Roger Kimball took the occasion of William F. Buckley Jr.’s posthumous 87th birthday to remember a friend he describes, in conscious emulation of that particular friend’s fondness for sesquipedelian expression, as “an affirmative, not an apophatic, character.”
Emerson, who wasn’t wrong about everything, devoted a book to Representative Men, men who epitomized some essential quality: Shakespeare; or, the Poet; Napoleon; or, the Man of the World; Goethe; or, the Writer. Bill was, in Emerson’s sense, a Representative Man. One cannot quite imagine Emerson getting his mind around a character like William F. Buckley Jr. But if one can conjure up a less gaseous redaction of Emerson, one may suppose him writing an essay called Buckley; or, the Conservative. ...
Being conservative may commit one to certain political positions or moral dogmas. But it also, and perhaps more importantly, disposes one to a certain attitude toward life. The 19th-century English writer Walter Bagehot touched upon one essential aspect of the conservative disposition when, in an essay on Scott, he observed that “the essence of Toryism is enjoyment.” Whatever else it was, Bill’s life was an affidavit of enjoyment: a record of, an homage to, a life greatly, and gratefully, enjoyed. What delight he took in–well, in everything. Playing the piano or harpsichord, savoring a glass of vinho verde, dissecting the latest news from Washington, inspecting with wonder the capabilities of email and internet service on a Blackberry handheld.
This Buckley video is movingly nostalgic. Bill Buckley is so young and elegant. Of course, watching him perform, one cannot avoid noticing the very characteristic way he systematically relies upon style in deliberate preference to substance. It is also fascinating to look back and realize just how “insensitive” Buckley could get away with being way back in 1965. No conservative intellectual today could display such public disregard for the sacred cows of civil rights and sodomy, or so condescend to a prominent queer Black author. The topic was: “Has the American Dream Been Achieved at the Expense of the American Negro?” Buckley here, of course, represents one small voice trying to stand in the face of an onrushing avalanche of compensatory racial privilege yelling, “Stop!” In 1965, it was still vaguely possible to argue that a massive new era of coercive National Reconstruction and indoctrination was not really morally or practically necessary. Today, four more decades worth of Americans have been taught from infancy that coercive racial egalitarianism represents the most vital moral necessity as well as the supreme triumph of human civilization and political philosophy.
Conservative author and commentator William F. Buckley (1925-2008) was asked, in 1967, whom he would support in 1968 for U.S. president. Buckley responded with what would late be called the ‘Buckley Rule” for primary voting: “The wisest choice would be the one who would win. No sense running Mona Lisa in a beauty contest. I’d be for the most right, viable candidate who could win. If you could convince me that Barry Goldwater could win, I’d vote for him.”
Yesterday, in reference to the Delaware GOP Senate primary in which Tea Party candidate Christine O’Donnell supported by Sarah Palin defeated moderate Republican Mike Castle supported by Karl Rove, Rush Limbaugh proposed replacing the Buckley Rule with a new rule of his own.
So we have professional Washingtonians now telling us that Mike Castle’s the only option we’ve got. Well, it’s time, ladies and gentlemen, for the Limbaugh Rule to supplant and replace the Buckley Rule, because the Buckley Rule requires clairvoyance. The Buckley Rule requires people who can’t possibly know the outcome of anything in the middle of September to support or not support somebody based on what they think’s going to happen in early November. Christine O’Donnell can’t win, she’s 25 points down. Can’t win? If a constitutional conservative can’t win in this climate coming down from 25 points, we need to find that out, find out where we are. Why not go for it? The stakes dictate it, do they not? Here’s the Limbaugh Rule: In an election year when voters are fed up with liberalism and socialism, when voters are clearly frightened of where the hell the country is headed, vote for the most conservative Republican in the primary, period.
Rush was perfectly right.
In general, it is better to back the conservative candidate and go down to defeat in the general election in an unfavorable year than to try calculation and support a RINO Republican, like John McCain, Arlen Specter, Lincoln Chaffee, Olympia Snowe, Susan Collins, and the like, in hope of support on the organization of the Senate and the occasional vote.
In every serious contest during the Bush Administration, confirmation of judges, making tax cuts permanent, Social Security reform, reforming Fannie Mae, RINO Republicans sided with the democrats and foiled GOP policy. If we had not had so many RINOs, George W. Bush might have successfully privatized Social Security and prevented the Housing Bubble from collapsing. There might have been no Panic of 2008 and no democrat control of Congress, no Barack Obama.
We have to win the battle of idea and achieve victory in the national debate. There is no shortcut to conservative success achievable by compromising and taking a certain number of liberal RINO Republicans along for the ride. They will always undermine and betray any possibility of actually accomplishing something with a Republican majority. We need to elect a majority of real Republicans, and if we can’t put a principled and conservative Republican into a legislative seat, we should just need to go back and try again, and do a better job of opposing the incumbent democrat in the next election.
The rich are different from you and me”, says Nick Carraway in Scott Fitzgerald’s Great Gatsby, prompting Hemingway to retort: “Yes. They have more money.”
But even the rich are not immune from the impact of the current recession and the real estate market collapse.
The New York Times reports that the price of William F. Buckley, Jr.’s splendiferous Manhattan pied-a-terre has been slashed by slightly more than half.
THE worldly and the clever gathered at the dinner parties that William F. Buckley Jr. and his wife, Pat, gave in their Park Avenue maisonette. Yet even though the chairs in the formal dining room are still covered in chartreuse leopard print, it has been quite a while since anyone but a broker or a prospective buyer has spent much time there.
Mrs. Buckley, a socialite and mainstay of the charity circuit, died in 2007, and Mr. Buckley, the writer and godfather of modern conservatism, followed 10 months later in early 2008. Their 10-room duplex came on the market at $24.5 million in May 2008, but there were no takers; in early 2009, as the real estate market was choking, the estate decided to take down the for-sale sign.
Now, more than a year later, the apartment at 778 Park Avenue has been relisted at $12 million, less than half the original asking price. And it is not the only listing in the building to have had to, ahem, adjust its price. The late Brooke Astor’s 15th-floor duplex, with 14 rooms and 6 terraces, started at $46 million in May 2008 and is now being offered for $24.9 million.
Ms. Del Nunzio is quick to point out that the apartment has “the most extraordinary suite of entertaining rooms that you could find,” with a private entrance on East 73rd Street and an 18-foot-long marble entry hall that opens onto a 27-foot-long gallery, leading to a living room, a library and a dining room.
“This is the place,” Ms. Del Nunzio continued, “where all those conversations and dinners with statesmen and political figures, not to mention film and television stars, with a quiet family dinner thrown in here and there, happened. This is a rare opportunity to acquire a piece of New York’s intellectual history.”
I found it distasteful to vote for a liberal democrat in the Connecticut Senate Race of 1988, but William F. Buckley Jr. had proposed that conservative Republicans do precisely that in order to rid the US Senate and the Republican Party of that odious skunk Lowell Weicker, and Buckley’s reasoning made sense.
At the time, of course, we hoped we would go on to capture back that Senate seat six years later with a real Republican, but that never happened.
Who would have ever have imagined that voting for Joe Lieberman all those years ago would again result in joy?
It is very possible that Bill Buckley’s delivery of conservative support to Joe Lieberman in 1988 may now, 21 years later, save the country from the democrat party left’s attempt to nationalize 1/6th of the US economy. That good man Joe Lieberman has announced that he will support the GOP filibuster in the Senate blocking passage of the public option.
LMAO Watch the netroot’s heads explode.They betrayed Lieberman for Ned Who?, let’s not forget that. Now that failed Lefty power grab is coming back to bite them on the azz. There’s absolutely no reason for Lieberman to cave on this. They gave him the opportunity to show his strength as an Independent and he proved it. Choke on that, Libs.
About 30 years ago, William F. Buckley, Jr. published a monumentally insensitive obituary in which his own subjectivity and personality were allowed to usurp the space traditionally reserved for compliments toward and expressions of personal regard for the recently departed. A number of friends of the deceased, including present company, were absolutely infuriated, and some of us never really looked upon WFB in exactly the same way again afterwards.
A tradition of inappropriately self-indulgent behavior in the face of death must be part of the Buckley family culture, because here is Chris Buckley in this week’s Sunday Times Magazine cheerfully quoting Oscar Wilde (“Jack: I have lost both my parents. Lady Bracknell: To lose one parent, Mr. Worthing, may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness.”) as an epigraph to a feature on the deaths of his parents, before moving right along to share, with awe-inspiring complacency, the sorts of private details and opinions on family relationships and deathbed scenes which the overwhelming majority of us do not share.
Soon after, a doctor came in to remove the respirator. It was quiet and peaceful in the room, just pings and blips from the monitor. I stroked her hair and said, the words coming out of nowhere, surprising me, “I forgive you.”
It sounded, even at the time, like a terribly presumptuous statement.
Indeed, it did.
Professional writers, I tend to think, particularly those of Ivy League background, acquire too commonly an addiction to attention. They sometimes just don’t know when to stop.
Ross Douthat, in the New York Times Book Review, offers depressed conservatives some winter cheer with a delightful anecdote about the first meeting of William F. Buckley with Ronald Reagan.
On the night that William F. Buckley met Ronald Reagan, the future president of the United States put his elbow through a plate-glass window. The year was 1961, and the two men were in Beverly Hills, where Buckley, perhaps the most famous conservative in America at the tender age of 35, was giving an address at a school auditorium. Reagan, a former Hollywood leading man dabbling in political activism — the Tim Robbins or Alec Baldwin of his day — had been asked to do the introductions.
But the microphone was dead, the technician was nowhere to be found and the control room was locked. As the crowd began to grumble, Reagan coolly opened one of the auditorium windows, stepped onto a ledge two stories above the street and inched his way around to the control room. He smashed his elbow through the glass and clambered in through the broken window. “In a minute there was light in the upstairs room,” Buckley later wrote, “and then we could hear the crackling of the newly animated microphone.”
Chris Buckley snidely takes his leave of National Review (and the Conservative Movement), indignantly remarking on the narrowness and intolerance of a Conservatism which prefers moose-hunters to Harvard men, and which has a problem with supporting an ultra-liberal democrat with a closet-full of unsavory radical connections for the White House on the same kind of class consciousness basis that led Dean Acheson to refuse to “turn (his) back on Alger Hiss.”
Within hours of my endorsement appearing in The Daily Beast it became clear that National Review had a serious problem on its hands. So the next morning, I thought the only decent thing to do would be to offer to resign my column there. This offer was accepted—rather briskly!—by Rich Lowry, NR’s editor, and its publisher, the superb and able and fine Jack Fowler. I retain the fondest feelings for the magazine that my father founded, but I will admit to a certain sadness that an act of publishing a reasoned argument for the opposition should result in acrimony and disavowal.
My father in his day endorsed a number of liberal Democrats for high office, including Allard K. Lowenstein and Joe Lieberman. One of his closest friends on earth was John Kenneth Galbraith. ...
My point, simply, is that William F. Buckley held to rigorous standards, and if those were met by members of the other side rather than by his own camp, he said as much. My father was also unpredictable, which tends to keep things fresh and lively and on-their-feet. ... Finally, and hardly least, he was fun. God, he was fun. He liked to mix it up.
So, I have been effectively fatwahed (is that how you spell it?) by the conservative movement, and the magazine that my father founded must now distance itself from me. But then, conservatives have always had a bit of trouble with the concept of diversity. The GOP likes to say it’s a big-tent. Looks more like a yurt to me.
While I regret this development, I am not in mourning, for I no longer have any clear idea what, exactly, the modern conservative movement stands for. Eight years of “conservative” government has brought us a doubled national debt, ruinous expansion of entitlement programs, bridges to nowhere, poster boy Jack Abramoff and an ill-premised, ill-waged war conducted by politicians of breathtaking arrogance. As a sideshow, it brought us a truly obscene attempt at federal intervention in the Terry Schiavo case.
So, to paraphrase a real conservative, Ronald Reagan: I haven’t left the Republican Party. It left me.
Supporting Allard Lowenstein against Nassau County Republican John Wydler, Chris is right, was an irresponsible, un-conservative abberation in which Bill Buckley obviously allowed personal friendship to outweigh principle. His support of Joe Lieberman against the egregious Republican-in-Name-Only Lowell Weicker was, on the other hand, an impeccably sound conservative decision. And Buckley père may have liked John Kenneth Galbraith as a skiing or drinking buddy, but he certainly never endorsed Galbraith’s fallacious economic opinions and pernicious political positions.
Chris shouldn’t be surprised that an October Dolchstoß (“backstab”) in favor of the most radical and exotic democrat ever to threaten the freedom of the American Republic would not cause the gang at the Conservative Movement’s favorite bar to offer to buy him any drinks.
Rich Lowry describes Chris’s resignation offer rather differently, quoting him as promising that were his offer to depart to be accepted, there “would be no hard feelings, only warmest regards and understanding.” Chris’s second Daily Beast column features plenty of hard feelings.
Too bad for us that we’re so narrow-minded that we actually allow mere political ideology to stand in the way of Ivy League Establishment solidarity, Marxists included, against those uncouth Alaskan gentiles.
This from the son of the man who wrote: “I’d rather entrust the government of the United States to the first 400 people listed in the Boston telephone directory than to the faculty of Harvard University.”
At a moment in history when things look black for Conservatism, the sad news arrives that the last of the giants who created the post-WWII Conservative Movement and fundamentally changed the direction of American politics, William F. Buckley, Jr. was found dead in his Stamford, Connecticut home today.
Reading the numerous tributes to William F. Buckley this morning, I found the following by Mona Charen in the Washington Post.
Woody Allen is reputed to have said that it was better not to meet people you revere—the disappointment was always so crushing. But no one fortunate enough to meet or know William F. Buckley Jr., who passed away yesterday at the age of 82, could say that. A man of coruscating wit (he’d approve of that word), he was also, by universal acclamation, the most gracious man on the planet. Legend he was, but in a small group, it was always Bill who rushed to get a chair for the person left standing. It was always Bill who reached to fill your glass. It was always Bill who volunteered to give you a lift wherever you were going, insisting it was on his way.
I first met William Buckley as a freshman at college.
Only a few years earlier, Buckley had established a new visibility for conservative ideas, making himself into a national celebrity in the process, appearing regularly on television news programs and late night talk shows to deliver heretical viewpoints and analyses that sailed out far over the heads of his media interlocutors. I remember with fondness his first appearance on the Jack Paar program. Paar was reduced to playing the smiley, faux-modest Everyman, telling Buckley that he couldn’t understand Buckley’s political and philosophical concepts, but felt that Mr. Buckley must have no heart.
By my freshman year, Buckley had become a national celebrity and a major political figure. That year at the Yale Political Union, William F. Buckley returned to Yale to debate Yale University’s leftist chaplain William Sloane Coffin on the proposition: “Resolved: Government has an obligation to promote equality as well as preserve liberty.” Visiting Political Union speakers were normally dined at Mory’s by Political Union officials and table space was limited. Buckley was that year’s top YPU draw, and there was not the slightest possibility that a mere freshman could obtain seating at that highly-coveted table.
Nonetheless, I was very interested in seeing William F. Buckley perform at close range, and I was by no means lacking in initiative and determination as a young man. I simply proceeded to Mory’s without an invitation, and took up a standing position by the entrance to the private dining room where I could conveniently listen to the conversation and look on.
At age 17, it was not much of a burden to stand up to listen in on this particular dinner for an hour or two, but before very long Buckley looked up, noticed me standing there, and immediately rose from the table, summoned a waiter and demanded that an extra chair be provided. He took the chair out of the waiter’s hand, made room, and positioned it near the table himself. It was the kind of expansively generous display of courtesy, not terribly commonly encountered, but recognizably characteristic of native citizens of Olympian levels of the old-fashioned American boarding school/Ivy League aristocracy.
Buckley’s kindly gesture was even noticed by reporters, and a month later a feature on the debate gleefully described Buckley as personally seating at his dinner someone Esquire magazine described as looking like “a teen-age banker.”
An editorial by William F. Buckley, Jr., who turned 80 last November, appeared yesterday in which the author declared that the “American objective in Iraq has failed” and that there should be an “acknowledgement of defeat.” It is very sad that these sorts of embarassing statements were published, and those of us who have long been associated with Mr. Buckley in the conservative movement are terribly sorry to learn of his condition in this way. Our best wishes to Mr. Buckley and his family.