For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. ---Ephesians 6:12

"The age of casual Catholicism is over; the age of heroic Catholicism has begun. We can no longer be Catholics by accident, but instead must be Catholics by CONVICTION." ---Fr. Terrence Henry TOR, Franciscan University of Steubenville

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

William F. Buckley Jr. Remembered

William F. Buckley Jr., the father of modern conservatism died yesterday after living a very rich and productive life, influencing modern political thought, and setting the stage for the Reagan Revolution which saved this country from the years of Jimmy Carter.

Although I have never met the man, I do have stark memories of him throughout my childhood and since, as my father was a huge fan of Firing Line. As a child I hated it. My early memories of Buckley were of dread. I dreaded Sunday afternoons when my father would enter the family room and switch channels to PBS, and subject me to that dry, drab, and stuffy show. After that I would switch channels to 60 Minutes, a favorite of mine at the time. How things have changed.

When I was approaching 17, Buckley was featured on 60 Minutes (I nearly left the room, expecting a dry, drab, and stuffy interview when I saw it previewed), and much to my surprise...he was artfully clever, lively, quick witted, and funny. I think Morley Safer tried to strafe him but failed. Buckley impressed me then and thereafter. And even though I never quite got in the habit of watching Firing Line, I made a special point to catch him in several interviews, and even subscribed to National Review for a time.

I'll never forget one interview he did on Donahue back in that show's heyday. Phil Donahue tried a surprise attack in which he accused Buckley of being "owned by the military establishment." Buckley's response was calm but gravely cold. He glared at Donahue and said dismissively "No one owns me, Phil...only GOD owns me."

More recently I purchased Miles Gone By, his autobiography, in CD format. I strongly recommend this format because it is read aloud by Buckley himself, and you get every nuance from his voice inflection and tone. The only thing better would be a Buckley video of the same book.

Someone recently told me that Ann Coulter was banished from National Review. But that didn't stop her from writing a fine tribute to Buckley here.

May he rest in peace. And may the Buckley family be in our prayers.


Paul said...

Matt, this was a wonderful retrospective and tribute to WFB. who was definitely one-of-a-kind in our lifetime.

Your Dad. who was undoubtedly a contemporary of mine, was a wise man indeed, and I'm delighted that you ultimately came around to his way of thinking.

(I think it was Winston Churchill who once said that a youthful person who wasn't a liberal had no heart, and that an adult who wasn't a conservative had no brain, or words to that effect. I stopped being a liberal at age 11.)

St Blogustine said...

I knew a young conservative who had no heart...I knew an old liberal who had no brain---Churchill.

I think I switched at just the right time...but I was never really a liberal, you know. Moderate until I wised up.

Anonymous said...

Katheline Parker also paid tribute in her most recent column. She must be close in age to us as her (and your) experiences with Firing Line, etc.. are familiar.