Saturday, March 01, 2008

Why I loved William F. Buckley, Jr.

By Libby

It may seem strange to those who know how politically left I lean, but I loved William F. Buckley and I'm truly saddened by his death. Of the the three conservatives that caught my youthful fancy, the other two being George Will and James J. Kilpatrick, Buckley was the only one that held my admiration and affection to his last day. As I matured, neither Will's devotion to my bowtie fetish nor Kilpatrick's grandfatherly demeanor held my interest or respect. I came to see them both as somewhat devious and exceedingly pompous prigs, but Buckley, he was a warrior to the end.
NEW YORK - William F. Buckley Jr. died at work, in his study. The Cold War had ended long before. A Republican was in the White House. The word "liberal" had been shunned like an ill-mannered guest.
I think they could have ended his eulogy right there. In a way it says everything that needs to be said. He died, as he lived, believing so passionately in his own vision that he spent his last breath trying to change the world to conform to it. I was surprised to see him described as some kind of debonair figure though.
Yet on the platform, he was all handsome, reptilian languor, flexing his imposing vocabulary ever so slowly, accenting each point with an arched brow or rolling tongue and savoring an opponent's discomfort with wide-eyed glee.
Ugh. I found him physically repellent and the rolling tongue thing made me queasy. Reptilian is certainly the right word to describe it but despite that, I found him fascinating. He struck me as an oddly classy jerk. Much as I hated what he said, I loved the way he said it. I've always had a weakness for a good linguist and I found it impossible not to be impressed with his command of language. I have to admit I haven't paid a lot of attention to him in the last decade or so, but nonetheless, I'm going to miss him. May he rest in peace.

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