A conservative icon has passed. William F. Buckley was 82.
I picked up my first issue of NR in college through the conservative student journalism samizdata. Reading the magazine in public was an act of defiance. Embracing the ideas within was an act of heresy. Mr. Buckley’s Firing Line appearances vaulted him into the mainstream cultural stratosphere, but the enduring power of his written words made him an intellectual supernova. He built the Right’s communications infrastructure and laid the groundwork for the New Media. He was an engaged and engaging Renaissance man who joined conservatism and libertarianism, fought statism, and served the Lord–with trademark good humor and joie de vivre.
Rush Limbaugh is on the radio right now paying tribute and recounting how Buckley and National Review influenced his career. Radio Equalizer has more.
Mr. Buckley marshaled polysyllabic exuberance and a refined, perspicacious mind to elevate conservatism to the center of American political discourse.
National Review Online pays tribute. Kathryn Lopez reports:
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.
Ronald Reagan at NR’s 30th anniversary:
We know that the permanent things this journal stands for, if given only the slightest bit of breathing space, must and will triumph; it is this spark of life that this journal and the conservative movement have provided.
When he left Communism for the Western side, one editor of the magazine said he understood his defection to mean he was joining the losers. I can think of no better way to pay tribute to his memory — and frankly nothing he would have liked better — than to say: We can affirm here tonight that Whittaker Chambers was wrong. That civilization will triumph. That freedom is the winning side.
One final note: I think eventually the pundits and analysts are going to catch on to the enormous force and deep roots of the conservative movement. Some of them even seem to have finally realized that I actually am one and that I mean it. And when that happens, they are going to realize something not only about this journal, but about its founder and editor: that Bill Buckley is perhaps the most influential journalist and intellectual in our era — that he changed our country, indeed our century.
While I am quite certain that this is what history will say, I also know you and I would add something, because you and I remember a time of the forest primeval, a time when nightmare and danger reigned and only the knights of darkness prevailed; when conservatives seemed without a champion in the critical battle of style and content. And then, suddenly riding up through the mists, came our clipboard-bearing Galahad: ready to take on any challengers in the critical battle of point and counterpoint. And, with grace and humor and passion, to raise a standard to which patriots and lovers of freedom could repair.
Like myself, many of you have known and been grateful for Bill’s friendship — like everything else he does, he has made of that too an art form.
So, Bill, one last word to you. We thank you for your friendship. You are, of course, a great man. And so we thank you also for National Review, for setting loose so much good in the world. And, Bill — thanks, too, for all the fun.
God bless you.
Allah’s got the Buckley v. Vidal video.
The Club for Growth pays tribute:
Club for Growth President Pat Toomey released the following statement on the passing of conservative icon William F. Buckley, Jr.:
America has lost one of the great intellectual giants of the 20th century. William F. Buckley, Jr. was a renaissance man of intellectual brilliance, entertaining wit, and personal charm, but he will always be remembered first as the founder of the modern American conservative movement. He conceived it, nurtured it, grew it, and, when needed, purged it. Today the conservative movement in America is broad, strong, and vibrant—we all owe so much to the great man who began and guided it for so long. He will be sorely missed.
Do read Myron Magnet’s lovely, lovely tribute to Buckley’s “unbought grace of life.”