Posted by Brad @ 12:51 pm on February 27th 2008

William F. Buckley Dead

Sad news.

Kathryn Jean Lopez:

I’m devastated to report that our dear friend, mentor, leader, and founder William F. Buckley Jr., died this morning in his study in Stamford, Connecticut.

He died while at work; if he had been given a choice on how to depart this world, I suspect that would have been exactly it. At home, still devoted to the war of ideas.

As you might expect, we’ll have much more to say here and in NR in the coming days and weeks and months. For now: Thank you, Bill. God bless you, now with your dear Pat. Our deepest condolences to Christopher and the rest of the Buckley family. And our fervent prayer that we continue to do WFB’s life’s work justice

Jonah Goldberg:

I just saw Kathryn’s post about Bill Buckley. I’m stunned. He will be greatly missed. But we should also remember this was not a life cut tragically short (no matter how much we wish he were still with us). His accomplishments were almost incalculable. As George Will once said, “before there was Ronald Reagan there was Barry Goldwater, before there was Goldwater there was National Review, and before there was National Review there was William F. Buckley.” As conservatives we are all standing on his shoulders.

Moreover, William F. Buckley’s life was marked by enormous joy. He had a lust for life as well as for letters and debate. He raised a wonderful and accomplished son, loved and was loved by, a formidable and beautiful wife, had more friends than he could count or, in a sense even know, and will be remembered for generations to come. Sadness is to be expected at times like this, and I certainly feel it. But let’s leave room for if not a celebration, than at least grateful appreciation, of a singularly remarkable life.

More here. Times obit here.

I’ve had my differences with his torch-bearers, but there’s no question that Buckley himself was one of the most thoughtful, articulate, elegant, and consistent voices in the history of American conservatism. He will be missed.

11 Comments »

  1. Shame. And now he’s gone, who will write the catty obituary for him?

    Even aside from his historical importance to American conservatism, Buckley remained a thoughtful and considered guy, far more so than a lot of the people who followed him.

    Comment by Adam — 2/27/2008 @ 12:54 pm

  2. And by ‘Times obit’, you mean ‘New York Times Obit’. There’s only one Times, damnit, even if it is now owned and ruined by Murdoch.

    Comment by Adam — 2/27/2008 @ 12:55 pm

  3. Articulate is an understatement. A loss to be sure.

    Comment by James — 2/27/2008 @ 12:56 pm

  4. As for Lopez’ comment, it seems to me that Buckley, like most people, if offered a choice on how they left the world would opine ‘not at all’. If anything will make us miss Buckley’s sharp obituaries more, the surely nauseating and sycophantic obituaries to Buckley himself, that we shall see at the Corner over the next few days, will be it.

    Comment by Adam — 2/27/2008 @ 12:57 pm

  5. “The central question that emerges…is whether the White community in the South is entitled to take such measures as are necessary to prevail, politically and culturally, in areas where it does not predominate numerically? The sobering answer is Yes—the White community is so entitled because, for the time being, it is the advanced race.”
    —William F. Buckley, National Review, August 24, 1957

    Comment by Jack — 2/27/2008 @ 2:42 pm

  6. I will remember him primarily for three things:

    1. As the man who, at a time when there was no constituency for it, stood up and forcibly flogged anti-Semitism first out into the open, and then out of the Republican Party.

    2. As the man who, running a quixotic campaign for mayor of New York City, stood up and told the racist element that would certainly have constituted an element of his core support: “Look, I don’t want your votes. Go back to your fever swamps.” Would that certain recent conservative campaigns had done likewise.

    3. As a man completely unafraid to follow the train of his thoughts wherever they might lead. Buckley was a conservative advocate of drug legalization as early as 1986, and a thorough and incisive critic of the Bush administration’s anticonservative tendencies when the rest of the right wing was still fawning obsequiously. I need to go dig up a copy of that New Republic article on the recent National Review cruise…the one where the paid participants were actually arguing Buckley had gone insane. The scorn of such troglodytes is a high compliment to Buckley.

    Comment by Rojas — 2/27/2008 @ 3:52 pm

  7. Ah. Here it is.

    Buckley is an urbane old reactionary, drunk on doubts. He founded National Review in 1955–when conservatism was viewed in polite society as a mental affliction–and he has always been skeptical of appeals to “the people,” preferring the eternal top-down certainties of Catholicism. He united with Podhoretz in mutual hatred of Godless Communism, but, slouching into his eighties, he possesses a worldview that is ill-suited for the fight to bring democracy to the Muslim world. He was a ghostly presence on the cruise at first, appearing only briefly to shake a few hands. But now he has emerged, and he is fighting.

    “Aren’t you embarrassed by the absence of these weapons?” Buckley snaps at Podhoretz. He has just explained that he supported the war reluctantly, because Dick Cheney convinced him Saddam Hussein had WMD primed to be fired. “No,” Podhoretz replies. “As I say, they were shipped to Syria. During Gulf war one, the entire Iraqi air force was hidden in the deserts in Iran.” He says he is “heartbroken” by this “rise of defeatism on the right.” He adds, apropos of nothing, “There was nobody better than Don Rumsfeld. This defeatist talk only contributes to the impression we are losing, when I think we’re winning.”

    The audience cheers Podhoretz. The nuanced doubts of Bill Buckley leave them confused. Doesn’t he sound like the liberal media? Later, over dinner, a tablemate from Denver calls Buckley “a coward.” His wife nods and says, “Buckley’s an old man,” tapping her head with her finger to suggest dementia.

    I dare imagine that he’s sailing with better shipmates now. Bon Voyage, Buck. And thanks.

    Comment by Rojas — 2/27/2008 @ 4:01 pm

  8. In fact…hell, why not? He wouldn’t have approved or enjoyed it, but funerals are for the benefit of the living…

    Comment by Rojas — 2/27/2008 @ 4:08 pm

  9. I’m still alive and I shan’t forgive.

    Comment by Adam — 2/27/2008 @ 5:12 pm

  10. Never let Chris Buckley give a eulogy.
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/04/23/AR2009042304739_pf.html

    Comment by thimbles — 5/6/2009 @ 10:02 pm

  11. Sounds like a truly phenomenal and ruthlessly honest book. I’ll look forward to it.

    Whatever is wrong with the Republican party, it is not a surfeit of people like Chris Buckley. Nor like WFB, for that matter. Both are treasures in remarkably different ways.

    Comment by Rojas — 5/6/2009 @ 11:39 pm

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