William F. Buckley: R.I.P., Enfant Terrible…By Ann Coulter


As with Ronald Reagan, everyone prefers to remember great men when they weren’t being great, but later, when they were being admired. Having changed the world, there came a point when Buckley no longer needed to shock it.

Other tributes will contain the obvious quotes about demanding a recount if he won the New York mayoral election and trusting the first 100 names in the Boston telephone book more than the Harvard faculty. I shall revel in the “terrible” aspects of the enfant terrible.

Buckley’s first book, “God and Man at Yale,” was met with the usual thoughtful critiques of anyone who challenges the liberal establishment. Frank Ashburn wrote in the Saturday Review: “The book is one which has the glow and appeal of a fiery cross on a hillside at night. There will undoubtedly be robed figures who gather to it, but the hoods will not be academic. They will cover the face.”

The president of Yale sent alumni thousands of copies of McGeorge Bundy’s review of the book from the Atlantic Monthly calling Buckley a “twisted and ignorant young man.” Other reviews bordered on the hyperbolic. One critic simply burst into tears, then transcribed his entire crying jag word for word.

Buckley’s next book, “McCarthy and His Enemies,” written with L. Brent Bozell, proved that normal people didn’t have to wait for the Venona Papers to be declassified to see that the Democratic Party was collaborating with fascists. The book — and the left’s reaction thereto — demonstrated that liberals could tolerate a communist sympathizer, but never a Joe McCarthy sympathizer.

Nor would National Review endorse liberal Republican Richard Nixon, waiting until 1964 to enthusiastically support a candidate for president who had no hope of winning. Barry Goldwater, though given the right things to say — often by Buckley or Bozell, who wrote Goldwater’s “Conscience of a Conservative” — was not particularly bright.

But the Goldwater candidacy, Buckley believed, would provide “the well-planted seeds of hope,” eventually fulfilled by Ronald Reagan. Goldwater was sort of the army ant on whose body Reagan walked to greatness. Thanks, Barry. When later challenged on Reagan’s intellectual stature, Buckley said: “Of course, he will always tend to reach first for an anecdote. But then, so does the New Testament.”

With liberal Republicans still bothering everyone even after Reagan, Buckley went all out against liberal Republican Sen. Lowell P. Weicker Jr. When Democrat Joe Lieberman challenged Weicker for the Senate in 1988, National Review ran an article subtly titled: “Does Lowell Weicker Make You Sick?”

Buckley started a political action committee to support Lieberman, explaining, “We want to pass the word that it’s OK to vote for the other guy or stay at home.” The good thing about Lieberman, Buckley said, was that he “doesn’t have the tendency of appalling you every time he opens his mouth.”

That same year, when the radical chic composer Leonard Bernstein complained about the smearing of the word “liberal,” Buckley replied: “Lenny does not realize that one of the reasons the ‘L’ word is discredited is that it was handled by such as Leonard Bernstein.” The composer was so unnerved by this remark that, just to cheer himself up, he invited several extra Black Panthers to his next cocktail party.

In a famous exchange with Gore Vidal in 1968, Vidal said to Buckley: “As far as I am concerned, the only crypto Nazi I can think of is yourself.”

Buckley replied: “Now listen, you queer. Stop calling me a crypto Nazi, or I’ll sock you in your goddamn face and you’ll stay plastered.”

Years later, in 1985, Buckley said of the incident: “We both acted irresponsibly. I’m not a Nazi, but he is, I suppose, a fag.”

Some of Buckley’s best lines were uttered in court during a lengthy libel trial in the ’80s against National Review brought by the Liberty Lobby, which was then countersued by National Review. (The Liberty Lobby lost and NR won.)

Irritated by attorney Mark Lane’s questions, Buckley asked the judge: “Your Honor, when he asks a ludicrous question, how am I supposed to behave?”

In response to another of Lane’s questions, Buckley said: “I decline to answer that question; it’s too stupid.”

When asked if he had “referred to Jesse Jackson as an ignoramus,” Buckley said, “If I didn’t, I should have.”

Yes indeed…R.I.P., Enfant Terrible.

Human Events

Posted in Temp. 5 Comments »

5 Responses to “William F. Buckley: R.I.P., Enfant Terrible…By Ann Coulter”

  1. spot_the_dog Says:

    Jon Ham at Right Angles has a shorter, but still good, piece of personal reminiscence as well.

  2. spot_the_dog Says:

    You know what’s driving me mad? The number of Lefties with the Faux Outrage continually bringing up Buckley’s admittedly racist statement in the National Review back in the 50’s. He was brought up to be a bigot – many people were during that era.

    The point is that by the mid-1960’s he completely repudiated racism – he was a big enough man, an independent enough thinker, to change his views and admit that he was wrong.

    But will any of the Lefties drop the faux outrage for even a second and admit it? No, they keep dragging out an out-of-context quote from 1957.

    P.S. 1957 was also the year when President Dwight Eisenhower, a Republican, had to deploy the 82nd Airborne Division to desegregate the Little Rock, Ark., schools over the resistance of Democrat Gov. Orval Faubus. And Democratic former Klansmen were still active in politics well through the 60’s. And in 1964 23 Senate Democrats, including Tennessee’s Al Gore Sr.,tried very very hard to scuttle the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

    Where’s the outrage for things like that?

    AUGH!!!! **bangs head on wall**

  3. tizona Says:

    Add one more to the list, Sir Spot. J. William Fulbright

    A member of the United States Senate representing Arkansas. Fulbright was a Southern Democrat and a staunch multilateralist, supported racial segregation, supported the creation of the United Nations and opposed the House Un-American Activities Committee. He is also remembered for his efforts to establish an international exchange program, which thereafter bore his name, the Fulbright Fellowships. Fulbright was also the longest serving chairman in the history of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

  4. Angus Dei Says:

    Spot, Senator Byrd of West Virginia was a Grand Something-Or-Other in the Ku Klux Klan, but he gets a pass because he’s a Democrat. It’s enough to make you want to break things and set shit on fire.

  5. spot_the_dog Says:

    #4 I need to gather some of my sources together and do a post on how the KKK was so dominated by Lefties, not just in the beginning but right through to the 70’s. The Democrats have traditionally been the racist party (just as Labor has been here – they’re the ones who came up with the White Australia Policy). Here’s Condoleeza Rice on why her father became a Republican rather than a Democrat:

    Current Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice has said: “The first Republican I knew was my father, and he is still the Republican I most admire. He joined our party because the Democrats in Jim Crow Alabama of 1952 would not register him to vote. The Republicans did. My father has never forgotten that day, and neither have I.”

    “It’s enough to make you want to break things and set shit on fire.” Yes, it is that. But more productive would be me putting together a post on this subject including some of the good sources I have. Plus re-skim through a book I have which covers that issue, “Setting the Record Straight: American History in Black & White” by David Barton. Probably on the weekend, I will.

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