. Buckley moves on

Moves on to where? Would heaven be conservative enough for him?
The pastures of flat taxes and free trade.
oh, you mean hell. lol
American Spectator is much better of a read than National Review. What's your favorite fascist magazine?
Auntie Mayme said......

I recall William wanted all drugs legalized.
I don't know about all drugs, but certainly marijuana. He had one of those multiple participant debates where there were four people on each side of the drug war. Buckley and Ira Glasser (ACLU head at the time) were on the same side. Pat Schroeder was on the pro-drug war side and said to Glasser, "so you agree with Bill..." Glasser interrupted her and said "hardly ever!" to the laughter of the whole room.

But yes, he had a libertarian streak.
He was also a stuck-up rich Catholic elitist who thought prostestants were gouche.
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