Bill Buckley died this morning. Farewell, happy warrior.
When the National Review endorsed Romney, I wrote this, but I was really writing about Buckley and the personality he impressed on the magazine:
I grew up on the National Review. I donâ€™t remember where I first heard about her, but I started reading the magazine at the library and then bought a subscription with my paper route money. I mostly imbibed my politics with my motherâ€™s milk, not from the magazine. But much of my basic cultural knowledge I first found through the National Review. And though most of you come from the wrong background to appreciate this, the National Review also broadened my mind and moderated my views.
Sheâ€™s come down in the world lately, just a little bit, as Buckley has grown older and those closer to my generation have taken a larger role. But I still love the magazine. I love the carefully-crafted barbs, the contrarian articles making the conservative case for, e.g., global warming, the editors in love with books and culture and God and wordsmithing.
I’ve wondered what he and President Benson thought of each other, and if they ever had a falling out over the John Birch Society. Buckley seems to have had warm feelings for Mormons. At least, Mormons and Jack Mormons are positive characters in his novels, notably in Getting Right. That’s novel protagonist is a Jack Mormon who joins the John Birch Society and ends up doing a tour of 1950s conservatism. I wrote some strangled objection to him about it, which he published along with a gracious reply.
He and the National Review helped a bookish Mormon kid like me step into the wider world without becoming alienated from my roots (plus getting me over my prejudices against Catholics). We Mormons could learn a lot from his ability to help people like me get over our conservative prejudices without abandoning our conservative principles. May he find congenial company where he is gone, and may he find that company surprisingly Mormon.