Alexa

Author, conservative commentator William F. Buckley Jr. dies at 82

Author, conservative commentator William F. Buckley Jr. dies at 82

William F. Buckley Jr., the erudite commentator and conservative herald who showered scornful words on liberalism as he observed, abetted and cheered on the right's post-World War II rise from the fringes to the White House, has died. He was 82.
His assistant Linda Bridges said Buckley was found dead by his cook Wednesday at his home in Stamford, Connecticut. The cause of death was unknown, but he had been ill with emphysema, she said.
Editor, columnist, novelist, debater, TV talk show star of "Firing Line," harpsichordist, transoceanic sailor and even a good-natured loser in a New York mayor's race, Buckley worked at a daunting pace, taking as little as 20 minutes to write a column for his magazine, the National Review.
Yet on the platform he was all handsome, reptilian languor, slowly flexing his imposing vocabulary.
"I am, I fully grant, a phenomenon, but not because of any speed in composition," he wrote in The New York Times Book Review in 1986. "I asked myself the other day, `Who else, on so many issues, has been so right so much of the time?' I couldn't think of anyone."
President George W. Bush called Buckley a great political thinker, wit, author and leader. "He influenced a lot of people, including me," the president said. "He captured the imagination of a lot of people."
But Buckley was also willing to criticize his own and made no secret of his distaste for at least some of Bush's policies. In a 2006 interview with CBS, he called the Iraq war a failure.
"If you had a European prime minister who experienced what we've experienced, it would be expected that he would retire or resign," Buckley said at the time. Buckley had for years been withdrawing from public life. In 1990 he stepped down as top editor of the National Review, and in 1999, he closed down his TV show "Firing Line" after a 23-year run, when guests ranged from Richard Nixon to Allen Ginsberg. "You've got to end sometime and I'd just as soon not die onstage," he told the audience.
"For people of my generation, Bill Buckley was pretty much the first intelligent, witty, well-educated conservative one saw on television," fellow conservative William Kristol, editor of the Weekly Standard, said at the time the show ended. "He legitimized conservatism as an intellectual movement and therefore as a political movement."
Fifty years earlier, few could have imagined such a triumph. Conservatives had been marginalized by a generation of discredited stands _ from opposing President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's New Deal to help the U.S. recover from the Great Depression to the isolationism which preceded the U.S. entry into World War II.
Buckley founded the biweekly magazine National Review in 1955, declaring that he proposed to stand "athwart history, yelling `Stop' at a time when no one is inclined to do so, or to have much patience with those who urge it." With his dynamic persona he helped revive conservative ideology, especially unbending anti-Communism and free market economics.
Although it perpetually lost money, the National Review built its circulation from 16,000 in 1957 to 155,000 when Buckley relinquished control in 2004, citing concerns about his mortality. Over the years the National Review attracted numerous young writers, some who remained conservative (George Will, David Brooks), and some who did not (Joan Didion, Garry Wills).
"I was very fond of him," Didion said Wednesday. "Everyone was, even if they didn't agree with him."
Born Nov. 24, 1925, in New York City, William Frank Buckley Jr. was the sixth of 10 children of a multimillionaire with oil holdings in seven countries. He spent his early childhood in France and England, in exclusive Roman Catholic schools.
His prominent family included his brother James, who became a one-term senator from New York in the 1970s; his socialite wife, Pat, who died in April 2007; and their son, Christopher, a noted author and satirist ("Thank You for Smoking").
After graduating with honors from Yale University in 1950, Buckley married Patricia Alden Austin Taylor, spent a "hedonistic summer" and then excoriated his alma mater for what he regarded as its anti-religious and collectivist leanings in "God and Man at Yale," published in 1951.
Buckley spent a year as a low-level agent for the Central Intelligence Agency in Mexico, work he later dismissed as boring.
In 1960, Buckley helped found Young Americans for Freedom, and in 1961, he was among the founders of the Conservative Party in New York. He was the party's candidate for mayor of New York in 1965, waging a campaign that was in part a lark. Asked what he would do if he won, Buckley said, "I'd demand a recount."
He wrote the first of his successful spy thrillers, "Saving the Queen," in 1976, introducing Ivy League hero Blackford Oakes. Oakes was permitted a dash of sex _ with the Queen of England, no less _ and Buckley permitted himself to take positions at odds with conservative orthodoxy. He advocated the decriminalization of marijuana, supported the treaty ceding control of the Panama Canal and came to oppose the Iraq war.
___
On the Net:
http://www.nationalreview.com/


Updated : 2021-04-17 20:18 GMT+08:00