Thursday, February 28, 2008

R.I.P. WFB

Yesterday morning at the age of 82, while working in his study, we lost William F. Buckley.

Mr. Buckley captivated many of us for decades with his columns, speeches, debates, appearances on TV talk shows, his authoring of 50+ books, his harpsichord-playing, creation of National Review and a seminal television program for serious political discourse called "Firing Line."
WFB, Wikipedia
In my twenties, I'd watch television debates with awe and amusement as Mr. Buckley gracefully routed his opponents. He had no equal then.  I'm not sure he has one today.  Millions of Americans, I'm guessing under the age of 35, have little appreciation of this man's enormous gifts and contributions to contemporary conservative thought.

He advocated for free markets and limited government before it was cool to do so.  He warned about secularism before it reached the proportions with which we now contend. He was also America's most charming intellectual. His command of language, politics, economics, history and philosophy is legendary.

But it's often the subtle things we recall about those we've known (or wish we had known).  I'll never forget that devilish, enlightened sparkle in his eyes flashing at the same moment his expansive smile would emerge. That radiant face revealed something more than the intellectual gifts for which he is often parodied.
WFB with Ronald Reagan, Wikipedia

What I saw in those signature Buckley facial expressions was an abundant joyfulness and love of life beaming straight through the camera lens and into our homes.