William F. Buckley, the intellectual godfather of American conservative political thought, is dead at the age of 82.
From his book God and Man at Yale to his television show Firing Line to his magazine The National Review, Buckley stood for conservative thought unvarnished with sentimentality and with a keen eye on the reality of threats and challenges this nation has faced since World War II.
He was also oh so modest…he once wrote to the editor of the NY Times Book Review:
“I am, I fully grant, a phenomenon, but not because of any speed in composition. I asked myself the other day, ‘Who else, on so many issues, has been so right so much of the time?’ I couldn’t think of anyone.”
While we all have to go, the passing of such a bright light is always sorrowful. I tried to think up the right words, but I think William Kristol hit it on the head:
“For people of my generation, Bill Buckley was pretty much the first intelligent, witty, well-educated conservative one saw on television. He legitimized conservatism as an intellectual movement and therefore as a political movement.”
That about says it all. Perhaps his death will in some small way remind the GOP of what it once was and what it can become again…a focus on individual liberty and limited government…as opposed to the great non-aligned, stand for nothing beyond political power thing it has become.