Magazine December 17, 2020, Issue

The Story of James L. Buckley’s Historic Senate Victory

James L. Buckley claims victory in his race to represent New York for the U.S. Senate, 1970. (Bettmann/Contributor/Getty Images)
Retold on its golden anniversary

If only James Lane Buckley had been wearing loafers that day, his life might have turned out quite differently.

But he wasn’t. The year was 1968, the place was Libya, and the corporate lawyer was on the cusp of making political history. 

Only he didn’t know it.

About the shoes: They had laces. And when Jim Buckley — preparing to meet with a government minister on behalf of Catawba Corporation, his family’s oil-exploration company — bent over to tie them, a disc ruptured. To an American military hospital the injured corporate counsel went, forced to spend painful days flat on his back. The

This article appears as “Mr. Buckley Went to the Senate” in the December 17, 2020, print edition of National Review.

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