The scourge of liberalism breathes his last

29 February 2008

William F. Buckley Jr, the founder of the National Review “who marshaled polysyllabic exuberance, arched eyebrows and a refined, perspicacious mind to elevate conservatism to the centre of American political discourse”, has passed away at the age of 82, and David Brooks has a warm op-ed piece on his mentor, in the New York Times:

“When I was in college, William F. Buckley Jr. wrote a book called Overdrive in which he described his glamorous lifestyle. Since I was young and a smart-aleck, I wrote a parody of it for the school paper.

“‘Buckley spent most of his infancy working on his memoirs,’ I wrote in my faux-biography. ‘By the time he had learned to talk, he had finished three volumes: The World Before Buckley, which traced the history of the world prior to his conception; The Seeds of Utopia, which outlined his effect on world events during the nine months of his gestation; and The Glorious Dawn, which described the profound ramifications of his birth on the social order.’

“The piece went on in this way. I noted that his ability to turn water into wine added to his popularity at prep school. I described his college memoirs: God and Me at Yale, God and Me at Home and God and Me at the Movies. I recounted that after college he had founded two magazines, one called The National Buckley and the other called The Buckley Review, which merged to form The Buckley Buckley.

“I wrote that his hobbies included extended bouts of name-dropping and going into rooms to make everyone else feel inferior.

“Buckley came to the University of Chicago, delivered a lecture and said: “David Brooks, if you’re in the audience, I’d like to offer you a job.”

Photograph: courtesy Suzy Allman/ The New York Times

Read the full tribute: Remembering the mentor

Read the New York Times obituary: Sesquipedalian spark

The Guardian obituary

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