Bill Buckley Made It Okay to Be a Conservative
William F. Buckley connected the dots for me back when I was a liberal college student trying to make sense of things.
Punch drunk from the Vietnam War and the excesses of the drug-addled Sixties and
He played a key role in paving the way for the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980, which was startling evidence of
Like many, I owe him a personal debt for his instrumental role in what the Left would call “raising my consciousness.” I was a conservative as a kid, but fell under the sway of liberal profs and the New Age culture. But Buckley was a key force in pulling me back to reality.
At times, he seemed to be the only sane voice on television, especially on his Firing Line program on PBS, and he had no problem being identified as a “conservative.”
He was so boldly unapologetic about the labeling that I began to identify as a conservative, too. I cheered as he skewered his opponents with good humor and ginormous vocabulary (yes, it's an official word, now).
When a conservative neighbor learned that I was open to views other than the liberal mush on TV and on college campuses, he gave me a huge stack of National Reviews. It was a light clicking on in a dark room. “Yes!” “Yes!” I'd say to no one in particular while reading Buckley's essays.
I met the great man at a gathering of conservatives and libertarians in
Anyway, I shook Mr. Buckley's hand and told him that he had cost me a job. He was genuinely horrified, and I explained the situation. He kept shaking his head and saying “No!” and “Terrible!” as his handlers swept him off to his next encounter. It was one of the few times I recall seeing him at a loss for words.
The next time I saw him it was as part of his team on a Firing Line segment that we taped at
Mr. Buckley's team, which argued for the affirmative, consisted of Catholic League President Bill Donohue,
In his opening salvo, Mr. Buckley spoke for all of us when he summarized the problem with the ACLU:
“With its $35 million budget, its 60 full-time attorneys, 600 yearly lawsuits, its 2,000 legal volunteers, it is everywhere. The school that said that boys couldn't come in wearing sagging trousers that revealed their underwear faced a lawsuit from the ACLU….Babies can't be tested for HIV, the
Matter of fact. No malice. On the money. Grounded in example. With warmth and devastating logic. Even at liberal
He'll be missed more than he could have known.