William F. Buckley Jr., 1925-2008

William Kristol, The Weekly Standard, March 10, 2008.


Here’s one measure of the man and the scope of his achievement: No serious historian will be able to write about 20th-century America without discussing Bill Buckley. Before Buckley, there was no conservative movement. After Buckley, there was Ronald Reagan. Reagan was the most important American political figure of the latter half of the 20th century. No one was more central to his emergence and success than Bill Buckley.

It was not just a happy coincidence that Buckley, in the course of promoting conservatism, also helped his country. It’s true that he saw in conservatism a set of doctrines that transcended any one nation, or any one time, and that approached the status of political, even metaphysical, truths. But Buckley wasn’t embarrassed to view his conservatism as being in the service of his patriotism, and to see in the conservative movement a means of defending our country and of defending freedom. Indeed, because of the debilities of postwar liberalism, conservatism had to take as its task the defense of Western civilization itself. And so it did.

The Weekly Standard