Under the Black Flag

Big Macs, A-bombs, and Trump

William F. Buckley, Jr., spent his adult winter months in Rougemont, an alpine resort next to its chicer neighbor Gstaad, now the Mecca for the nouveau riche and vulgar.  Throughout the 60’s and 70’s, however, the area was known for its music festival run by Yehudi Menuhin, and for celebrity writers like Buckley, my mentor, and others such as John Kenneth Galbraith and actor-turned-author David Niven.

The Buckley household entertained nightly, Bill and Pat being experts at mixing those of us who knew little with cultural icons such as Vladimir Nabokov and his son, Dmitri, both of whom were occasional visitors.  Postprandial entertainment was provided in Bill’s downstairs studio, where everyone was required to paint a picture.  (Teddy Kennedy painted a bridge two years after Chappa quiddick.)  Toward the end of his life, after Bill had allowed the neocon infiltration of the conservative movement by such American “patriots” as Norman Podhoretz and Irving Kristol, Bill no longer painted but indulged in a game where each of his guests opined whom he considered the worst American president to have served that office.

When my turn would come—Buckley always kept me for last—I always answered either Woodrow Wilson or Abraham Lincoln, although the former was a far bigger hypocrite.  (And unlike Abe, he did not pay for his crime of going to war and misleading...

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