Wednesday, February 27, 2008

RIP Mr. Buckley

May “green grass … grow on your grave” Mr. Buckley, you will be missed!

With wit and dry humor William Buckley tells a story that I have emblazoned in my mind when I wish to grin. He talks of lecturing and having two questions always asked of him, the second most oft asked question is this:

“‘What is conservatism?’ Sometimes the questioner – guarding against the windy evasiveness one comes to expect from lecturers – will add, ‘preferably in one sentence.’ On which occasions I have replied: ‘I could not give you a definition of Christianity in one sentence, but that does not mean that Christianity is undefinable.’

Usually that disposes of the hopes of those who wish a neatly packaged definition of conservatism which they an stow away in their mind, alongside (or replacing?) the definitions of astrology, necrophilia, xenophobia, and philistinianism. Those who are obstinate I punish by giving, with a straight face, Professor Richard Weaver’s definition of conservatism as ‘a paradigm of essences towards which the phenomenology of the world is in continuing approximation’ – as noble efforts as any I have ever read.”

Frank S. Meyer, ed., What Is Conservatism? A Timely, Important and Provocative Examination of American Conservatism by Twelve Leading Thinkers and Spokesman (New York, NY: Holt Rinehart and Winston, 1964), 211.

The Corner (National Review)

I’m devastated to report that our dear friend, mentor, leader, and founder William F. Buckley Jr., died this morning in his study in Stamford, Connecticut.

He died while at work; if he had been given a choice on how to depart this world, I suspect that would have been exactly it. At home, still devoted to the war of ideas.

As you might expect, we’ll have much more to say here and in NR in the coming days and weeks and months. For now: Thank you, Bill. God bless you, now with your dear Pat. Our deepest condolences to Christopher and the rest of the Buckley family. And our fervent prayer that we continue to do WFB’s life’s work justice.

Hot Air (props) (props)

Anyone who is a conservative -- especially a conservative writer (or even blogger) -- owes tremendous a debt of gratitude to William F. Buckley. He made it cool to be a conservative, and in the modern age, he made it possible to be both an intellectual -- and a conservative.

Here's what Morton Blackwell has said about him:

  • Those who came of age politically in the 1980s or later can hardly comprehend the influence Bill Buckley had on the modern conservative movement. He was, by far, the most attractive and thrilling conservative intellect for decades, and more than equal in debate to any liberal intellectual, as we learned on many occasions. Conservative students of my generation, confronted with an overwhelming liberal (and often unbearably smug) faculty, were greatly reassured by the knowledge that Buckley could smash the arguments of anyone on the liberal side ...

For his discussion with Kenneth Minogue, see: