Friday, February 29, 2008

Remembering William F Buckley

Peggy Noonan (Reagan speech writer)

Bill Buckley lived a great American life. His heroism was very American--the individualist at work in the world, the defender of great creeds and great beliefs going forth with spirit, style and joy. May we not lose his kind. For now, "Good night, sweet prince, and flights of angels take thee to thy rest."

David Brooks (New York Times Columnist)

Buckley’s greatest talent was friendship. The historian George Nash once postulated that he wrote more personal letters than any other American, and that is entirely believable. He showered affection on his friends, and he had an endless stream of them, old and young. He took me sailing, invited me to concerts and included me at dinners with the great and the good.


His second great talent was leadership. As a young man, he had corralled the famously disputatious band of elders who made up the editorial board of National Review. He changed the personality of modern conservatism, created a national movement and expelled the crackpots from it.

Rich Lowry (National Review)

He was a beloved figure who had entered American lore and, in that sense, belonged to all of us. But in the fond reminiscences, it shouldn't be forgotten what he hated. Buckley was an anti-Communist to the marrow of his bones, whose lifelong mission was to crush Marxist totalitarianism. In this, he was uncompromising, relentless, and -- this is what makes it possible to minimize it now -- successful.


Buckley's anti-Communism had many roots. His father, an oilman who did business in a Mexico roiled by revolution, was a committed anti-Communist. And Buckley's Catholic faith made him a natural foe of atheistic Marxism. But the deepest foundation of Buckley's anti-Communism -- and his politics generally -- was a belief that the individual is paramount and can flourish only in freedom.

Rich Lowry (Part II)

When writing a column about him today, I came across this passage in a speech about gratitude that seems very appropriate:

To fail to experience gratitude when walking through the corridors of the Metropolitan Museum, when listening to the music of Bach or Beethoven, when exercising our freedom to speak or, as happened to us three weeks ago, to give, or withhold, our assent, is to fail to recognize how much we have received from the great wellsprings of human talent and concern that gave us Shakespeare, Abraham Lincoln, Mark Twain, our parents, our friends…We need a rebirth of gratitude for those who have cared for us, living and, mostly, dead. The high moments of our way of life are their gifts to us. We must remember them in our thoughts and in our prayers; and in our deeds.

Jay Nordlinger

When I met Bill, it was not like I was really meeting him. He was meeting me; but I wasn’t really meeting him. Because I knew him so well. Knew him so well through his books, all of which I had read, and through his television program, Firing Line. And he was the same, pretty much.

He was my friend long, long before I met him — one of my best friends, I’d say. He was my friend through his books. I simply drank them in, and they comforted me, educated me, thrilled me. I would tell him this frequently.

It was so, so weird — and so, so wonderful — to be able to know him. But, as I’d tell him, I always knew him.