William F. Buckley dead at 82
William F. Buckley, the last conservative intellectual, has died at 82 from indeterminate causes. In all actuality, he'll be remembered as the guy who snarled "Now listen, you queer, you stop calling me a crypto-Nazi or I'll sock you in the goddamn face and you'll stay plastered," at Gore Vidal in a televised debate about the police response to the Chicago DNC riots. And though that will always give me a left-wing smirk, by all rights he should be remembered for being the alpha and the omega of conservatives who were celebrated for being well reasoned (even if wrong). He brought back the conservative movement in the 1950s with the National Review and he was the final conservative pundit who articulated himself on a national stage like this, in all its pompous glory:
The current spat of AM talk show hosts don't talk that way, or think that way. His smart logic has been replaced by emotional appeals. I won't miss what he said, but I will miss that he said it. He represented the last wisp of the debate over conservative and liberal policy before it turned to a debate over Republicanism and Democratism, the straight ticket party politics Buckley abhorred.
The New York Times obit ends with a quote from one of his books. Combined with the above video and the Vidal link, it perfectly it sums up his public life. I'll steal it.
In the end it was Mr. Buckley's graceful, often self-deprecating wit that endeared him to others. In his spy novel Who's on First, he described the possible impact of his National Review through his character Boris Bolgin.
" 'Do you ever read the National Review, Jozsef?' asks Boris Bolgin, the chief of KGB counter intelligence for Western Europe, 'it is edited by this young bourgeois fanatic.'"