With wondrous disdain for lesser beings
Not to mention such lofty heights of hubris – as possessed by both men.
Anyway, you might not have heard about it, but Bill Buckley is dead. The once patrician and erudite voice of conservatism has been silenced. “Bummer,” I can hear you saying. “And so young, too.” Well, not really, he was actually 82 and had said little of note in recent years.
But, when he did say things of note, he said them in such a splendid polysyllabic manner that I found, even if I disagreed with 80 percent of what he said, I just loved how he said it. Nobody was such a master of contemptuous disdain as Bill when he verbally assailed an opponent in debate. And, if in doubt, he could always threaten to knock his teeth down his throat, just to throw his listeners off guard. Even though he was an American, he was an absolute favorite at the Oxford and Cambridge Union debates.
Well, it was difficult to always tell that he was American with that trans-Atlantic New England accent that evinced all the contributions of his patrician legacy of Ivy League schooling all the way.
Oh, and as an aside, he was also founder and editor of the National Review, the voice of (he believed) ‘reasoned’ conservative thought in the Americas. As another aside, he was married to a Vancouver girl from one of the filthy richest families in my hometown, Patricia Graham. She predeceased him a while ago. I used to drive past the Graham family mansion on my way to university and idly wonder: “What’s it like …” I’ve never found out.
But, even though he was an arch-conservative, I must point out that Buckley was not representative of the ragtag ‘me-firsters’ who propelled George W. into power. Those are new-money fat-cats whose motivation is to keep that goddamn money. These are not people who put on airs. By the way, Buckley considered such Hyannisport ‘arrivistes’ as the Kennedys to be definitely not his sort. The Clintons, I am supposing, would have been beneath contempt.
What he believed in was a hierarchy of humanity, and he labored long to maintain a 19th century view of noblesse oblige, but keeping the bastards down, as well. Society worked better that way, he seemed to believe. He loathed left-wing thought, and had a special disdain for champagne socialists; the ‘parlor-pinko’ brigade with whom he lumped such notables as Norman Mailer and Leonard Bernstein. Ironically, Tom Wolfe held them in similar disdain, but he expressed his views in a kindlier and more ironic manner, as he did years ago in Radical Chic.
Anyway, that’s about all I have to say about Bill. May he RIP in his Catholic Heaven, and may his Heaven be stratified, just to render him comfortable. Oh, and St. Paul should perhaps refrain from engaging him in debate, but Bill should keep an eye out for Thomas More, he’d give him a run for his money.