Politics & Policy

Simply Superlative

Words for Buckley.

Consider the statistics. During his nearly 60 years in the public eye, William F. Buckley Jr. published 55 books (both fiction and nonfiction); dozens of book reviews; at least 56 introductions, prefaces, and forewords to other peoples’ books; more than 225 obituary essays; more than 800 editorials, articles, and remarks in National Review; several hundred articles in periodicals other than National Review; and approximately 5,600 newspaper columns. He gave hundreds of lectures around the world, hosted 1,429 separate Firing Line shows, and may well have composed more letters than any American who has ever lived.

#ad#He seemed to be the embodiment of Anthony Trollope’s aphorism: “There is no greater human bliss than twelve hours of work, and only six hours in which to do it.”

William F. Buckley Jr. was arguably the most important public intellectual in the United States in the past half century. For an entire generation he was the preeminent voice of American conservatism and its first great ecumenical figure. He changed minds, he changed lives, and he helped to change the direction of American politics.

He did all this with singular flair and joie de vivre. Moreover, he did it with a welcoming spirit which earned the gratitude of those whose lives he touched. In my own case, I recall the first time I met him, in 1971. I was then a graduate student embarking on a doctoral dissertation about American conservatism. I wrote to him asking for an interview about his career and hoped that he might favor me with an hour at his office in New York. Instead, he telephoned me and invited me to lunch with him four days later — the day after Thanksgiving — at his home in Stamford, Connecticut. I ended up having several unforgettable hours in his company — and a terrific interview. It was the first of many instances of his generosity and encouragement of my work.

He gave us his words — and his ideas and his example — and now, in words, we reciprocate. What memories we conservatives have and what a legacy to treasure. But even superlatives cannot do full justice to the life and achievements of our friend and paladin, Bill Buckley.

– George H. Nash is author of The Conservative Intellectual Movement in America.

Most Popular

Law & the Courts

Obstruction Confusions

In his Lawfare critique of one of my several columns about the purported obstruction case against President Trump, Gabriel Schoenfeld loses me — as I suspect he will lose others — when he says of himself, “I do not think I am Trump-deranged.” Gabe graciously expresses fondness for me, and the feeling is ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Students’ Anti-Gun Views

Are children innocents or are they leaders? Are teenagers fully autonomous decision-makers, or are they lumps of mental clay, still being molded by unfolding brain development? The Left seems to have a particularly hard time deciding these days. Take, for example, the high-school students from Parkland, ... Read More
PC Culture

Kill Chic

We live in a society in which gratuitous violence is the trademark of video games, movies, and popular music. Kill this, shoot that in repugnant detail becomes a race to the visual and spoken bottom. We have gone from Sam Peckinpah’s realistic portrayal of violent death to a gory ritual of metal ripping ... Read More
Elections

Romney Is a Misfit for America

Mitt’s back. The former governor of Massachusetts and occasional native son of Michigan has a new persona: Mr. Utah. He’s going to bring Utah conservatism to the whole Republican party and to the country at large. Wholesome, efficient, industrious, faithful. “Utah has a lot to teach the politicians in ... Read More
Law & the Courts

What the Second Amendment Means Today

The horrifying school massacre in Parkland, Fla., has prompted another national debate about guns. Unfortunately, it seems that these conversations are never terribly constructive — they are too often dominated by screeching extremists on both sides of the aisle and armchair pundits who offer sweeping opinions ... Read More
U.S.

Fire the FBI Chief

American government is supposed to look and sound like George Washington. What it actually looks and sounds like is Henry Hill from Goodfellas: bad suit, hand out, intoning the eternal mantra: “F*** you, pay me.” American government mostly works by interposition, standing between us, the free people at ... Read More