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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

William F. Buckley, Jr. RIP

Early on during my high school experience, I took an interest in politics and public policy. I can't say that I was fully committed one way or another during those years, and despite his unpopularity with my teachers (most of whom were probably union Democrats) I favored President Ronald Reagan for his wisdom, words, and love of country. President Reagan was my introduction to conservatism, although at the time, I didn't understand what that really meant. It took me a decade later to understand just how great he truly was.

Somewhere in the middle of all this, I recall watching Magnum P.I. superstar Tom Selleck doing commercials for National Review. I can hear Selleck saying, "...and its a very funny magazine." If it was good enough for Tom Selleck, I'm sure it was good enough for all of us. This may have led to us watching Bill Buckley's show Firing Line on PBS (this was back when we used television antennas so the options were pretty limited back then... hehehe). Of course, WFB wasn't easy to understand from a adolescent's perspective, but it seemed somewhat interesting nonetheless.

When I got to college, I read authors on the right and on the left. During that time, I remember reading Up From Liberalism by William F. Buckley, Jr. In fact, there were a lot of books that William F. Buckley wrote which shaped my understanding of the American political system and process. And I still own so many of them. William F. Buckley indeed helped to open my mind to conservatism by forcing me to look at complex problems in public policy from an issue-based perspective.

I frequently remember watching Mr. Buckley debate worthy opponents on his show, and watching his opponents try to reach back two or three questions later to respond because it took them that long to catch up with Mr. Buckley's brilliant mind to finally realize he had whipped them on the particular question asked five or six minutes prior. In fact, we all noticed it. And we all enjoyed it. Every minute of it.

I also remember reading his many columns courtesy of the Conservative Chronicle newspaper. Each piece was a work of art. A well constructed argument, well-organized, and perfectly written. You knew you were reading greatness. While Rush Limbaugh talked on aimlessly for three hours, five times a week, WFB wrote a mini-500-word thesis that appeared only once a week - but was worth it's weight in gold. Each sentence was billiant, each essay flowed to a logical conclusion. And if you didn't catch yourself, you'd find yourself grinning Buckley-style by the end.

Ronald Reagan taught us about leadership, patience, and what it meant to be an American. William F. Buckley taught us to take the high road by winning debates on issues and substance while at the same time interjecting laughter at both our opponents ideas, - and our opponents. With Mr. Buckley, it was never personal, no, it just was.

Thank you Mr. Buckley. Rest in Peace. And may God bless and console your family.

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