William F. Buckley had a way with words


William F. Buckley Jr., the acid-tongued, staunchly conservative author (40+ books), columnist (since 1979), publishing exec (National Review) and TV host (Firing Line), helped shape the modern media landscape. His reaction to a society increasingly obsessed by celebrity and trivia was rigorously intellectual, intense and probing. Buckley never stopped at the surface, equivocated about his positions, or suffered fools gladly (“I won’t insult your intelligence by suggesting that you really believe what you just said,” he once quipped when presented with a viewpoint in opposition to his own). Buckley was no friend to the left (“Liberals claim to want to give a hearing to other views, but then are shocked and offended to discover that there are other views”), but he also knew when to stick it to The Man (“It had all the earmarks of a CIA operation; the bomb killed everybody in the room except the intended target!”). He was feared, beloved, ridiculed, admired and despised. Though it all, he had an unfailingly playful sense of humor about himself (“Some of my instincts are reprehensible”) and the best diction of any English speaker on the planet. William F. Buckley Jr. died today at his home in Connecticut at age 82. This seems a fitting end-quote: “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.”

—Posted by David Gianatasio

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