The Talking Dog

February 28, 2008, R.I.P. William F. Buckley

Conservative icon William F. Buckley passed away at 82. Author of numerous mediocre novels, lots of non-fictions and decades worth of regular columns, founder of the National Review, and host of the long, long, long time t.v. staple "Firing Line" (one of TD's all time fave shows, btw) Buckley did what (IMHO) virtually no other conservative managed to do. With his perpetual Locust Valley Lockjaw (or perhaps an accent worthy of the "Aryan from Darien", although Buckley was Catholic from nearby Sharon, CT), Buckley came off as both smart and amusing, not to mention perpetually affable . Would, say, our current President (and Buckley's fellow Yale alum) come off as any of those three, let alone all of them.

Which is the point, is it not? He put a happy face on what, let's face it, is ostensibly a hateful movement largely powered thanks to the support of racists. Don't get me wrong: there is, for example, much interesting stuff going on over at the National Review, or its online version, a staple of our sidebar here. But then again, there were and are Jonah Goldberg legacy s***head hires over there too (such as... Jonah Goldberg!) spouting the sort of tripe that hints at what is so problematic about Buckley's movement ... while Buckley himself had some degree of intellectual integrity, much of his movement... simply doesn't.

As a historical matter, for example, Buckley settled first on Barry Goldwater in the 60's, a "live free or die" guy based in the "rugged individualist" West (just so long as those liberal faggots from New York sent along massive taxpayer funded subsidies for federal water projects, of course, eh?), and later, he settled on America's ultimate used car salesman, St. Ronald of Santa Barbara (who liked big government as much as anyone, just so long as it wasn't paid for).

Don't get me wrong; I always liked Buckley (hey, I liked Reagan too... used car salesmen are often likeable!). See above. Frankly, to quote Normal Mailer cited in the Grey Lady's obit:

“No other act can project simultaneous hints that he is in the act of playing Commodore of the Yacht Club, Joseph Goebbels, Robert Mitchum, Maverick, Savonarola, the nice prep school kid next door and the snows of yesteryear,” Mr. Mailer said in an interview with Harper’s Magazine in 1967.

How could one not like such an act [except for the Goebbels part, I guess; see above]? R.I.P., Mr. Buckley. And given how frenetic Mr. Buckley's life had been, rest indeed.