Wednesday, February 27, 2008

William F. Buckley Dead At 82

I was watching the Democratic Convention late one night in 1968 as William F. Buckley spared with Gore Vidal. That was in the 1960’s and though I cannot remember the exact date, I remember the scene distinctly. Two of the most erudite and sophisticated pundits in the country debating the Presidential race was the kind of TV we had in those days. Buckley and Vidal made very considered statements and their debate was genuinely about issues and not posturing until that moment.

It was a defining moment in American TV when as they were discussing the actions of the Chicago police during the riots the following heated exchange occurred as Buckley called the actions of the demonstrators "crypto-Nazi".

Vidal: "the only pro or crypto-Nazi here is yourself."

Buckley: "Now listen, you queer, you stop calling me a crypto-Nazi or I'll sock you in the goddamn face and you'll stay plastered."

And so the tone was set for American TV commentary ever since. Today we have no real discussions of issues on TV, just name calling and sensationalists like Ann Coulter.

Well, the man who lit that fire, William F. Buckley is dead. He will be missed by many for his wit, charm and occasional sharp tongue. Personally, I always like listening to him on his TV show Firing Line and though I rarely agreed with his politics, he was always good for interesting comments and for that he will be missed.

No comments: