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William F. Buckley, Jr.

William F. Buckley Jr. in 1985
Born November 24, 1925(1925-11-24)
New York City, United States
Died February 27, 2008 (aged 82)
Stamford, Connecticut,
United States
Occupation Author
Television personality
Nationality American
Subjects American conservatism, Politics, Anti-communism, Espionage
Spouse(s) Patricia Taylor Buckley (died 2007)
Children Christopher Buckley (b.1952)

William Frank Buckley, Jr.[1] (November 24, 1925 – February 27, 2008) was an American conservative author[2] and commentator. He founded the political magazine National Review in 1955, hosted 1,429 episodes[3] of the television show Firing Line from 1966 until 1999, and was a nationally syndicated newspaper columnist. His writing style was famed for its erudition, wit, and use of uncommon words.[4][5]

George H. Nash, a historian of the modern American conservative movement, believed that Buckley was "arguably the most important public intellectual in the United States in the past half century". "For an entire generation he was the preeminent voice of American conservatism and its first great ecumenical figure."[6] Buckley's primary change to politics was the fusion of traditional American political conservatism with laissez-faire economic theory and anti-communism, laying the groundwork for the modern American conservatism of U.S. presidential candidates Barry Goldwater and President Ronald Reagan.

Buckley wrote first God and Man at Yale (1951); among over fifty further books on writing, speaking, history, politics and sailing, were a series of novels featuring CIA agent Blackford Oakes. Buckley referred to himself as either a libertarian or conservative.[7][8] He resided in New York City and Stamford, Connecticut. He was a practicing Roman Catholic, regularly attending the traditional Latin Mass in Connecticut.[9]


Early life

Buckley was born in New York City to lawyer and oil baron William Frank Buckley, Sr., of Irish descent, and Aloise Josephine Antonia Steiner, a native of New Orleans and of Swiss-German descent. The sixth of ten children, as a boy Buckley moved with his family from Mexico to Sharon, Connecticut before beginning his first formal schooling in Paris, where he attended first grade. By age seven, he received his first formal training in English at a day school in London; his first and second languages were Spanish and French, respectively.[10] As a boy, Buckley developed a love for music, sailing, horses, hunting, skiing, and story-telling. All of these interests would be reflected in his later writings. Just before World War II, at age 13, he attended high school at the Catholic Preparatory School St. John's Beaumont in England. During the war, his family took in the future British historian Alistair Horne as a child war evacuee. Buckley and Horne remained life-long friends. Buckley and Horne both attended the Millbrook School, in Millbrook, New York, and graduated as members of the Class of 1943. At Millbrook, Buckley founded and edited the school's yearbook, The Tamarack, his first experience in publishing. When Buckley was a young man, his father was an acquaintance of libertarian author Albert Jay Nock. William F. Buckley, Sr., encouraged his son to read Nock's works.

In his younger years, Buckley developed many musical talents; he played the harpsichord very well—later calling it "the instrument I love beyond all others".[11] He was an accomplished pianist and appeared once on Marian McPartland's National Public Radio show "Piano Jazz".[12] A great fan of Johann Sebastian Bach,[11] Buckley said that he wanted Bach's music played at his funeral.[13]

Marriage and family

In 1950, Buckley married Patricia Aldyen Austin "Pat" Taylor (1926–2007), daughter of industrialist Austin C. Taylor. He met Pat, a Protestant from Vancouver, British Columbia, while she was a student at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York. She later became a prominent charity fundraiser for such organizations as the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, the Institute of Reconstructive Plastic Surgery at New York University Medical Center and the Hospital for Special Surgery. She also raised money for Vietnam War veterans and AIDS patients. On April 15, 2007, she died of an infection after a long illness at age 80.[14] After her death, Buckley's friend, Christopher Little, said Buckley "seemed dejected and rudderless".[15]

The couple had one son, author Christopher Buckley. He is married to Lucy Gregg Buckley with whom he has two children, and has a child with former Random House publicist Irina Woelfle.

William F. Buckley Jr. had nine siblings, including sister Maureen Buckley-O'Reilly (1933–1964) who married Gerald A. O'Reilly, the CEO of Richardson-Vicks (makers of Vicks Vapo-Rub); sister Priscilla L. Buckley, author of Living It Up With National Review: A Memoir, for which William wrote the foreword; sister Patricia Buckley Bozell, who was Patricia Taylor's roommate at Vassar before each married; brother Fergus Reid Buckley, an author, debate-master, and founder of the Buckley School of Public Speaking; and brother James L. Buckley, a former judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, and a former U.S. Senator from New York.[citation needed] William and James appeared together on Firing Line. Buckley co-authored a book, McCarthy and His Enemies, with his brother-in-law, attorney L. Brent Bozell, Jr., (Patricia's husband), who worked with Buckley at The American Mercury in the early 1950s when it was owned by Clendenin Ryan, Jr.[citation needed]; and Sister Aloise Buckley Heath, Writer and conservative activist.


Buckley was raised a Catholic, describing it by saying, "I grew up, as reported, in a large family of Catholics without even a decent ration of tentativeness among the lot of us about our religious faith.[16]" As a child, he attended St. John's, Beaumont, a boarding school in Old Windsor, for a time before the outbreak of World War II. Later, he attended Millbrook, a Protestant school, but was permitted to attend Catholic mass at a nearby church. As a youth, he became aware of Anti-Catholicism in the United States, particularly American Freedom and Catholic Power, a Paul Blanchard book that accused American Catholics of having 'divided loyalties.'

The release of his first book, God and Man at Yale, was met with some specific criticism pertaining to his Catholicism. McGeorge Bundy, then-dean of Harvard, wrote in the Atlantic, " seems strange for any Roman Catholic to undertake to speak for the Yale religious tradition." Henry Sloan Coffin, a Yale trustee, accused Buckley's book of being, "distorted by his Roman Catholic point of view....he should have attended Fordham or some similar institution."[17]

In the 1980s, he initially agreed to write a book for a planned publishing series, entitled "Why I am a Catholic", having disagreed with the original suggested title, "Why I am still a Catholic." He subsequently abandoned the project, later returning to the idea of writing a book on his faith, which he entitled Nearer, My God, a shortened form of the 19th century hymn Nearer, My God, to Thee. The book was published in 1997. In it, Buckley condemned what he viewed as "the Supreme Court's war against religion in the public school", and argued that Christian faith was being replaced by, "another is multiculturalism.[18]" As an adult, Buckley regularly attended the traditional Latin Mass in Connecticut.[9] He disapproved of the liturgical reforms following the Vatican II Council.[19]

Education, military service and the CIA

Buckley attended the National Autonomous University of Mexico (or UNAM) in 1943. The following year upon his graduation from the U.S. Army Officer Candidate School, he was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army. In his book, Miles Gone By, he briefly recounts being a member of Franklin Roosevelt's honor guard when the president died.

With the end of World War II in 1945, he enrolled in Yale University, where he became a member of the secret Skull and Bones society,[20][21] was a debater,[21] an active member of the Conservative Party and of the Yale Political Union, and served as Chairman of the Yale Daily News. Buckley studied political science, history and economics at Yale, graduating with honors in 1950.[21] He excelled as the captain of the Yale Debate Team, and under the tutelage of Yale professor Rollin G. Osterweis, Buckley honed his acerbic style.

In 1951, like some of his classmates in the Ivy League, Buckley was recruited into the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA); he served for two years including one year in Mexico City working as a political action specialist in the elite Special Activities Division for a legendary officer named E. Howard Hunt.[22] These two officers remained lifelong friends.[23] In a November 1, 2005, column for National Review, Buckley recounted that while he worked for the CIA, the only employee of the organization that he knew was his immediate boss E. Howard Hunt. While in Mexico, Buckley edited The Road to Yenan, a book by Peruvian author Eudocio Ravines.


First books

Buckley (right) and L. Brent Bozell Jr. promote their book McCarthy and His Enemies, 1954

In 1951, the same year he was recruited into the CIA, Buckley's first book, God and Man at Yale, was published. The book was written in Hamden, Connecticut, where William and Pat Buckley had settled as newlyweds. A critique of Yale University, the work argues that the school had strayed from its original educational mission. The next year, he made some telling concessions in an article for Commonweal, insisting that Big Government and a large U.S. military might be a necessity for the duration of the Cold War.[24] William F. Buckley, Jr. was referenced in the novel, The Manchurian Candidate, by Richard Condon in 1959 as "...that fascinating young man who wrote about man and God at Yale." In 1954, Buckley co-wrote a book McCarthy and His Enemies with his brother-in-law, L. Brent Bozell Jr., strongly defending Senator Joseph McCarthy as a patriotic crusader against communism.

National Review, Young Americans for Freedom and Barry Goldwater

Buckley worked as an editor for The American Mercury in 1951 and 1952, but left after perceiving anti-Semitic tendencies in the magazine.[25] He then founded National Review in 1955, serving as editor-in-chief until 1990.[26][27] During that time, National Review became the standard-bearer of American conservatism, promoting the fusion of traditional conservatives and libertarians. Buckley was a defender of McCarthyism. In McCarthy and his Enemies he asserted that " a movement around which men of good will and stern morality can close ranks."[28]

According to Buckley, when he first met philosopher Ayn Rand through mutual friends, she greeted him with the following: "You are much too intelligent to believe in God."[29] In 1957, Buckley published Whittaker Chambers's review of Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged[30], ostensibly "reading her out of the conservative movement".[31] Objectivists have accused Chambers of merely skimming the novel.[32] Buckley said that Rand never forgave him for publishing the review and that "for the rest of her life, she would walk theatrically out of any room I entered!"[10]

Also in 1957, Buckley came out in support of the segregationist South, famously[33] writing that "the central question that emerges... is whether the White community in the South is entitled to take such measures as are necessary to prevail, politically and culturally, in areas where it does not predominate numerically? The sobering answer is Yes – the White community is so entitled because, for the time being, it is the advanced race."[34] In 2004, he clarified the statement, saying, "the point I made about white cultural supremacy was sociological and linking his usage of the word "Advancement" to its usage in the name NAACP, continuing, "The call for the 'advancement' of colored people presupposes they are behind. Which they were, in 1958, by any standards of measurement."[33] Buckley changed his views and by the mid-1960s renounced racism. This change was caused in part because of his reaction to the tactics used by white supremacists against the civil rights movement, and in part because of the influence of friends like Garry Wills, who confronted Buckley on the morality of his politics.[35]

By the late 1960s, Buckley disagreed strenuously with segregationist George Wallace, and Buckley later said it was a mistake for National Review to have opposed the civil rights legislation of 1964–65. He later grew to admire Martin Luther King, Jr. and supported creation of a national holiday for him.[36] During the 1950s, Buckley had worked to remove anti-Semitism from the conservative movement and barred holders of those views from working for National Review.[36]

In 1960, Buckley helped form Young Americans for Freedom and in 1964 he strongly supported the candidacy of Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater, first for the Republican nomination against New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller and then for the Presidency. Buckley used National Review as a forum for mobilizing support for Goldwater.

In 1962, Buckley denounced Robert W. Welch, Jr., and the John Birch Society, in National Review, as "far removed from common sense" and urged the GOP to purge itself of Mr. Welch's influence.[37]

On The Right

Buckley's column On The Right was syndicated by Universal Press Syndicate beginning in 1962. From the early 1970s, his twice-weekly column was distributed to more than 320 newspapers across the country. In the early 1960s, at Sharon, Connecticut, Buckley founded the conservative political youth group, "Young Americans for Freedom" (YAF). Young Americans for Freedom was guided by principles Buckley called, "The Sharon Statement". The successful campaign of his elder brother Jim Buckley's to capture the U.S. Senate seat from New York State held by incumbent Republican Charles Goodell on the Conservative Party ticket in 1970 was due, in large part, to the activist support of the New York State chapter of Y.A.F.[citation needed] A Congressman representing New York's old 43rd Congressional District, Goodell had been appointed to the Senate by Barry Goldwater's arch-nemesis Nelson Rockefeller, the liberal Republican Governor of New York, to fill the seat vacated by the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy, a Democrat. In the Senate, Goodell had moved to the left and thus incurred the enmity of conservatives in the New York State Republican Party, who threw in their lot with Jim Buckley. Buckley served one term in the Senate, then was defeated by Democrat Daniel Patrick Moynihan in 1976. (Goodell's son Roger is the commissioner of the National Football League.)

Mayoral candidacy

In 1965, Buckley ran for mayor of New York City as the candidate for the young Conservative Party. He ran to take votes away from the very liberal Republican candidate and fellow Yale alumnus John Lindsay, who later became a Democrat. Buckley did not expect to win (when asked what he would do if he won the race Buckley responded, "Demand a recount."[38]) and used an unusual campaign style; during one televised debate with Lindsay, Buckley declined to use his allotted rebuttal time and instead replied, "I am satisfied to sit back and contemplate my own former eloquence."

To relieve traffic congestion, Buckley proposed charging cars a fee to enter the central city, and a network of bike lanes. He also opposed a civilian review board for the New York Police Department, which Lindsay had recently introduced to control police corruption and install community policing.[39] Buckley finished third with 13.4% of the vote, possibly having inadvertently aided Lindsay's election by instead taking votes from Democratic candidate Abe Beame.[38]

Buckley was not the first member of his family to run for a big-city mayoral position. His cousin Elliot Ross Buckley ran in 1962 as the Republican candidate for mayor of New Orleans but was easily defeated by the Democrat Victor Schiro.

Firing Line

Buckley with President Ronald Reagan at Reagan's birthday celebration, 1986
Buckley with Reagan in the Oval Office, 1988

For many Americans, Buckley's erudition on his weekly PBS show Firing Line (1966–1999) was their primary exposure to him. In it he displayed a scholarly, and humorous conservatism and was known for his facial expressions, gestures and probing questions of his guests.

Throughout his career as a media figure, Buckley had received much criticism, largely from the American left but also from certain factions on the right, such as the John Birch Society and its second president, Larry McDonald, as well as from Objectivists.[40]

Feud with Gore Vidal

Buckley appeared in a series of televised debates with Gore Vidal during the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago. In their penultimate debate on August 28 of that year, the two disagreed over the actions of the city police and the protesters at the ongoing convention. After Buckley responded to Vidal's argument by stating that Vidal's position was "so naive" and saying of the protesters "some people were pro-Nazi", Vidal called Buckley a "crypto-Nazi", to which Buckley replied, "Now listen, you queer, stop calling me a crypto-Nazi or I will sock you in your goddamn face, and you will stay plastered."[41]

This feud continued the following year in the pages of Esquire, which commissioned essays from both Buckley and Vidal on the television incident. Buckley's essay "On Experiencing Gore Vidal", was published in the August 1969 issue, and led Vidal to sue for libel. The court threw out Vidal's case.[42] Vidal's September essay in reply[43], "A Distasteful Encounter with William F. Buckley", was similarly litigated by Buckley. In it Vidal strongly implied that, in 1944, Buckley and unnamed siblings had vandalized a Protestant church in their Sharon, Connecticut, hometown after the pastor's wife had sold a house to a Jewish family. Buckley sued Vidal and Esquire for libel; Vidal counter-claimed for libel against Buckley, citing Buckley's characterization of Vidal's novel Myra Breckenridge as pornography. Both cases were dropped, with Buckley settling for court costs paid by Vidal, while Vidal absorbed his own court costs. Buckley also received an editorial apology in the pages of Esquire as part of the settlement.[42][44]

The feud was reopened in 2003 when Esquire re-published the original Vidal essay, at which time further legal action resulted in Buckley being compensated both personally and for his legal fees, along with an editorial notice and apology in the pages of Esquire, again.

Buckley maintained a philosophical antipathy towards Vidal's other bête noire, Norman Mailer, calling him "almost unique in his search for notoriety and absolutely unequalled in his co-existence with it".[45] After Mailer's 2007 death, however, Buckley wrote warmly about their personal acquaintance.

United Nations delegate

In 1973, Buckley served as a delegate to the United Nations. In 1981, Buckley informed President-elect (and personal friend) Ronald Reagan that he would decline any official position offered to him. Reagan jokingly replied that that was too bad, because he had wanted to make Buckley ambassador to (then Soviet-occupied) Afghanistan. Buckley replied that he was willing to take the job but only if he were to be supplied with "10 divisions of bodyguards".[46]

Spy novelist

In 1975, in an interview in the Paris Review, Buckley recounted being inspired to write a spy novel by Frederick Forsyth's The Day of the Jackal: "...If I were to write a book of fiction, I'd like to have a whack at something of that nature."[47] He went on to explain that he was determined to avoid the moral ambiguity of Graham Greene and John le Carré. Buckley wrote the 1976 spy novel Saving the Queen, featuring Blackford Oakes as a rule-bound CIA agent; Buckley based the novel in part on his own CIA experiences. Over the next 30 years, Buckley would write another 10 novels featuring Oakes. New York Times critic Charlie Rubin wrote that the series "at its best, evokes John O'Hara in its precise sense of place amid simmering class hierarchies".[48]

Buckley was particularly concerned about the view that what the CIA and the KGB were doing was morally equivalent. As he wrote in his memoirs, "I said to Johnny Carson that to say that the CIA and the KGB engage in similar practices is the equivalent of saying that the man who pushes an old lady into the path of a hurtling bus is not to be distinguished from the man who pushes an old lady out of the path of a hurtling bus: on the grounds that, after all, in both cases someone is pushing old ladies around.[49]

Amnesty International

In the late 1960s, Buckley joined the Board of Directors of Amnesty International USA.[50] He resigned in January 1978 in protest over the organization's stance against capital punishment as expressed in its Stockholm Declaration of 1977, which he said would lead to the "inevitable sectarianization of the amnesty movement".[51]

Later career

Buckley shakes hands with President George W. Bush on October 6, 2005

Buckley participated in a live and very heated debate with scientist Carl Sagan on ABC, following the airing of The Day After, a 1983 made-for-television film about the effects of nuclear war. Sagan argued against nuclear proliferation, while Buckley, a staunch anti-communist, promoted the concept of nuclear deterrence. During the debate, Sagan discussed the concept of nuclear winter and made his famous analogy, equating the arms race to "two sworn enemies standing waist-deep in gasoline, one with three matches, the other with five".

In 1988 Buckley was instrumental in the defeat of liberal Republican Senator Lowell Weicker. Buckley organized a committee to campaign against Weicker and endorsed his Democratic opponent, Connecticut Attorney General Joseph Lieberman.[52] Lieberman defeated Weicker.

In 1991, Buckley received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President George H. W. Bush. Buckley retired as active editor of National Review in 1990,[26][27] and relinquished his controlling shares of National Review in June 2004 to a pre-selected board of trustees. The following month he published the memoir Miles Gone By. Buckley continued to write his syndicated newspaper column, as well as opinion pieces for National Review magazine and National Review Online. He remained editor-at-large at the magazine and also conducted lectures, granted occasional radio interviews[53] and made guest appearances on national television news programs.[54][55][56][57][58][59][60][61][62][63][64][65][66]

Views on modern-day conservatism

Buckley around 2000

Buckley criticized certain aspects of policy within the modern conservative movement. Of George W. Bush's presidency, he said, "If you had a European prime minister who experienced what we’ve experienced it would be expected that he would retire or resign."[67] He further said, "Bush is 'conservative', but he is not a 'Conservative', and that the president was not elected 'as a vessel of the conservative faith.'" Buckley would distinguish between so-called "lowercase c" and "Capital C" conservatives, the latter being true conservatives: fiscally conservative and socially Conservative/Libertarian or libertarian-leaning.[68][69]

Regarding the War in Iraq, Buckley stated, "The reality of the situation is that missions abroad to effect regime change in countries without a bill of rights or democratic tradition are terribly arduous." He added: "This isn't to say that the Iraq war is wrong, or that history will judge it to be wrong. But it is absolutely to say that conservatism implies a certain submission to reality; and this war has an unrealistic frank and is being conscripted by events."[70] In a February 2006 column published at National Review Online and distributed by Universal Press Syndicate, Buckley stated unequivocally that, "One cannot doubt that the American objective in Iraq has failed." Buckley has also stated that "'s important that we acknowledge in the inner councils of state that it (the war) has failed, so that we should look for opportunities to cope with that failure."[71]

According to Jeffrey Hart, writing in the The American Conservative, Buckley had a "tragic" view of the Iraq war: he "saw it as a disaster and thought that the conservative movement he had created had in effect committed intellectual suicide by failing to maintain critical distance from the Bush administration... At the end of his life, Buckley believed the movement he made had destroyed itself by supporting the war in Iraq."[72] Regarding the Iraq "surge", however, it is noted by the editors of National Review that: "Buckley initially opposed the surge, but after seeing its early success believed it deserved more time to work."[73]

Over the course of his career, Buckley's views changed on some issues, such as drug legalization, which he came to favor.[74] Though in his December 3, 2007 column, Buckley seemed to advocate banning tobacco use in America.[75] About neoconservatives, he said in 2004: "I think those I know, which is most of them, are bright, informed and idealistic, but that they simply overrate the reach of U.S. power and influence."[33][76] [77] [78]


Buckley died at his home in Stamford, Connecticut, on February 27, 2008. Initially, it was reported that he was found dead at his desk in the study. "He died with his boots on", his son Christopher Buckley said, "after a lifetime of riding pretty tall in the saddle."[15] Subsequently, however, in his 2009 book Losing Mum and Pup: A Memoir, Christopher Buckley admitted that this account was an embellishment on his part: his father had actually been found lying on the floor of his garage after suffering a fatal heart attack. At the time of his death, he had been suffering from emphysema and diabetes.[5] In a December 3, 2007 column, Buckley commented on the cause of his emphysema as being a lifelong habit of smoking tobacco, endorsing a legal ban of it.[75] Notable members of the Republican political establishment paying tribute to Buckley included President George W. Bush,[79] former Speaker of the House of Representatives Newt Gingrich, and former First Lady Nancy Reagan.[80] Bush said of Buckley, "[h]e influenced a lot of people, including me. He captured the imagination of a lot of people."[81] Gingrich added, "Bill Buckley became the indispensable intellectual advocate from whose energy, intelligence, wit, and enthusiasm the best of modern conservatism drew its inspiration and encouragement... Buckley began what led to Senator Barry Goldwater and his Conscience of a Conservative that led to the seizing of power by the conservatives from the moderate establishment within the Republican Party. From that emerged Ronald Reagan."[82] Reagan's widow, Nancy, commented, "Ronnie valued Bill's counsel throughout his political life, and after Ronnie died, Bill and Pat were there for me in so many ways."[81]

Linguistic expertise

Buckley was well known for his command of language.[83] Buckley came late to formal instruction in the English language, not learning it until he was seven years old (his first language was Spanish, learned in Mexico, and his second French, learned in Paris).[10] As a consequence, he spoke English with an idiosyncratic accent: something between an old-fashioned, upper class Mid-Atlantic accent and British Received Pronunciation.[84]

Buckley's unique linguistic style has been parodied by several actors. Impressionist David Frye included Buckley in his portfolio in the 1960s and 1970s, mastering Buckley's quirky mannerisms, such as his deliberate speech pattern, his use of pen or pencil as a prop, and his tendency to grin and open his eyes wide when making a self-satisfying verbal point.[citation needed] Dustin Hoffman modeled the voice of his character after Buckley's when he played the title role in the Robin Williams feature, Hook.[85] In the Walt Disney feature film Aladdin the Genie, voiced by Robin Williams, morphed into a parodic Buckley when describing the limitations of the three wishes. Joe Flaherty occasionally portrayed Buckley in Second City Television sketches.

In the Media

On November 1, 2009, several university students from across the United States as well as the United Kingdom founded a editorial/literary publication, which they named The New Islander, dedicated to William F. Buckley, Jr.

In addition to occasionally publishing pieces reflecting on his life's work, two of the magazine's founding editors, Paul Young and Brianne Corcoran, hinted at the publication's respect for -- and allegiance to -- his conservative political ideology.

In the magazine's opening mission statement, they wrote:

We will take a conservative stance in accordance to the fair [ideology]... of Mr. [William F.] Buckley, [Jr.]... that God-fearing sailing enthusiast from Connecticut. Let Yale never forget him.

Further reading


  1. ^ "William Francis" in the editorial obituary "Up From Liberalism" The Wall Street Journal 28 February 2008, p. A16; Martin, Douglas, "William F. Buckley Jr., 82, Dies; Sesquipedalian Spark of Right", obituary, New York Times, 28 February 2008, which reported that his parents preferred "Frank", which would make him a "Jr.", but at his christening, the priest "insisted on a saint's name, so Francis was chosen. When the younger William Buckley was 5, he asked to change his middle name to Frank and his parents agreed. At that point, he became William F. Buckley Jr."
  2. ^ Italie, Hillel via Associated Press. "Conservative Author Buckley Dead at 82", San Francisco Chronicle, February 27, 2008. Accessed January 18, 2009.
  3. ^ The Wall Street Journal 28 February 2008, p. A16
  4. ^ For complete, searchable texts see Buckley Online.
  5. ^ a b Douglas Martin (2008-02-27). "William F. Buckley Jr. Is Dead at 82". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-02-27. 
  6. ^ George H. Nash (2008-02-28). ""Simply Superlative: Words for Buckley"". National Review Online. Retrieved 2008-02-29. 
  7. ^ C-SPAN Booknotes 10/23/1993
  8. ^ Buckley, William F., Jr. Happy Days Were Here Again: Reflections of a Libertarian Journalist, Random House, ISBN 0-679-40398-1, 1993.
  9. ^ a b Ponte, Lowell (2008-02-28). "Memories of William F. Buckley, Jr.". Newsmax. Retrieved 2008-02-28. 
  10. ^ a b c William F. Buckley Jr. (2004). "Miles Gone By: A Literary Autobiography". Regnery Publishing.  Early chapters recount his early education and mastery of languages.
  11. ^ a b Once Again, Buckley Takes On Bach . The New York Times. Published October 25, 1992.
  12. ^ Tanglewood Jazz Festival, September 1-3, 2006 in Lenox, Massachusetts August 2, 2006
  13. ^ "Charlie Rose". Charlie Rose. PBS. 2006-03-24. 50:43 minutes in.
  14. ^ William F. Buckley Jr. dies at 82 February 27, 2008
  15. ^ a b Buck, Rinker, "William F. Buckley Jr.  l  1925-2008: Icon Of The Right: Entertaining, Erudite Voice Of Conservatism", obituary, The Hartford Courant, February 28, 2007. "Material from the Associated Press was also used." Retrieved February 29, 2007
  16. ^ Buckley, Nearer, My God. p241
  17. ^ Buckley, Nearer, My God p30
  18. ^ Buckley, Nearer, My God. p37
  19. ^ "William F. Buckley on the New Mass". Retrieved 2008-07-11. 
  20. ^ Robbins, Alexandra (2002). Secrets of the Tomb: Skull and Bones, the Ivy League, and the Hidden Paths of Power. Boston: Little, Brown. ISBN 0-316-72091-7. , 41
  21. ^ a b c "'Buckley, William F(rank), Jr (1925–2008) Biography'". Retrieved 2008-02-27. 
  22. ^ William F. Buckley, Jr. (January 26, 2007), "Howard Hunt, RIP"
  23. ^ Tad Szulc, Compulsive Spy: The Strange Career of E. Howard Hunt (New York: Viking, 1974)
  24. ^ "Conservative Crack-Up". Retrieved 2007-07-27. 
  25. ^ Martin, Douglas (February 27, 2008). "William F. Buckley Jr. is dead at 82". Obituary. International Herald Tribune. Retrieved 2008-02-27. 
  26. ^ a b Buckley Retires As Editor; National Review Founder Steps Down After 35 Years June 10, 1990
  27. ^ a b A Personal Retrospective November 17, 2005
  28. ^ Buckley, William F. (1954). McCarthy and His Enemies: The Record and Its Meaning. Regnery Publishing. pp. 335. ISBN 0-89526-472-2. 
  29. ^ "Ayn Rand, R.I.P.", The National Review, April 2, 1982.
  30. ^ [1]
  31. ^ "Big Sister is Watching You". Retrieved 2007-07-27. 
  32. ^ "A Half-Century-Old Attack on Ayn Rand Reminds Us of the Dark Side of Conservatism". Retrieved 2007-07-27. 
  33. ^ a b c Sanger, Deborah, "Questions for William F. Buckley: Conservatively Speaking", interview in The New York Times Magazine, July 11, 2004. Retrieved March 6, 2008
  34. ^ Buckley, Jr., William F. (August 1957). "Editorial". National Review. 
  35. ^ Heer, Jeet. "William F. Buckley: the Gift of Friendship". Retrieved 2008-03-01. 
  36. ^ a b Tanenhaus, Sam, on William F. Buckley, Paper Cuts blog at The New York Times website, February 27, 2008. Tanenhaus, an editor at the Times, was working on a biography of Buckley at the time.
  37. ^ William F. Buckley, Jr. "Goldwater, the John Birch Society, and Me". Retrieved 2008-03-09. 
  38. ^ a b Tanenhaus, Sam. "The Buckley Effect". Retrieved 2007-11-12. 
  39. ^ Rick Perlstein, Nixonland, 2008. pp. 144-6
  40. ^ William F. Buckley, Jr.: The Witch-Doctor is Dead by Harry Binswanger — Capitalism Magazine
  41. ^ Youtube video of the exchange
  42. ^ a b Vidal Discredited! Esquire apologies to Buckley; picks up legal tab.
  43. ^ Vidal, Gore (September 1969). "A Distasteful Encounter with William F. Buckley Jr.". Esquire: pp. 140–145, 150. Archived from the original on 2007-06-24. Retrieved 2008-02-28. 
  44. ^ "Buckley and Vidal: One More Round". Retrieved 2007-07-27. 
  45. ^ William F. Buckley Jr. on Norman Mailer on National Review Online
  46. ^ Reagan: A Life in Letters, (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2003), 64.
  47. ^ The Paris Review — The Art of Fiction No. 146
  48. ^ 'Last Call for Blackford Oakes': Cocktails With Philby, Charlie Rubin, The New York Times, July 17, 2005
  49. ^ Buckley, William F., Miles Gone By, A Literary Autobiography
  50. ^ Buckley, William F. (April 13, 1970), "Amnesty International", Newark Advocate: 4 
  51. ^ Montgomery, Bruce P. (Spring 1995), "Archiving Human Rights: The Records of Amnesty International USA", Archivaria: the Journal of the Association of Canadian Archivists (39), 
  52. ^ Did He Kiss Joe? July 5, 2006
  53. ^ NPR: A Life on the Right: William F. Buckley July 14, 2004
  54. ^ Neoconservatism: a CIA Front?, by Gregory Pavlik. The Rothbard-Rockwell Report, 1997
  55. ^ William F. Buckley Jr. September 3, 1999
  56. ^ The Decline of National Review, by James P. Lubinskas, American Renaissance, September, 2000
  57. ^ Buckley Revealed 2001
  58. ^ William F. Buckley Jr. and the John Birch Society December 13, 2002
  59. ^ Appreciating Bill Buckley 2003
  60. ^ Pied Piper for the Establishment February 21, 2003
  61. ^ The Great Prevaricator: William F. Buckley helped killer Edgar Smith to a second trial August 25, 2003
  62. ^ Buckley's Final Passage? 2004
  63. ^ Interview with Buckley August 09, 2004
  64. ^ ML NewsHour: William F. Buckley Jr. September 8, 2004
  65. ^ Cathleen P. Black and William F. Buckley Jr. to Receive Magazine Industry Lifetime Achievement Awards November 10, 2005
  66. ^ Happy is the Columnist who has no history April 6, 2007
  67. ^ Buckley: Bush Not A True Conservative CBS News, July 22, 2006
  68. ^ "Hardball with Chris Matthews (transcript)". MSNBC. 2008-10-14. Retrieved 2009-03-10.  Buckley: "My dad always distinguished between capital—large C and small C. And he thought W. was a small C."
  69. ^ [2]
  70. ^ "Season of Conservative Sloth". Retrieved 2007-07-27. 
  71. ^ "It Didn’t Work". Retrieved 2007-07-27. 
  72. ^ Right at the end, The American Conservative, March 24, 2008
  73. ^ [3]
  74. ^ "The Openmind: Buckley on Drug Legalization". Retrieved 2007-07-27. 
  75. ^ a b Buckley, William F Jr (2007-12-03). "My Smoking Confessional". Retrieved 2008-02-28. 
  76. ^ Video of Buckley debating James Baldwin, October 26, 1965, Cambridge University; digitized by UC Berkeley
  77. ^ "The Collected Controversies of William F. Buckley", February 28, 2008.
  78. ^ "Walking the Road that Buckley Built," by Michael Johns, March 7, 2008.
  79. ^ Office of the Press Secretary, the White House (February 27, 2008). "Statement by the President on Death of William F. Buckley". Press release. Retrieved 2008-02-28. 
  80. ^ The Office of Nancy Reagan (February 27, 2008). "Nancy Reagan Reacts To Death Of William F. Buckley". Press release. Retrieved 2008-02-28. 
  81. ^ a b Italie, Hillele (February 27, 2008). "Conservative author Buckley dies at 82". Associated Press (Yahoo! News). Retrieved 2008-02-28. 
  82. ^ Gingrich, Newt. "Before there was Goldwater or Reagan, there was Bill Buckley". Retrieved 2008-03-04. 
  83. ^ See Schmidt, Julian. (June 6, 2005) National Review Notes & asides. (Letter to the Editor) Volume 53; Issue 2. Pg. 17. ("Dear Mr. Buckley: You can call off the hunt for the elusive "encephalophonic". I have it cornered in Webster's Third New International Dictionary, where the noun "encephalophone" is defined as "an apparatus that emits a continuous hum whose pitch is changed by interference of brain waves transmitted through oscillators from electrodes attached to the scalp and that is used to diagnose abnormal brain functioning." I knew right where to look, because you provoked my search for that word a generation ago, when I first (and not last) encountered it in one of your books. If it was used derisively about you, I can only infer that the reviewer's brain was set a-humming by a) his failure to follow your illaqueating (ensnaring) logic, b) his dizzied awe at your manifold talents, and/or c) his inability to distinguish lexiphanicism (the use of pretentious words) from lectio divina. I say, keep it up. We could all do with more brain vibrations.")
  84. ^ Tsai, Michelle (2008-02-28). "Why Did William F. Buckley Jr. talk like that?". Slate. Retrieved 2008-02-28. 
  85. ^ Dec 23, 1991: Archived People Magazine review of film by Jeannie Park.


  • Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of American Writers. Massachusetts: Merriam-Webster. 2001. 
  • Contemporary Authors. Farmington Hills, Michigan: The Gale Group. 2003. 
  • Birnbach, Lisa (1980). The Official Preppy Handbook. New York: Workman Publishing Company, Inc. ISBN 9780894801952. 
  • Bridges, Linda (2007). Strictly Right: William F. Buckley Jr. and the American Conservative Movement. New York: Wiley, John & Sons, Incorporated. ISBN 0471758175. 
  • Buckley, James Lane (2006). Gleanings from an Unplanned Life: An Annotated Oral History. Wilmington: Intercollegiate Studies institute. ISBN 978-1-933859-11-8. 
  • Buckley, Reid (1999). Strictly Speaking. New York: McGraw-Hill. ISBN 0-07-134610-4. 
  • Lamb, Brian (2001). Booknotes: Stories from American History. New York: Penguin. ISBN 1-58648-083-9. 
  • Gottfried, Paul (1993). The Conservative Movement. ISBN 0-8057-9749-1
  • John B. Judis (1990). William F. Buckley, Jr.: Patron Saint of the Conservatives. New York: Touchstone. (full-scale biography). ISBN 0-671-69593-2
  • George H. Nash. The Conservative Intellectual Movement in America Since 1945 (2006)
  • Winchell, Mark Royden (1984). William F. Buckley, Jr.. New York: MacMillan Publishing Company. ISBN 0-8057-7431-9. 
  • Smith, W. Thomas, Jr. (2003). Encyclopedia of the Central Intelligence Agency. New York: Facts on File. ISBN 0-8160-4667-0. 
  • Straus, Tamara (1997). The Literary Almanac: The Best of the Printed Word: 1900 to the Present. New York: High Tide Press. ISBN 1-56731-328-0. 
  • "William F. Buckley, Jr.". C-Span American Writers II. Retrieved September 2, 2004. 
  • Miller, David (1990). Chairman Bill: A Biography of William F. Buckley, Jr.. New York
  • Meehan, William F. III (1990). William F. Buckley Jr: A Bibliography. New York

External links

Party political offices
New political party Conservative Party nominee for Mayor of New York City
Succeeded by
John Marchi


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

The best defense against usurpatory government is an assertive citizenry.

William Frank Buckley Jr. (1925-11-24 - 2008-02-27) was an American author, conservative journalist and commentator based in New York City and Sharon, Connecticut. He founded the influential conservative political magazine National Review in 1955 and hosted the award-winning television show Firing Line from 1966 until 1999.



Though liberals do a great deal of talking about hearing other points of view, it sometimes shocks them to learn that there are other points of view.
Conservatives pride themselves on resisting change, which is as it should be. But intelligent deference to tradition and stability can evolve into intellectual sloth and moral fanaticism, as when conservatives simply decline to look up from dogma because the effort to raise their heads and reconsider is too great.
  • The largest cultural menace in America is the conformity of the intellectual cliques which, in education as well as the arts, are out to impose upon the nation their modish fads and fallacies, and have nearly succeeded in doing so. In this cultural issue, we are, without reservations, on the side of excellence (rather than "newness") and of honest intellectual combat (rather than conformity).
    • "Our Mission Statement" in National Review (19 November 1955)
  • I will not cede more power to the state. I will not willingly cede more power to anyone, not to the state, not to General Motors, not to the CIO. I will hoard my power like a miser, resisting every effort to drain it away from me. I will then use my power, as I see fit. I mean to live my life an obedient man, but obedient to God, subservient to the wisdom of my ancestors; never to the authority of political truths arrived at yesterday at the voting booth. That is a program of sorts, is it not? It is certainly program enough to keep conservatives busy, and liberals at bay. And the nation free.
    • Up from Liberalism (1959)
  • Two Thousand Names. I am obliged to confess I should sooner live in a society governed by the first two thousand names in the Boston telephone directory than in a society governed by the two thousand faculty members of Harvard University.
    • 1963 statement, as quoted in The Quote Verifier : Who Said What, Where, and When (2006) by Ralph Keyes, p. 82
    • Variant: I would rather be governed by the first two thousand people in the Boston telephone directory than by the two thousand people on the faculty of Harvard University.
      • Meet the Press (1965), as quoted in The Quote Verifier : Who Said What, Where, and When (2006) by Ralph Keyes, p. 82
      • The numbers cited in paraphrases of this quote often vary from 100 to 2000.
    • Unsourced variant: I would rather be governed by the first 2000 names in the Boston phone book than by the 2000 members of the faculty of Harvard University.
  • Age of Conformity. One must recently have lived on or close to a college campus to have a vivid intimation of what has happened. It is there that we see how a number of energetic social innovators, plugging their grand designs, succeeded over the years in capturing the liberal intellectual imagination. And since ideas rule the world, the ideologues, having won over the intellectual class, simply walked in and started to run things. Run just about everything. There never was an age of conformity quite like this one, or a camaraderie quite like the Liberals'.
  • Radical conservatives in this country have an interesting time of it, for when they are not being suppressed or mutilated by Liberals, they are being ignored or humiliated by a great many of those of the well-fed Right, whose ignorance and amorality have never been exaggerated for the same reason that one cannot exaggerate infinity.
    There are, thank Heaven, the exceptions. There are those of generous impulse and a sincere desire to encourage a responsible dissent from the Liberal orthodoxy. And there are those who recognize that when all is said and done, the market place depends for a license to operate freely on the men who issue licenses — on the politicians. They recognize, therefore, that efficient getting and spending is itself impossible except in an atmosphere that encourages efficient getting and spending. And back of all political institutions there are moral and philosophical concepts, implicit or defined. Our political economy and our high-energy industry run on large, general principles, on ideas — not by day-to-day guess work, expedients and improvisations. Ideas have to go into exchange to become or remain operative; and the medium of such exchange is the printed word.
    • "Publisher's Statement", in the first issue of National Review (19 November 1955)
  • The central question that emerges—and it is not a parliamentary question or a question that is answered by merely consulting a catalog of the rights of American citizens, born Equal—is whether the White community in the South is entitled to take such measures as are necessary to prevail, politically and culturally, in areas in which it does not predominate numerically? The sobering answer is Yes—the White community is so entitled because, for the time being, it is the advanced race.

    National Review believes that the South's premises are correct. If the majority wills what is socially atavistic, then to thwart the majority may be, though undemocratic, enlightened. It is more important for any community, anywhere in the world, to affirm and live by civilized standards, than to bow to the demands of the numerical majority. Sometimes it becomes impossible to assert the will of a minority, in which case it must give way; and the society will regress; sometimes the numerical minority cannot prevail except by violence: then it must determine whether the prevalence of its will is worth the terrible price of violence.

  • Though liberals do a great deal of talking about hearing other points of view, it sometimes shocks them to learn that there are other points of view.
    • Up from Liberalism (1959); also quoted in The American Dissent : A Decade of Modern Conservatism (1966) by Jeffrey Peter Hart, p. 171
    • Variants:
    • Liberals claim to want to give a hearing to other views, but then are shocked and offended to discover that there are other views.
      • As quoted in The Nastiest Things Ever Said about Democrats (2006) by Martin Higgins, p. 93
    • Liberals do a great deal of talking about hearing other points of view, but it sometimes shocks them to learn that there are other points of view.
  • They are men and women who tend to believe that the human being is perfectible and social progress predictable, and that the instrument for effecting the two is reason; that truths are transitory and empirically determined; that equality is desirable and attainable through the action of state power; that social and individual differences, if they are not rational, are objectionable, and should be scientifically eliminated; that all people and societies strive to organize themselves upon a rationalist and scientific paradigm.
  • Idealism is fine, but as it approaches reality, the costs become prohibitive.
    • As quoted in The Cynic's Lexicon : A Dictionary of Amoral Advice (1984) by Jonathon Green, p. 34
  • I am, I fully grant, a phenomenon, but not because of any speed in composition. I asked myself the other day, "Who else, on so many issues, has been so right so much of the time?" I couldn't think of anyone.
    • "On Writing Speedily", first published in The New York Times Book Review (1986); republished in Miles Gone By : A Literary Autobiography (2004), p. 405
  • The best defense against usurpatory government is an assertive citizenry.
    • Windfall : The End of the Affair (1992)
  • I've always subconsciously looked out for the total Christian and when I found him he turned out to be a non-practicing Jew.
    • Let Us Talk of Many Things : The Collected Speeches (2000) ISBN-13: 978-0761525516
    • Referring to Richard M. Clurman (1924 - 1996), a journalist, editor and administrator best known for his long association with Time magazine. [1]
  • Conservatives pride themselves on resisting change, which is as it should be. But intelligent deference to tradition and stability can evolve into intellectual sloth and moral fanaticism, as when conservatives simply decline to look up from dogma because the effort to raise their heads and reconsider is too great.
    The laws concerning marijuana aren't exactly indefensible, because practically nothing is, and the thunderers who tell us to stay the course can always find one man or woman who, having taken marijuana, moved on to severe mental disorder.
    But that argument, to quote myself, is on the order of saying that every rapist began by masturbating.
    General rules based on individual victims are unwise.
    And although there is a perfectly respectable case against using marijuana, the penalties imposed on those who reject that case, or who give way to weakness of resolution, are very difficult to defend.
    • "Free Weeds" in National Review (29 June 2004)
  • When in 1951 I was inducted into the CIA as a deep cover agent, the procedures for disguising my affiliation and my work were unsmilingly comprehensive. It was three months before I was formally permitted to inform my wife what the real reason was for going to Mexico City to live. If, a year later, I had been apprehended, dosed with sodium pentothal, and forced to give out the names of everyone I knew in the CIA, I could have come up with exactly one name, that of my immediate boss (E. Howard Hunt, as it happened). In the passage of time one can indulge in idle talk on spook life. In 1980 I found myself seated next to the former president of Mexico at a ski-area restaurant. What, he asked amiably, had I done when I lived in Mexico? "I tried to undermine your regime, Mr. President." He thought this amusing, and that is all that it was, under the aspect of the heavens.
    We have noticed that Valerie Plame Wilson has lived in Washington since 1997. Where she was before that is not disclosed by research facilities at my disposal. But even if she was safe in Washington when the identity of her employer was given out, it does not mean that her outing was without consequence. We do not know what dealings she might have been engaging in which are now interrupted or even made impossible. ... In my case, it was 15 years after reentry into the secular world before my secret career in Mexico was blown, harming no one except perhaps some who might have been put off by my deception.
  • Skepticism about life and nature is most often expressed by those who take it for granted that belief is an indulgence of the superstitious — indeed their opiate, to quote a historical cosmologist most profoundly dead. Granted, that to look up at the stars comes close to compelling disbelief — how can such a chance arrangement be other than an elaboration — near infinite — of natural impulses? Yes, on the other hand, who is to say that the arrangement of the stars is more easily traceable to nature, than to nature's molder? What is the greater miracle: the raising of the dead man in Lazarus, or the mere existence of the man who died and of the witnesses who swore to his revival?
  • One can't doubt that the American objective in Iraq has failed. ... Our mission has failed because Iraqi animosities have proved uncontainable by an invading army of 130,000 Americans. The great human reserves that call for civil life haven't proved strong enough. No doubt they are latently there, but they have not been able to contend against the ice men who move about in the shadows with bombs and grenades and pistols.
    The Iraqis we hear about are first indignant, and then infuriated, that Americans aren't on the scene to protect them and to punish the aggressors. And so they join the clothing merchant who says that everything is the fault of the Americans.
  • I think Mr. Bush faces a singular problem best defined, I think, as the absence of effective conservative ideology — with the result that he ended up being very extravagant in domestic spending, extremely tolerant of excesses by Congress, and in respect of foreign policy, incapable of bringing together such forces as apparently were necessary to conclude the Iraq challenge.
    There will be no legacy for Mr. Bush. I don't believe his successor would re-enunciate the words he used in his second inaugural address because they were too ambitious. So therefore I think his legacy is indecipherable.
    • As quoted at "Buckley: Bush Not A True Conservative" at CBS News, (2006-07-22)
  • Government can't do anything for you except in proportion as it can do something to you.
    • As quoted in "Broken Government: Where the right went wrong," CNN (2006-11-03)
  • It was rumored, in 1946, that the hangman in Nuremberg adjusted the nooses of some of the condemned to magnify the pain of suffocation. Such sadism was not called for then and is not called for now. But if fornication is wrong, there is no denying that it can bring pleasure. The death of Saddam Hussein at rope's end brings a pleasure that is undeniable, and absolutely chaste in its provenance.
  • I get satisfaction of three kinds. One is creating something, one is being paid for it and one is the feeling that I haven’t just been sitting on my ass all afternoon.
    • As quoted in The Book of Positive Quotations (2007) by John Cook

The War On Drugs Is Lost (1995)

Address to the New York Bar Association (Summer 1995); published in "The War On Drugs Is Lost" in National Review Vol. 48, No. 2 (12 February 1996)
  • More people die every year as a result of the war against drugs than die from what we call, generically, overdosing. These fatalities include, perhaps most prominently, drug merchants who compete for commercial territory, but include also people who are robbed and killed by those desperate for money to buy the drug to which they have become addicted.
    This is perhaps the moment to note that the pharmaceutical cost of cocaine and heroin is approximately 2 per cent of the street price of those drugs. Since a cocaine addict can spend as much as $1,000 per week to sustain his habit, he would need to come up with that $1,000. The approximate fencing cost of stolen goods is 80 per cent, so that to come up with $1,000 can require stealing $5,000 worth of jewels, cars, whatever. We can see that at free-market rates, $20 per week would provide the addict with the cocaine which, in this wartime drug situation, requires of him $1,000.
  • Treatment is not now available for almost half of those who would benefit from it. Yet we are willing to build more and more jails in which to isolate drug users even though at one-seventh the cost of building and maintaining jail space and pursuing, detaining, and prosecuting the drug user, we could subsidize commensurately effective medical care and psychological treatment.
  • The cost of the drug war is many times more painful, in all its manifestations, than would be the licensing of drugs combined with intensive education of non-users and intensive education designed to warn those who experiment with drugs.
  • Those who suffer from the abuse of drugs have themselves to blame for it. This does not mean that society is absolved from active concern for their plight. It does mean that their plight is subordinate to the plight of those citizens who do not experiment with drugs but whose life, liberty, and property are substantially affected by the illegalization of the drugs sought after by the minority.
  • It is outrageous to live in a society whose laws tolerate sending young people to life in prison because they grew, or distributed, a dozen ounces of marijuana. I would hope that the good offices of your vital profession would mobilize at least to protest such excesses of wartime zeal, the legal equivalent of a My Lai massacre. And perhaps proceed to recommend the legalization of the sale of most drugs, except to minors.


  • Marijuana never kicks down your door in the middle of the night. Marijuana never locks up sick and dying people, does not suppress medical research, does not peek in bedroom windows. Even if one takes every reefer madness allegation of the prohibitionists at face value, marijuana prohibition has done far more harm to far more people than marijuana ever could.
    • P. J. O'Rourke, as quoted in Busted : Stone Cowboys, Narco-lords, and Washington's War on Drugs (2002) edited by Mike Gray
  • They told me if I voted for Goldwater, he would get us into a war in Vietnam. Well, I voted for Goldwater and that's what happened.
    • This appears to be a variant of a widely disseminated Republican joke with no published attribution of its authorship to Buckley.
    • Variant: They told me if I voted for Goldwater in 1964, that we'd have more war and higher prices. Well, I did, and we do.
      • Mark Hatfield, as quoted in The Condition of Republicanism (1968) by Nick Thimmesch, p. 65
    • They told me if I voted for Goldwater we'd be at war in Vietnam in six months — and I did and we were.
      • Anonymous voter, as quoted in It All Comes Back to Me Now : Character Portraits from the "Golden Apple" (2001) by William O'Shaughnessy, p. 85

Quotes about Buckley

  • William F. Buckley Jr. was one of the great personalities of the United States of the last 50 years. He was the same in private as in public: urbane, humorous and always cordial. ... His humanity and gentlemanliness and unfailing courtesy, as well as his wit and erudition, enabled him to take positions that affronted the liberal conventional wisdom without attracting the venomous antagonism of its leaders. His close friends included such contrary spirits as John Kenneth Galbraith, Mario Cuomo and some of the Kennedys and Rockefellers.
  • We learned from our parents to prefer the good man to the brilliant man. It is a sacred humanity in people we respect. Our compassion is earned in the quality of the human condition. People are surprised to realize that we, princelings of Dame Fortune, as they feel us to be, tread the same hard interior landscape. And it may be this that comes through, that fascinates, because we do not presume, "Come, let us lead you," but, instead, petition, "Come, our philosophy is your way, the human way, and it is you who will and must lead yourselves…"
  • Had there been no Buckley, there would likely have been no Reagan administration, no Morning in America, no “Tear down this wall,” and no Cold War triumph for liberty and the West.
    It may sometimes be confusing, what with all the intramural squabbling among libertarian conservatives, neoconservatives, paleoconservatives, and the like, to know exactly what “conservatism” stands for these days. But Buckley more than anyone made clear that there are things it would not stand for.
  • He was really a quintessential leader of the conservative movement not just in New York but in the nation. There are no other Bill Buckleys now on the scene. On a personal level he was a very warm and kind individual.
  • You didn’t just part the Red Sea — you rolled it back, dried it up and left exposed, for all the world to see, the naked desert that is statism. And then, as if that weren’t enough, you gave the world something different, something in its weariness it desperately needed, the sound of laughter and the sight of the rich, green uplands of freedom.
  • Buckley was conservative before conservative was cool. He was brilliant, Ivy League, handsome and very, very, VERY articulate. And he was, well, so very self confident. All of his talent and style combined to rebirth the moribund conservative movement in this country. From his founding of the National Review to the day he stepped down from moderating his signature talk show, “Firing Line.” It is fair to say that Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and Newt Gingrich all owe their place in American history to the man who once famously wrote that he didn’t know anyone smarter than himself. ... In a way, it’s sad that people like Rush Limbaugh and Michael Savage are today’s mouthpieces for conservatism. What a far leap they are from the quick witted and smart Buckley. I think it’s fair to say that even Buckley’s ideological enemies admired him and respected him. That’s because Buckley was not a hate monger; he was a serious-minded person who made reasoned and rational arguments for his cause. No apologies to Limbaugh, Savage or their listeners and adherents — they are no substitute for Buckley’s class and intellectualism.

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