T Nation

William F Buckley Jr.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

“The best defense against usurpatory government is an assertive citizenry.”
William F. Buckley Jr.

William F. Buckley Jr. passed away today at age 82.

Buckley was the quintessential intellectual conservative, a modern day philosopher who lived life to the fullest. A novelist, debater, talk show host of TV’s Firing Line, transoceanic sailor, founder the National Review, master skewerer, CIA Agent, and this is a short-list of Mr. Buckley’s talents and professions.

We’ve compiled a few of Buckley’s quotes on Liberals, Conservatives, Islam, Hillary Clinton, President Bush, Barack Obama, John Edwards, the CIA, the Federal Budget, and God.


Liberals (from 1955, the first issue of National Review)

There never was an age of conformity quite like this one, or a camaraderie quite like the Liberals'. Drop a little itching powder in Jimmy Wechsler's bath and before he has scratched himself for the third time, Arthur Schlesinger will have denounced you in a dozen books and speeches, Archibald MacLeish will have written ten heroic cantos about our age of terror, Harper's will have published them, and everyone in sight will have been nominated for a Freedom Award. Conservatives in this country �?? at least those who have not made their peace with the New Deal, and there is a serious question of whether there are others �?? are non-licensed nonconformists; and this is a dangerous business in a Liberal world, as every editor of this magazine can readily show by pointing to his scars. Source - National Review

The Federal Budget

Fifty years ago, Sen. Paul Douglas of Illinois appeared in the Senate chamber lugging a huge manuscript. He plopped it on the rostrum and -- wept. Yes, he actually cried. Tears ran down his face. When he recovered, he addressed his colleagues.

"That," he said, pointing to the mass of paper, "is the budget. I have spent the past three days studying it. I am a professional economist. I can tell you that there are only two people in the United States who know what is in this budget: the director of the budget, and I. And I weep because notwithstanding that I was a college professor, I am incapable of telling you what is in that budget." Source - Townhall - Chewing the Figures

Barack Obama

The big winner was an affront to the common wisdom that looks matter most in the age of television. The dissenters were bound to support a homely man, and they found him on the Democratic side, giving Barack Obama 37.6% of the vote. Mr. Obama could think of himself as in the category of Abraham Lincoln. But he does Abe Lincoln one better by having a name that sounds as if he was on the playbill as the man who will bind the beautiful lady to the rails on which the great express will ride. Source - NYSun

President Bush

"I think Mr. Bush faces a singular problem best defined, I think, as the absence of effective conservative ideology �?? with the result that he ended up being very extravagant in domestic spending, extremely tolerant of excesses by Congress," Buckley says. "And in respect of foreign policy, incapable of bringing together such forces as apparently were necessary to conclude the Iraq challenge." Source - CBSNews

The CIA (Buckley was recruited right out of Yale)

In the passage of time one can indulge in idle talk on spook life. In 1980 I found myself seated next to the former president of Mexico at a ski-area restaurant. What, he asked amiably, had I done when I lived in Mexico? "I tried to undermine your regime, Mr. President." He thought this amusing, and that is all that it was, under the aspect of the heavens�??. Source - How The NeoCons Stole Freedom


It is thought to be a sign of toleration to defer to Islam as simply another religion.It isn't that. It is a form of condescension. Carefully selected, there are Koranic preachments that are consistent with civilized life. But on September 11th we were looked in the face by a deed done by Muslims who understood themselves to be acting out Muslim ideals. It is all very well for individual Muslim spokesmen to assert the misjudgment of the terrorist, but the Islamic world is substantially made up of countries that ignore, or countenance, or support terrorist activity. Source - National Review - So You Want A Holy War

Conservatives and Marijuana

Conservatives pride themselves on resisting change, which is as it should be. But intelligent deference to tradition and stability can evolve into intellectual sloth and moral fanaticism, as when conservatives simply decline to look up from dogma because the effort to raise their heads and reconsider is too great. Source - The November Coalition

John Edwards

Is my friend's hostility to Edwards entirely ideological? No. It is also, like mine, personal. I just don't like his cultivated appeal to the bleachers, combined with the carefully trimmed hairdo. And maybe, most of all, the carefully maintained Southern accent, which you can hear him practicing before his lucrative appearances before the juries who listened to him and believed that they were listening to a brother, a good old Southerner, with all the right instincts for justice. Source - Real Clear Politics

Hillary Clinton (Running for President)

This edginess over Hillary requires that we probe the question: Why is it?

Well, one reason has to be that she married Bill Clinton. That should not be thought of as suicidally self-destructive. Somebody had to marry Bill Clinton. But she not only married him, she stood by him athwart scandal after scandal. This is taken as fidelity of a singular sort, and it is exactly that. But does such fidelity imply a surrender to relativism? The adage is: I am for Harry through thick and thin. But being a faithful Mrs. Harry is a feat of personal durability not always admirable. If Bill had been caught traducing not Monica, but the local bank, would Hillary have been expected to stand by him? Source - The National Review - Hillarymania


Granted, that to look up at the stars comes close to compelling disbelief -- how can such a chance arrangement be other than an elaboration -- near infinite -- of natural impulses? Yes, on the other hand, who is to say that the arrangement of the stars is more easily traceable to nature, than to nature's molder? What is the greater miracle: the raising of the dead man in Lazarus, or the mere existence of the man who died and of the witnesses who swore to his revival? Source - NPR - How Is It Possible to Believe in God