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The Straggler

Dinner with the Buckleys

by John Derbyshire

For some time I had wanted to meet James Buckley, fourth of the ten in his generation. (Bill Buckley was sixth.) This man had an extraordinary career. He served at a high level in all three branches of the federal government: as a U.S. senator, as an under secretary of state, and as a federal appeals-court judge. Somewhere along the way he also had careers in private law, business, and the military. James Buckley is one of those people who leave most of the rest of us feeling we have frittered our lives away to not much purpose.

His 2006 book, Gleanings from an Unplanned Life, gives a clear and attractive picture of the man, seasoned with solid conservative good sense: “I believe . . . that there is only one road to true reform, and that is to rediscover and reapply the principles of federalism and, in that way, reduce the scope of federal responsibilities to manageable size.”

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