William F. Buckley Jr., who marshaled polysyllabic exuberance, famously arched eyebrows and a refined, perspicacious mind to elevate conservatism to the center of American political discourse, died Wednesday at his home in Stamford, Conn....Lots of commentary at the National Review blog, The Corner.
Mr. Buckley’s winningly capricious personality, replete with ten-dollar words and a darting tongue writers loved to compare with an anteater’s, hosted one of television’s longest-running programs, “Firing Line,” and founded and shepherded the influential conservative magazine, National Review.....
The liberal advance had begun with the New Deal, and so accelerated in the next generation that Lionel Trilling, one of America’s leading intellectuals, wrote in 1950: “In the United States at this time liberalism is not only the dominant but even the sole intellectual tradition. For it is the plain fact that there are no conservative or reactionary ideas in general circulation.”
Mr. Buckley declared war on this liberal order, beginning with his blistering assault on Yale as a traitorous den of atheistic collectivism immediately after his graduation (with honors) from the university.
“All great biblical stories begin with Genesis,” George Will wrote in the National Review in 1980. “And before there was Ronald Reagan, there was Barry Goldwater, and before there was Barry Goldwater there was National Review, and before there was National Review there was Bill Buckley with a spark in his mind, and the spark in 1980 has become a conflagration.”
I remember watching Buckley on "Firing Line" in the 1960s, before I went to college and learned that he was to be considered poison. What a great character with a great talk show. I should try to find some old video clips and add them to this post.
ADDED: Here he is interviewing Noam Chomsky in 1969: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5. Now that's television!
AND: More video. What election commentary was like in 1969: "And yet always there is a strange seriousness, something in the system that warns us, warns us that America had better strike out on a different course, rather than face another 4 years of asphixiation by liberal premises.... No, Nixon won't bring paradise, but he could bring a little more air to breathe."