Politics & Policy

A Personal Retrospective

NR and its founder.

EDITOR’S NOTE:

This article appears in the August 9, 2004, issue of National Review.

What follows is a loose assortment of published and broadcast commentary on the retirement of WFB, who, on June 29, turned his voting stock in National Review, Inc., over to a not-for-profit corporation. Ed Capano is publisher and CEO, Thomas Rhodes is board chairman, and I am editor. I begin this self-imposed (but nevertheless welcome) assignment by reproducing the note from WFB which accompanied the bulky material on the theme of his retirement and of National Review’s history, from which I have put this feature together. It reads, “Rich: If you think this is bad, imagine what you’ll have to go through when I die! Best, Bill.”

I begin by excerpting a few words from my own improvised tribute on June 29 at Paone’s restaurant. Other speakers at the dinner included Priscilla Buckley (who brought down the house with her reminiscences), Ed Capano, Dusty Rhodes, and Dan Oliver.

“I myself,” I said, “discovered NR through Firing Line. I spent a good part of my high school years watching it obsessively and rewinding at certain points to make sure I’d followed the argument. But when I picked up a copy of NR, it was a revelation, as it has been for so many people.

“I knew as soon as I read it that I wanted to work for this magazine, and it has been a great blessing, made possible by Bill Buckley and John O’Sullivan, to be associated with NR.

“As we all know, it is impossible to exaggerate Bill Buckley’s influence in forging a movement that changed the nation. For those of us who had a chance to work closely with him, just as important have been the smaller things, the advice, the good humor, the innumerable acts of kindness that all added up to a model of graciousness and thoughtfulness.

“I, in particular, have benefited from Bill’s patience, especially during the inevitable snafus. As when I had to inform him that I had scheduled an article titled ‘Bomb Canada’ in the same issue Scott Budd, after months of effort, had gotten us an ad from the U.S.-Canada Friendship Council…

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