Buckley for the Masses

Overly committed as he was to supposedly universal political ideals and to the spread of American liberal democracy throughout the world, William F. Buckley, Jr., was not my kind of conservative.  He could be tactless and cruel, as when he wrote in an obituary for Murray Rothbard that “Rothbard had defective judgment” and “couldn’t handle moral priorities.”  Buckley then trumpeted some unflattering anecdotes about Rothbard before likening him to David Kor­esh.  Yet, despite such tantrums and vendettas, something in the way he conducted himself—his showy decorum, flaunted manners, and sophisticated rhetoric—appealed to me.

Carl T. Bogus, an American law professor, seems to share my qualified respect for Buckley, despite disagreeing with him on important political and theoretical issues.  “I should tell the reader up front,” Bogus warns, “that I am a liberal and thus critical—in some instances, highly critical—of Buckley’s ideology.”  Yet, adds Bogus, “I admire William F. Buckley Jr. enormously.”

Unlike bobble-headed television personalities and think-tank sycophants, Bogus does justice to his subject, treating Buckley’s ideas evenhandedly.  “[D]is­heartened by the present state of partisan animosity,” he argues that one solution “is...

Join now to access the full article and gain access to other exclusive features.

Get Started

Already a member? Sign in here