William F. Buckley: The "Safe" Conservative ~ Annapolis Capital Punishment

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

William F. Buckley: The "Safe" Conservative

The man who made conservatism respectable is dead. On NPR tonight, his son Christopher said how his father kicked the kooks (Antisemites, John Birchers etc.) out of the conservative movement. William F. Buckley was erudite, entertaining, witty and although sometimes pompous (after all, he was a New England highbrow), he was not one of the bad guys. When he stood behind Barry Goldwater, he took on another old-moneyed, New England Catholic. Some said his work paved the way for Ronald Reagan.

I heard tonight that he wrote no less than 41 books! He was also a fine sailor, as evidenced by his popular books such as "Atlantic High: A Celebration", "Racing Through Paradise: A Pacific Passage" and "Airborne: A Sentimental Journey". I'll always remember reading about when he showed up at some off-limits, hush-hush, US military base on an island in the middle of the Pacific. The unwelcoming officer who tells him he may take on water and then leave...quickly gets faced down by Buckley, ever the well-connected politico, who tries to pull rank, but gets rebuffed. One wonders if he ever did complain to his friend the General or Admiral so-and-so.

Nowadays when listening to talk radio or reading the "conservative" bloggers (yep-especially here in Maryland), one wonders how the kooks crept back into conservatism.


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