Thursday, February 28, 2008

Goodbye, Boogie Man of My Youth


There was no one who struck greater fear in my teenage heart than William Buckley. He articulated a right-wing, hawkish agenda with more skill than any other pundit of the time. He could make mincemeat of almost anyone on his television show and I watched it, hands held to my eyes. His voice alone, arrogant. educated, sinewy, serpent-like terrified me. Is there anyone out there now who encapsulates an ideology like he did? The right-wing radio/tv hosts today get by on rage and accusations, not through a rigorous mind. Maybe I was too young to see the holes in his arguments, but I was always secretly afraid he was right. He wasn't, of course.

7 comments:

Todd Mason said...

As the Goldwater joke went, In your heart, you knew he was right...too far Right...

But Buckley is always a mixed bag...he had a strong libertarian streak that often seemed to be at odds with his traditionalism. He seemed restless and never quite satisfied, except perhaps with his own eloquence.

One definitely got the sense he preferred to have, say, Noam Chomsky or Norman Thomas on his show ahead of the likes of Ronald Reagan, however much he might agree with and even publicly praise the latter (while looking a bit distressed most of the time in doing so). And, of course, he never forgave Gore Vidal for getting under his skin live on ABC while they did "color" commentary on the Democratic convention in 1968.

pattinase (abbott) said...

OH, the Gore Vidal show was juicy. I wonder if it's on youtube. I'll check.

TM said...

You know, the saddest bit of yesterday's news might've been both the death of Raymond Smith, as well, and how little attention the passing of the founding and only editor of THE ONTARIO REVIEW, making a widow of Joyce Carol Oates, was given...I wouldn't've known if Paul Di Filippo hadn't passed along the NYT obit to the FictionMags list. NPR, at least the shows I heard yesterday, even managed to mention the death of a mildly influential Christian rock musician, but nothing about Smith.

Todd Mason said...

John Judis provided a transcript of the Very Testy exchange (aka WFB loses his shit on air) in his bio of Buckley, and of course Vidal published his essay in ESQUIRE at the time, and Buckley demanded an opportunity to publish one, as well, both of which tend to pop up in BEST OF ESQUIRE anthologies.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Yes, I saw it last week. I always had the feeling, he took care of everything else if you know what I mean.

TM said...

In re: Smith--Oates's primary biographer suggests that she, without saying so directly, strongly discouraged his fiction-writing, so I suspect he expressed most of his creative urges through the magazine and attendant press, even if he was working with her there.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I read her bio. The most boring work I've read. She does nothing but write.