Posts Tagged ‘The Firing Line’

Remembering William F. Buckley Jr.

July 23, 2010

A friend of mine gave me a copy of Christopher Buckley’s Remembering Mum and Pup. “Mum” and “Pup” were his pet names for his parents, Patricia Taylor Buckley and William F. Buckley Jr.  It wouldn’t have occurred to me to read the book otherwise, but it was more interesting than I expected.

William F. Buckley Jr. was once the face of the conservative movement in the United States, through his magazine, National Review, his syndicated newspaper column, his TV program “The Firing Line” and his many books.  I thought his opinions, except for anti-Communism, ranged from the misguided to the morally reprehensible.  His first books were an attack on academic freedom and a defense of Senator Joe McCarthy, and he was a champion of white supremacy in the American South and South Africa (a position he retracted after it was too late to make any difference).

At the same time I always watched “The Firing Line” on PBS, and often found food for thought in it.  Buckley did his homework, was courteous to his guests and debated issues of substance and not trivialities.  He made me think through my own positions.

I think the fact that Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck occupy Buckley’s niche in the conservative movement says something about how that movement has evolved over the years.  I think the fact that Limbaugh and Beck have the influence formerly held by Edward R. Murrow and Walter Cronkite says something about how American society has evolved over the years.