Friday, February 29, 2008

William F. Buckley, Jr.: A Life Well Lived

The impact of the man has not yet been fully realized.

WFB jump started the conservative movement in America. He was behind Barry Goldwater's candidacy. Ronald Reagan owed much of his intellectual understanding of conservatism to Buckley.

The extent to which WFB was a true original has not yet been fully realized. He fought in WWII. He sailed into international waters so he could try marijuana without breaking any laws. He was hilarious. He was surprising.

God and Man at Yale, 1951:
I believe that the duel between Christianity and atheism is the most important in the world. I further believe that that the struggle between individualism and collectivism is the same struggle reproduced on another level.

Editorial, National Review, 1957:
The attempted assassination of Sukarno last week had all the earmarks of a CIA operation. Everyone in the room was killed except Sukarno.

-- Address in New York, after Khrushchev was invited to speak at the U.N., 1960:
We deem it the central revelation of Western experience that man cannot ineradicably stain himself, for the wells of regeneration are infinitely deep. . . . Khrushchev cannot take permanent advantage of our temporary disadvantage, for it is the West he is fighting. And in the West there lie, however encysted, the ultimate resources, which are moral in nature. . . . Even out the depths of despair, we take heart in the knowledge that it cannot matter how deep we fall, for there is always hope. In the end, we will bury him.
I read the above, and I suspect Buckley was a source of Reagan's conviction and confidence that the Soviet Union must be defeated. Reagan believed the USSR must and would be defeated when almost no other world leaders believed it. Reagan believed it when few American leaders believed it; and when Jimmy Carter was making speeches about how the USSR was not really a threat to the world, and about how the U.S. and the USSR needed to co-exist in partnership.

Address at the Yale Political Union, 2006:
Despair is inappropriate for a culture as buoyant as our own.

Ann Coulter:
Some of Buckley's best lines were uttered in court during a lengthy libel trial in the '80s against [William F. Buckley's] National Review brought by the Liberty Lobby, which was then countersued by National Review. (The Liberty Lobby lost and NR won.)

Irritated by attorney Mark Lane's questions, Buckley asked the judge: "Your Honor, when he asks a ludicrous question, how am I supposed to behave?"

In response to another of Lane's questions, Buckley said: "I decline to answer that question; it's too stupid."

When asked if he had "referred to Jesse Jackson as an ignoramus," Buckley said, "If I didn't, I should have."

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