Wednesday, February 27, 2008

William F. Buckley Jr. dies at age 82

"William F. Buckley Jr., the erudite voice of American conservatism in print and on TV for more than a half-century, died today at his Connecticut home.

The 82-year-old Buckley was found dead inside the Stamford, Conn., house by his cook, said his assistant, Linda Bridges. The prolific author wrote 45 books in addition to hosting one of TV's longest-running shows, "Firing Line," and founding the influential conservative journal the National Review.

Buckley was front and center for the right starting in the years after World War II, a vocal presence from the days of the Eisenhower White House through friend and fan Ronald Reagan's two terms in the '80s and into the new millennium.

Reagan was among those hailing Buckley at the National Review's 30th anniversary in 1985.

Buckley, the son of a Manhattan multi-millionaire with oil money, launched the National Review in an era when conservatism was generally considered dead.

He helped lead the resurgence of the right, stepping down from his spot as the journal's top editor in 1990 and relinquishing control of the publication four years ago.

The Review attracted an assortment of young writers who went on from there, including George Will, David Brooks, Joan Didion and Garry Wills.

But Buckley was often the main attraction, able to crank out his columns in as little as 20 minutes.

The TV show "Firing Line," where the guests ran the gamut from beat poet Allen Ginsburg to former British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan to ex-president Richard Nixon, aired with Buckley as its host from 1966 through 1999.

"You've got to end sometime, and I'd just as soon not die onstage," Buckley said in shutting the show down."

Back when no one knew what in all hells a Conservative was, Bill Buckley was there to show them.

A faithful viewer of Firing Line, I learned from Bill what a modern liberal was, and came to understand that Conservatism wasn't what the Yellowstream Media portrayed it to be; namely a gaggle of rednecks trying to outdo one another at tabacky-spittin' contests and moonshine makin's.

Not that theres anything wrong with either, mind you, but for quite a while we actually had someone who could intellectualize with the best of them.

Buckley was so very brilliant and well spoken, that liberals had to re-tool the template they used to describe Conservatives, and it took the arrival of George Bush to bring Conservatism down a peg or two, something they gleefully embraced while running dumb-old hillbilly tales each and every time he said 'nukular'.

Yes, Buckley delivered us from evil, proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that Conservatives could be well educated, intelligent men, but unfortunately no one journeyed under his influence to continue the effort. Yes, he did begin to droop somewhat in his dislike for the war in Iraq, but at the end of the day and towards the bottom line of all bottom lines, William F. Buckley was a man amongst men and he will be missed.

And, even in death, he continues to shape the world around him. I have it on good authority that John McCain had been pestering Bill to become his running mate in order to make himself appear younger. Rumor had it that Bill was holding out for a call from Obama or Hillary.

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