I am not conservative in many of my beliefs. However, I was raised by conservatives in a house where Bill Buckley was revered. The only non-art magazine (my dad was an art teacher) that my dad read regularly was ‘National Review‘. As a teenager I didn’t like much about the magazine, other than the fact it was as well edited and written as anything outside of the ‘New Yorker’.
As an adult, I grew to understand and appreciate what Buckley did for the conservative movement (practically a mid-wife to most of the biggest names in the movement today), not only providing eloquent apologetics for conservatism, but almost single-handedly steering them away from the shoals of the far-right (John Birchers) and the nearly anarchic uber-libertarian wing (Ayn Rand and her ilk).
Buckley was not easy to pigeon-hole and made no apologies for his elite inheritance. His native wit and command of the language not only made his magazine worth reading, but also provided some of the most fun spy novels of the latter 20th century (Blackford Oakes). He supported legalization of marijuana and came to oppose the war in Iraq, practically invented Ronald Reagan, as well as siring one of the funniest satirical novelists of our lifetime (Christopher Buckley).
His magazine stands in harsh contrast to the tinniness and thought-by-bromide nastiness of talk radio. He was a humorous polymath, and despite the fact that I agree so little with what he has spawned, I can’t help but be saddened by this loss. Today’s GOP (especially the Tennessee popinjays) would do well to emulate his civility and rapier wit, but I’m thinking they won’t (and maybe that’s not so bad for my ‘side’)