William F. Buckley died on this day in 2008. Posting about him is no way to excuse the fact that he was a Joseph McCarthy apologist, that he held bigoted views against homosexuals that would make Rick Santorum blush with delight, was one of the key players in getting Ronald Reagan elected, and a myriad of other inexcusable views and statements.
What I will say about William F. Buckley is that his brand of Conservatism included something many who followed in footsteps seem to have forsaken in this day and age: discourse with the other side instead of simply screaming on some 24-hour news station. He knew that his writing would need to be longer than 140 characters to be of any true value. As little regard I hold Buckley’s National Review in, I’d be beyond shocked if Sarah Palin or Sean Hannity came up with anything half as intelligent as the conservative magazine founded by Buckley. (Please don’t tell me that Big Government or anything connected to Andrew Breitbart is an acceptable suitor.)
Buckley is hardly one of my favorite people, but he was a smart political writer (no matter how despicable the ideas behind the writings), and also a television personality who invited people from all over the political and social spectrum to at least attempt to talk and debate with him (even though as you will see, when somebody disagreed with Buckley, or told him his facts were wrong, he didn’t always take it incredibly well).
So today, the death day anniversary of William Frank Buckley, Jr., we present a collection of Firing Line clips, as well as a few of Buckley’s other well-known television moments.
1. Groucho Marx
In which Buckley proves that even though he wasn’t well-known for his politics, Groucho Marx was still one of the last people you wanted to debate with.
2. Noam Chomsky
Buckley talks to Chomsky, and doesn’t seem to have all his facts totally in order, but still ends up threatening to punch his guest in the mouth.
3. Muhammad Ali
Ali sounds brilliant in this, Buckley can just listen.
4. Buckley meets the hippies
In 1968, Buckley had on Jack Kerouac, Ed Sanders of The Fugs, and author and sociologist Lewis Yablonsky. Sanders sounds smart, Kerouac is hammered (and would be dead a year later), Yablonsky seems like the token academic,and Buckley in his seersucker jacket seems totally smug and happy.
5. Woody Allen invites Buckley onto his show.
Woody invites Buckley on counter-balance his own views, which he describes as “desperately liberal, and criminal at times.”
6. Buckley talks to Huey P. Newton
Newton starts off the interview with an interesting question posed to Buckley.
7. Buckley talks to Ron Paul
This is part one of four of the 1988 interview.
8. Norman Mailer
Buckley starts his off guest with a few compliments as Mailer makes the rounds promoting The Armies of the Night.
9. Buckley talks to Hugh Hefner
10. Buckley talks to Christopher Hitchens (We’ve posted the first two clips.)