Reaction Pours in to Buckley's Passing

Rick Moran
The reaction to the death yesterday of Bil Buckley at the age of 82 is not exactly what you might expect. While conservatives are giving Mr. Buckley credit for his huge contributions to the movement and to defining conservative government, even many on the left are recognizing Buckley's towering intellect and distinctive voice.

And the personal rememberances from all are, as Buckley himself might have said, "just grand:"

Lefty Ed Kilgore:


Buckley once said he offered his frequent polemical enemy Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., a "plenary indulgence" for his errors after Schlesinger leaned over to him during a discussion of the despoilation of forests and whispered: "Better redwoods than deadwoods." And that's certainly how a lot of us on the Left feel about the legacy of William F. Buckley, Jr. (see progressive historian Rick Perlstein's tribute to WFB's decency and generosity at the Campaign for America's Future site). He made us laugh, and made us think, and above all, taught us the value of the English language as a deft and infinitely expressive instrument of persuasion. I'll miss him, and so should you.
And this from liberal writer and commentator Rick Perlstein:
I'm hard on conservatives. I get harder on them just about every day. I call them "con men." I do so without apology. And I cannot deny that William F. Buckley said and did many things over the course of his career that were disgusting as well. I've written about some of them. But this is not the time to go into all that. My friend just passed away at the age of 82. He was a good and decent man. He knew exactly what my politics were about—he knew I was an implacable ideological adversary—yet he offered his friendship to me nonetheless. He did the honor of respecting his ideological adversaries, without covering up the adversarial nature of the relationship in false bonhommie. A remarkable quality, all too rare in an era of the false fetishization of "post-partisanship" and Broderism and go-along-to-get-along. He was friends with those he fought. He fought with friends. These are the highest civic ideals to which an American patriot can aspire.
There were, of course, some discordant notes:
Its only my opinion but I say the wholeness that ties the disparate strains of conservative intentions together is on the strategic scale: they are a little bit afraid of almost everything they don't personally control. That in his last years, Buckley distanced himself from the religious excesses of Bush ideology and disavowed the Iraq war merely inform us that exuberant tacticians do not necessarily recognize the course their unwitting strategy compels.

Even Norman Mailer had to admit, nobody did so good a job as Buckley of dressing up the empty heart of conservatism so that it could be trotted out in the media and attract others who, self aware or not, did not want to share the world as the equals of the outgroups they misperceived or outright projected.
Indeed, the early days of The National Review were marked with some of the most nauseating defenses of Jim Crow segregation imaginable. Buckley never tried to excuse this dark period of the magazine's history, only apologize for it.

But it is the personal rememberances of Buckley - left and right - that are most affecting to read.

Arts critic and Buckley friend
Terry Teachout:
Bill Buckley died this morning. In public life he was a witty, devastatingly effective spokesman for conservatism and the founder of National Review, one of the most influential political magazines of the twentieth century. In private life he was considerate beyond compare, a charismatic host with a magical gift for putting his guests at ease and a passionate amateur pianist who played Bach with fair skill and much love.

I had known him since 1981, when he published the first magazine piece I ever wrote, a review of a book about A.J. Liebling. A year later he wrote a syndicated column about another piece of mine, at a time in my life when I was still trying to find myself as a writer, and my path was smoothed by his generous words. On countless other occasions he helped me in ways I knew I would never be able to repay, though I made a token effort by dedicating my Mencken biography to him.
And Rush Limbaugh has a long, very personal, very affecting tribute. Limbaugh relates that he was alternately awed and delighted in meeting Buckley:
The time arrived, the day arrived, and I had my driver drive around the block four times while I'm mustering the courage to get out of the car and go in. Mr. Buckley's driver was waiting outside on 73rd and Park to greet the arriving guests, all of the editors and maybe some other guests, too. So we finally stop, I got out, and I didn't know it was Mr. Buckley's driver at the time, it was somebody who worked for him, but he told me when I got out of the car. He could not have been nicer. "Everybody's been looking so forward to meeting you, Mr. Limbaugh. We're so glad that you came."

[snip]
 
I was just about to enter the door of Mr. Buckley's maisonette at 73rd and Park. I entered what I thought was a shrine. To my left was a harpsichord. He played the harpsichord. He wasn't playing it at this point of time, but he played it. He was playing it when I walked in some time later as his guest on Firing Line, taped in his living room, which is where I was escorted when I arrived. Folks, I can't describe how nervous I was while at the same time trying not to be and just relax and be myself. I was escorted in. The room was full. I was one of the last to arrive because I'd driven around the block four times, trying to get the courage up to go in. He was the first to stand up and greet me, that charismatic, just love-of-life smile, welcomed me into that room as though I belonged there as much as any other guest did. He asked me what I wanted to drink. I said, "I'd like a Diet Coke," and sat down. I remember Linda Bridges, who announced his death today, was seated to my left.

Look, folks, these people are all the smartest people in the world to me. These are the people that put out National Review! These are the people that helped Bill Buckley in his quest, which was memorable. We owe Bill Buckley every bit the debt. We conservatives owe Bill Buckley every bit the debt that we owe Ronald Reagan. The two occurred simultaneously. And Reagan was also inspired and educated quite a bit by Buckley. They were very, very close friends. We owe Buckley the same kind of gratitude. I was a little mad when I looked at the wire stories today describing Bill Buckley, and when I saw some of the people that AP had gone to talk to. We're dealing here with the death of one of the greatest Americans in our lifetimes, in three or four generations. In my mind, I rank Bill Buckley as a Founding Father. His passing, I hope, in the coming days will be given the attention and respect that it is due. He was much more than a conservative author and TV host, as has been reported earlier today.
The National Review, of course, has been a repository of some of the most emotional tributes. You might want to go to The Corner and just start scrolling down to get a feel for what the people who worked for Bill Buckley thought of him.
The reaction to the death yesterday of Bil Buckley at the age of 82 is not exactly what you might expect. While conservatives are giving Mr. Buckley credit for his huge contributions to the movement and to defining conservative government, even many on the left are recognizing Buckley's towering intellect and distinctive voice.

And the personal rememberances from all are, as Buckley himself might have said, "just grand:"

Lefty Ed Kilgore:


Buckley once said he offered his frequent polemical enemy Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., a "plenary indulgence" for his errors after Schlesinger leaned over to him during a discussion of the despoilation of forests and whispered: "Better redwoods than deadwoods." And that's certainly how a lot of us on the Left feel about the legacy of William F. Buckley, Jr. (see progressive historian Rick Perlstein's tribute to WFB's decency and generosity at the Campaign for America's Future site). He made us laugh, and made us think, and above all, taught us the value of the English language as a deft and infinitely expressive instrument of persuasion. I'll miss him, and so should you.
And this from liberal writer and commentator Rick Perlstein:
I'm hard on conservatives. I get harder on them just about every day. I call them "con men." I do so without apology. And I cannot deny that William F. Buckley said and did many things over the course of his career that were disgusting as well. I've written about some of them. But this is not the time to go into all that. My friend just passed away at the age of 82. He was a good and decent man. He knew exactly what my politics were about—he knew I was an implacable ideological adversary—yet he offered his friendship to me nonetheless. He did the honor of respecting his ideological adversaries, without covering up the adversarial nature of the relationship in false bonhommie. A remarkable quality, all too rare in an era of the false fetishization of "post-partisanship" and Broderism and go-along-to-get-along. He was friends with those he fought. He fought with friends. These are the highest civic ideals to which an American patriot can aspire.
There were, of course, some discordant notes:
Its only my opinion but I say the wholeness that ties the disparate strains of conservative intentions together is on the strategic scale: they are a little bit afraid of almost everything they don't personally control. That in his last years, Buckley distanced himself from the religious excesses of Bush ideology and disavowed the Iraq war merely inform us that exuberant tacticians do not necessarily recognize the course their unwitting strategy compels.

Even Norman Mailer had to admit, nobody did so good a job as Buckley of dressing up the empty heart of conservatism so that it could be trotted out in the media and attract others who, self aware or not, did not want to share the world as the equals of the outgroups they misperceived or outright projected.
Indeed, the early days of The National Review were marked with some of the most nauseating defenses of Jim Crow segregation imaginable. Buckley never tried to excuse this dark period of the magazine's history, only apologize for it.

But it is the personal rememberances of Buckley - left and right - that are most affecting to read.

Arts critic and Buckley friend
Terry Teachout:
Bill Buckley died this morning. In public life he was a witty, devastatingly effective spokesman for conservatism and the founder of National Review, one of the most influential political magazines of the twentieth century. In private life he was considerate beyond compare, a charismatic host with a magical gift for putting his guests at ease and a passionate amateur pianist who played Bach with fair skill and much love.

I had known him since 1981, when he published the first magazine piece I ever wrote, a review of a book about A.J. Liebling. A year later he wrote a syndicated column about another piece of mine, at a time in my life when I was still trying to find myself as a writer, and my path was smoothed by his generous words. On countless other occasions he helped me in ways I knew I would never be able to repay, though I made a token effort by dedicating my Mencken biography to him.
And Rush Limbaugh has a long, very personal, very affecting tribute. Limbaugh relates that he was alternately awed and delighted in meeting Buckley:
The time arrived, the day arrived, and I had my driver drive around the block four times while I'm mustering the courage to get out of the car and go in. Mr. Buckley's driver was waiting outside on 73rd and Park to greet the arriving guests, all of the editors and maybe some other guests, too. So we finally stop, I got out, and I didn't know it was Mr. Buckley's driver at the time, it was somebody who worked for him, but he told me when I got out of the car. He could not have been nicer. "Everybody's been looking so forward to meeting you, Mr. Limbaugh. We're so glad that you came."

[snip]
 
I was just about to enter the door of Mr. Buckley's maisonette at 73rd and Park. I entered what I thought was a shrine. To my left was a harpsichord. He played the harpsichord. He wasn't playing it at this point of time, but he played it. He was playing it when I walked in some time later as his guest on Firing Line, taped in his living room, which is where I was escorted when I arrived. Folks, I can't describe how nervous I was while at the same time trying not to be and just relax and be myself. I was escorted in. The room was full. I was one of the last to arrive because I'd driven around the block four times, trying to get the courage up to go in. He was the first to stand up and greet me, that charismatic, just love-of-life smile, welcomed me into that room as though I belonged there as much as any other guest did. He asked me what I wanted to drink. I said, "I'd like a Diet Coke," and sat down. I remember Linda Bridges, who announced his death today, was seated to my left.

Look, folks, these people are all the smartest people in the world to me. These are the people that put out National Review! These are the people that helped Bill Buckley in his quest, which was memorable. We owe Bill Buckley every bit the debt. We conservatives owe Bill Buckley every bit the debt that we owe Ronald Reagan. The two occurred simultaneously. And Reagan was also inspired and educated quite a bit by Buckley. They were very, very close friends. We owe Buckley the same kind of gratitude. I was a little mad when I looked at the wire stories today describing Bill Buckley, and when I saw some of the people that AP had gone to talk to. We're dealing here with the death of one of the greatest Americans in our lifetimes, in three or four generations. In my mind, I rank Bill Buckley as a Founding Father. His passing, I hope, in the coming days will be given the attention and respect that it is due. He was much more than a conservative author and TV host, as has been reported earlier today.
The National Review, of course, has been a repository of some of the most emotional tributes. You might want to go to The Corner and just start scrolling down to get a feel for what the people who worked for Bill Buckley thought of him.