William Buckley RIP

Posted by Kendall Harmon

William F. Buckley Jr., who marshaled polysyllabic exuberance, famously arched eyebrows and a refined, perspicacious mind to elevate conservatism to the center of American political discourse, died Wednesday at his home in Stamford, Conn.

Mr Buckley, 82, suffered from diabetes and emphysema, his son Christopher said, although the exact cause of death was not immediately known. He was found at his desk in the study of his home, his son said. “He might have been working on a column,” Mr. Buckley said.

Mr. Buckley’s winningly capricious personality, replete with ten-dollar words and a darting tongue writers loved to compare with an anteater’s, hosted one of television’s longest-running programs, “Firing Line,” and founded and shepherded the influential conservative magazine, “National Review.”

He also found time to write 45 books, ranging from sailing odysseys to spy novels to celebrations of his own dashing daily life, and edit five more. Two more books, one a political novel, and the other a history of the magazine called “Cancel Your Own Goddam Subscription” are scheduled to be published in 2007.

The more than 4.5 million words of his 5,600 biweekly newspaper columns, “On the Right,” would fill 45 more medium-sized books.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMedia

Posted February 27, 2008 at 12:52 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

1. dwstroudmd+ wrote:

May light perpetual shine upon him.  May he rest in peace.

February 27, 2:09 pm | [comment link]
2. Virgil in Tacoma wrote:

A brilliant arguer. Although, a conservative I always took his positions very seriously. He was an example of how debate should occur.

February 27, 2:11 pm | [comment link]
3. Chris wrote:

from (some) of the people who knew him well:

February 27, 2:17 pm | [comment link]
4. Nikolaus wrote:

FWIW, I recall hearing that when the Catholic Church first began to translate the Mass into English, he urged them to draw heavily from the Book of Common Prayer.  Indeed, may he rest in peace!

February 27, 2:27 pm | [comment link]
5. Katherine wrote:

A great writer and publisher, and a devoted Christian.  May he rest in peace and rise in glory.

February 27, 2:38 pm | [comment link]
6. Chris Hathaway wrote:

For me he was the C.S. Lewis of political thought.

February 27, 2:41 pm | [comment link]
7. Oldman wrote:

Bill Buckley and I were in the same class, but he at Yale and I at Cornell. His first major work, “God and Man at Yale,” stirred the academic world like hitting a hornet’s nest. I found his book very accurate about Cornell as well as his university, Yale. From that effort forward, he was a bright light shining for the conservative view. He was always learned and never strident, which drove modern academics wild.
God Give him Heavenly rest!

February 27, 2:48 pm | [comment link]
8. William P. Sulik wrote:

Few people were ever as influential. 

As Virgil, #2, indicated - even if you disagreed with him he was usually polite and gentlemanly.

Civil society will miss his voice and example.

February 27, 2:49 pm | [comment link]
9. Pb wrote:

I will never forget his debate with Bp. Spong. His summary of Spong’s beliefs was one for the ages.

February 27, 3:06 pm | [comment link]
10. Nikolaus wrote:

Pb, is a transcript of that debate available?

February 27, 3:17 pm | [comment link]
11. William P. Sulik wrote:

Pb, is a transcript of that debate available?

Many of the Firing Line shows are available in some form or another at Stanford’s Hoover Institution - this one is not:


I note there is a request form which allows one to ask for it…

February 27, 3:43 pm | [comment link]
12. Mike Watson wrote:

There was another Firing Line episode featuring Bp. Spong, this time along with Bishop Wantland and William Oddie, entitled “Anglican Priestpersons,” which coincidentally was broadcast 21 years ago today. It, too, is not available currently.


February 27, 4:28 pm | [comment link]
13. celtichorse wrote:

Once again he’s Airborne, only this wind gave him breath and now takes him home to a far country.

February 27, 4:53 pm | [comment link]
14. William P. Sulik wrote:

Great line from WFB:

“The attempted assassination of Sukarno last week had all the earmarks of a CIA operation.  Everyone in the room was killed except Sukarno.”

February 27, 5:38 pm | [comment link]
15. James Manley wrote:

I requested both.  A few more requests might get them released.

February 27, 6:58 pm | [comment link]
16. Wilfred wrote:

William F. Buckley was of course a Roman Catholic, but his wife Pat was an Episcopalian.  At least, she was most of her life.  I don’t know whether she remained so till the end.  When she died last year, he wrote a moving essay, in which he said the thought of seeing her again in Heaven was the only thing that made living on Earth now bearable for him.  When I read that, I figured he wouldn’t be around too much longer himself.

Mr Buckley loved Truth and Beauty, and for this reason saw the 1979 revision of the Episcopal prayer-book as an act of liturgical vandalism.  I still remember his comment at the time:

“Father forgive them not, for they know what they do.”

Lest any think his comment too harsh, consider: he said it with that sly grin of his.  Eternal Memory!

February 27, 7:23 pm | [comment link]
17. BCP28 wrote:

Buckley was entertaining and engaging, even when one diagreed vehemently with him.  He was given much and made much of it, and that is to his credit.

I read National Review regularly in my college days (the early ‘90’s).  While I have gravitated towards a more activist philosophy and find Buckley’s defense of segregation difficult to reconcile with what was clearly a generous and thoughtful man, I will miss him.


February 28, 1:09 am | [comment link]
18. Pb wrote:

When Yale had the nerve to ask him to head up their fund raising, he wrote back that he had changed his mind and now agreed with them that government was more efficient than private enterprise. He suggested that Yale deed itself to the state.

February 28, 11:23 am | [comment link]
19. Chris Hathaway wrote:

Randall, I am unaware of any defense WFB ever made of segregation, and I have been reading him since the early 80s. What do you recall him arguing, and when?

February 28, 12:08 pm | [comment link]
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