Genius for Friendship

Murray Kempton, 1973 (AP Photo/JVB)


Someone should tell the story of this odd couple, because many today would find it hard to believe. Politics often feels like an ideological blood-sport, with pundits mercilessly bludgeoning one another to entertain the agitated masses. But while the godfather of the modern conservative movement, William F. Buckley Jr., was a happy warrior in the world of intellectual combat, he was also blessed with a genius for friendship — and he counted a handful of committed liberals as close friends: John Kenneth Galbraith, Allard Lowenstein, and, perhaps most notably, Murray Kempton.

Kempton was, in Buckley’s words, a “socialist — a sworn enemy of all anti-Communist legislation, sworn friend of militant unionism.” He was also, according to Buckley, “the finest writer in the newspaper profession,” with characteristic “wit and irony and a compassion which is sometimes unruly.” More to the point, he was “a great artist and a great friend.”

July 1, 2013    |     Volume LXV, No. 12

Books, Arts & Manners
  • Jay Winik reviews Lincoln Unbound: How an Ambitious Young Railsplitter Saved the American Dream -- And How We Can Do It Again, by Rich Lowry .
  • Charles J. Cooper reviews Saving Justice: Watergate, the Saturday Night Massacre, and Other Adventures of a Solicitor General, by Robert H. Bork.
  • Daniel Johnson reviews Flight of the Eagle: The Grand Strategies That Brought America from Colonial Dependence to World Leadership, by Conrad Black.
  • John Avlon discusses the friendship between William F. Buckley Jr. and Murray Kempton.
  • Ross Douthat reviews The Bling Ring.
The Long View  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  
Athwart  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  
Poetry  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  
Happy Warrior  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .