William F. Buckley Jr. Is Dead

Written by  //  June 13, 2009  //  Adam Daifallah, Media, Politics  //  No comments

Conrad Black’s umbrage over the Christopher Buckley memoir of his remarkable parents does less to diminish the book’s charm and much more to highlight Mr. Black’s serious lack of humour – and more important – whimsy.

Conrad Black
: Christopher Buckley’s book of grievances
Chrisopher Buckley’s complicated new little book, Losing Mum and Pup, is more about the author than his parents. Much of it is spent trying to justify his words over his mother’s corpse: “I forgive you,” and his endless recitation of grievances against his father. It was my honour to know Bill and Pat Buckley well for about twenty years. I don’t doubt that as parents they could have been outrageous, inattentive and arbitrary at times, though never uncivilized.
Christopher is a blancmange moderate and a run-of-the-mill agnostic who purported to find it a triumph of etymology that when awakened by New York’s Cardinal Edward Egan on the telephone, offering the mighty St. Patrick’s Cathedral for a memorial service for his father, he knew, though only barely, to address him as “Your Eminence.”
Bill Buckley’s political views were important. They were long unfashionable; McGeorge Bundy wrote the first of countless nasty reviews of him in the New York Times more than fifty years ago, referring to Bill’s “twisted views.” He endured endless opprobrium, right to the grave from the most psychotically odious of all American writers, Gore Vidal; but he advanced his opinions with eloquence, courage, wit and trenchancy, and they influenced America.
Bill was so urbane and civilized, the genteel left became gradually convinced that he was really one of them, and was a charming gadfly. This was partly a frustrated response to their inability to defeat him in oral or written debate. And it also reflected Bill’s easy friendliness with many people on the left, including J.K. Galbraith, George McGovern, John Kerry and some of the Kennedys.
22 April 2009
Growing Up Buckley
A long and delightful excerpt of Christopher Buckley’s forthcoming book Losing Mum and Pup: A Memoir
27 February 2008
Much as we disagreed with almost anything he said or wrote, Bill Buckley was one of the most erudite, witty, delightful and stimulating public figures of our lifetime. What strikes us in reading the many effusive tributes to Mr. Buckley is that no matter from which end of the political spectrum, all are affectionate and respectful – a rare achievement in these days when excellence is likely to be the prime target for detractors.  The New York Times does a masterful job of portraying the sometimes infuriating qualities that endeared him to us.

Mr. Buckley marshaled polysyllabic exuberance and a refined, perspicacious mind to elevate conservatism to the center of American political discourse.
Mr. Buckley’s winningly capricious personality, replete with ten-dollar words and a darting tongue writers loved to compare with an anteater’s, hosted one of television’s longest-running programs, “Firing Line,” and founded and shepherded the influential conservative magazine, “National Review.”
He also found time to write at least 55 books, ranging from sailing odysseys to spy novels to celebrations of his own dashing daily life, and to edit five more. His political novel “The Rake” was published last August, and a book looking back at the National Review’s history in November; a personal memoir of Barry Goldwater is due to be publication in April, and Mr. Buckley was working on a similar book about Ronald Reagan for release in the fall.
The more than 4.5 million words of his 5,600 biweekly newspaper columns, “On the Right,” would fill 45 more medium-sized books.
Mr. Buckley’s greatest achievement was making conservatism — not just electoral Republicanism, but conservatism as a system of ideas — respectable in liberal post-World War II America. He mobilized the young enthusiasts who helped nominate Barry Goldwater in 1964, and saw his dreams fulfilled when Reagan and the Bushes captured the Oval Office.
“All great biblical stories begin with Genesis,” George Will wrote in the National Review in 1980. “And before there was Ronald Reagan, there was Barry Goldwater, and before there was Barry Goldwater there was National Review, and before there was National Review there was Bill Buckley with a spark in his mind, and the spark in 1980 has become a conflagration.”
Full article

A Magazine Mourns Its Founder
The writers that followed in William F. Buckley’s footsteps at The National Review are mourning his death today in post after post on The Corner, the magazine’s main blog.
The tributes are warm, wonderful and many are witty.
I am saddened by the passing of William F. Buckley, but our loss is Heaven’s gain, and I’m sure the Good Lord told his angels to “Bring me a dictionary, Buckley’s coming.”

(Mediabistro.com)William F. Buckley, Erudite Voice of the Conservative Movement, Dies (WaPo)
William F. Buckley Jr., the intellectual father of the modern American conservative movement, who helped define its doctrines of anti-communism, military strength, social order, and a capitalist economy, died yesterday at his desk. Buckley was a magazine editor, syndicated columnist, television and radio talk show host, novelist, and a witty and gifted orator and raconteur. In 1955, at the age of 29, he founded National Review. WaPo: What a grand and grandiloquent monster of genial and mischievous self-creation William Buckley was, writes Henry Allen. NYT: Buckley found time to write more than 50 books, varying from sailing odysseys and spy novels to dissertations on harpsichord fingering and celebrations of his own dashing daily life. He edited at l east five more. NY Sun: Buckley was, in all things, a leader and a mensch, something for conservatives — and liberals — to remember as they seek role models for the future. NY Sun: Buckley was “a stupendous American,” writes Emmett Tyrell. Slate: Buckley outlived the conservativism he created.

David Brooks’ Remembering the Mentor
When I was in college, William F. Buckley Jr. wrote a book called “Overdrive” in which he described his glamorous lifestyle. Since I was young and a smart-aleck, I wrote a parody of it for the school paper.
“Buckley spent most of his infancy working on his memoirs,” I wrote in my faux-biography. “By the time he had learned to talk, he had finished three volumes: ‘The World Before Buckley,’ which traced the history of the world prior to his conception; ‘The Seeds of Utopia,’ which outlined his effect on world events during the nine months of his gestation; and ‘The Glorious Dawn,’ which described the profound ramifications of his birth on the social order.”
The piece went on in this way. I noted that his ability to turn water into wine added to his popularity at prep school. I described his college memoirs: “God and Me at Yale,” “God and Me at Home” and “God and Me at the Movies.” I recounted that after college he had founded two magazines, one called The National Buckley and the other called The Buckley Review, which merged to form The Buckley Buckley.
I wrote that his hobbies included extended bouts of name-dropping and going into rooms to make everyone else feel inferior.
Buckley came to the University of Chicago, delivered a lecture and said: “David Brooks, if you’re in the audience, I’d like to offer you a job.” …

Adam Daifallah on the death of William F. Buckley: A public intellectual in the truest sense
… Buckley was a hero to conservatives, each for their own reasons. For some, he introduced them to conservatism. For others, he was a fun interviewer and interesting writer. For still others, he opened their eyes to the Catholic faith.
To me, it was that everything about him was just so cool. His lifestyle. The way he famously leaned back in his chair. The way he dressed. His cocksure interviewing style. His magniloquent prose. He was one of the last true renaissance men and represented everything that today’s political pundits aren’t: He chose substance over sound bites and carefully-explained nuance over shock value. He was a public intellectual in the truest sense of that term — a genius with a remarkable gift for vulgarization.

January 2009
Mr. and Mrs. Right, By Bob Colacello
(Vanity Fair) They called each other “Ducky.” And they died within months of each other, in April 2007 and February 2008, as if William F. Buckley Jr., the famously polysyllabic founder of the modern conservative movement (and of its literary flagship, the National Review), could not go on without Patricia, the equally opinionated social lioness he’d married 57 years earlier.
His memorial service was at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, on Fifth Avenue. Hers was at the Temple of Dendur, in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. His was a Requiem Mass, with 18 priests, banks of Easter lilies along the altar rail, and Bach’s Second Brandenburg Concerto for a postlude. Hers was a Celebration of the Life, with a brief benediction, a gigantic bouquet of fuchsia rhododendrons behind the lectern, and Rodgers and Hart’s “Isn’t It Romantic?” on the soundtrack of the opening photomontage. His was open to the public, and a capacity crowd of around 2,200 mourners—a sprinkling of socialites and journalists engulfed by a legion of right-wing eggheads—squeezed into the cathedral’s pews. Hers was by invitation only, and socialites vastly outnumbered eggheads among the approximately 400 select, each of whom was perched on a gilded ballroom chair with a hot-pink cushion.
Henry Kissinger spoke at both.

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