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Commentary Last Updated: Mar 5th, 2008 - 00:58:32

America�s right knight of the wrong: William F. Buckley, Jr. (1925-2008)
By Ben Tanosborn
Online Journal Contributing Writer

Mar 5, 2008, 00:56

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Go ahead, tell me what an incredible intellectual genius and fabulously well-liked person William F. Buckley, Jr., was. Repeat it time and again . . . before, during and after you waterboard me; say it in prose or say it in verse; say in Ovidius� classical Latin or in low brow Jerome�s Vulgate; force it as invocation before every meal while I�m your guest at Guantanamo; herald it, if you must, as the empire�s political and literary edict to cleanse any liberal curses with patriotically god-blessed jasmine spray; and do it, while you pass it on as a rumor among all fifth columnists that still populate America�s decimated Left.

Okay, so you are turning blue with anger, and I keep shaking a less-than-patrician head! Well . . . intelligent, learned, erudite, even conditionally affable, I will buy most of it in bulk, with the stipulation that I�d be allowed an opportunity to return it all within 30 days for a full refund. But if you start getting serious, and into the realm of the scholarly, you are then forcing me to challenge those other attributes of genius, thinker, even intellectual; that means I�d have to pass on the sale, even if you throw in a couple of top cabernets, and a Domeq La Ina dry sherry from his Stamford wine cellar in the purchase price.

You are certainly welcome to say that he is the father of modern conservative America; after all, DNA proof does hold water with the same impermeability as good Irish whisky. And Buckley�s conservative DNA is just a cousinship removed from that other neocon monstrosity of the Chicago School. Now, please don�t ask me to venture a guess as to how that fatherhood came about . . . whether it was uninvited rape or sluttish consent; that�s just not for me to say. It�s really up to serious academics to do the research on the overgrown bastard. And there is over one-half century of �National Review� articles archived amongst soiled diapers that will revive and clarify all biographical material on the little monster. Just ask the brain-indigent young man at the archives� door, Rich Lowry, to let you in. Condescendingly, eyes looking up, like his mentor, he�ll let you in.

If you wish to assign Buckley any form of a superlative, or give him a title of any sort, you should do so without being blinded by our unique-in-the-world fanatical devotion to celebrities and castes. You can certainly put him on a pinnacle of his very own, for he well deserves it, being the only member of America�s nobility to drink from the papal calyx of truth kept in that sanctum sanctorum right next the alchemic secret formula that allows to turn Right into Wrong. Just how in Catholic heavens did Buckley command such Vatican grace that would allow him access to the alchemic secret formula? I mean taking a stand on behalf of the Right for every single issue/thing that ultimately proved wrong? Wow, will any other American noble be gifted with such infallible-fallibility again?

His Ivy fights, be it with Yale or with Harvard -- as a first time voter or as a mayoralty candidate for the City of New York -- say little or nothing about where he stood as the Jouster for the Right in this nation. The Knight of Mirrors and Echoes, as he might have been found to be by Don Quixote, only to enter the books of chivalry and higher order of things as the knight with total compulsion for egotism, and the incomparable orgasmic pleasure he appeared to derive in watching and listening to himself.

Yep, this baron of New England in his quest to turn Right into Wrong, undid the Man from La Mancha at every turn, his excuse not one of insanity but egocentricity and an unloving heart. And he succeeded . . . in human terms, a success that we call failure.

Buckley succeeded for the Right, but failed for other Americans, as he stood in the 50s championing McCarthyism as a conservative cause; staying firm and �bush-patriotic� to the bitter end, as Americans started to recognize Joseph McCarthy�s repugnant ways.

Buckley succeeded for the Right, but failed humankind, as he rallied a no-matter-what invasion of Cuba, even after the understanding reached with Russia during the missile crisis.

Buckley succeeded for the Right, but failed for democracy, as he remained loyal to Franco and his duumvirate with the Holy Mother Church in Spain to the very end (1975). As much as he tinted his conservatism in Red, White and Blue, its roots always stayed clearly visible as belonging to oppressive Catholic Spain.

Buckley succeeded for the Right, but failed for his fellow black Americans, as he stood side by side in the 60s defending an unholy and villainous conservative crusade: the South�s opposition to integration after it had been adopted as the law of the land . . . not just with sophistry, but what�s even worse: a racist cold heart.

Buckley succeeded for the Right, but failed for peace and international relations, as he became the �erudite� face to a Vietnam War that only made sense to the beneficiaries of the military-industrial-complex and planners/drafters of an emerging empire.

Buckley succeeded for the Right, and in no small way for his own socio-economic class, but failed America in everything it had once stood for: prosperity and ever closer economic equality amongst its people. Shamefully, since he ushered Reagan in 27 years ago, economic inequality has more than tripled.

An American �classic� and an American �original� were two among equally abhorrent descriptions rendered by news anchors, celebrities themselves, describing this political character deserving respect at death, but certainly no accolades . . . not unless you belong to that elitist group in America who comprise fewer than one per thousand of us.

� 2008 Ben Tanosborn

Ben Tanosborn, columnist, poet and writer, resides in Vancouver, Washington (USA), where he is principal of a business consulting firm. Contact him at

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