Skip to comments.Dinner With William F. Buckley
Posted on 02/28/2008 9:26:33 AM PST by JulianaJohnson
When the news came over the transom yesterday that William F. Buckley, Jr. had passed, I turned to pick up a 14-year-old framed photograph on the desk in my office that I had not looked at for some time.
The picture is of a strapping young man that used to be me shaking hands with the godfather of modern American conservatism as we posed for the snapshot at the base of the stairway leading from the lobby at the Omni Orrington Hotel in Evanston, Illinois.
Through a conservative student group I had run at Northwestern University, we brought Bill Buckley to speak on campus in the fall of 1994.
Up until that evening and from that time until his death, I knew Buckley only the way in which others around the world knew him--through his work as a trailblazing intellectual and by his reputation as an authentic Renaissance man.
Those characteristics were most certainly on display for those in attendance that night in Evanston.
Buckley gleefully recounted the relatively recent demise of the Soviet Union which had the dual benefits of both extending freedom to hundreds of millions of people and of tubing the Cold War arguments of old Buckley nemeses like Carl Sagan and John Kenneth Galbraith.
Buckley had the crowd howling as he openly contemplated whether or not he would have to extend his famous edict that he would rather be governed by the first 2,000 people in the Boston phone book than the entire faculty at Harvard to his alma mater of Yale, given the two Yale Law alumni that had ascended to the White House.
The best part of the night, however, was after the speech--dinner with Buckley.
For three hours William F. Buckley sat with a half-dozen undergrads discussing academia, politics, and life in general. And it was a true discussion not a monologue. Buckley solicited input, postulated questions and offered friendly advice.
After dinner, Buckley leaned back in his chair and enjoyed a snifter of brandy which elicited his signature wry smile as he shared anecdotes about his own experiences as an undergrad and what led him to found National Review, among other such insights.
I remember feeling almost as much at ease as he appeared to be. Not only was Buckley incredibly generous with his time, he was genuinely curious where others of substantially less intellect would have been patronizing.
I learned a lifelong lesson that night to appreciate the contributions of others to the thoughtful discourse from whence knowledge springs.
The 18th Century English poet Edward Young observed, "We are all born originals; why is it so many of us die copies?"
Were that it was possible to copy William F. Buckley, Jr.
Buckley had Zbigniew Brzezinski on his old TV show years
age and opened the dialog with:
“So, tell me about this hallucination you have that
you call a world view”
One of the funniest political putdowns ever!
To honor the life of the last of the Old Lions of the conservative movement, William F. Buckley, Id like to contribute a video homage to him from a MICHIGAN friend of Buckleys, Clark Durant.
William F Buckleys notes written in the covers of the book Clark Durant gave to his groomsmen; Whittaker Chambers Witness provides a touching story, an incredible lesson and insight into the men Buckley and Chambers were . And, as always, pure poetry!
Clark made these comments two months before the night William F. Buckley died. He shared them with the participants of the New Centurion Program presented by the Conservative Institute in consultation with the Russell Kirk Center for Cultural Renewal.
The second video Id like to offer is this video segment Gleaves Whitney discusses William F. Buckleys role in the conservative movement.
I have selected this video because it wonderfully encapsulates the great role Buckley played in the conservative movement. Its also what everyone ought to know about WFB as taught by an incredibly accomplished professor of history and presidential studies.
A Buckleys friend and disciple, Professor Gleaves Whitney, a writer, lecturer, and historian, was named the first permanent Senior Fellow of the Russell Kirk Center for Cultural Renewal and the Director of the Hauenstein Center for Presidential State at GVSU. Professor Whitney has delivered his presentation The Decline and Renewal of American Conservatism to New Centurions in Lansing, Grand Rapids and on the night this world lost Bill, his friend Gleaves would be sharing his magnificent lecture with the New Centurions in Detroit.
Who are the New Centurions
Clarks entire presentation;