Thursday, November 17, 2005


WFB's Secret '60s Epiphany

One of the highlight's of the dinner in honor of William F. Buckley's 80th birthday tonight was a montage of various '60s & 70s clips where he was either a guest or subject of (gentle) parody.

Some clips -- WFB on "Laugh-In" or Woody Allen's talk-show -- were real rarities.

What was fascinating was how comfortable Buckley came across. He didn't try to be "cool" or "hip." But he was congenial in every setting, with a great smile and a perfectly timed quip that never failed to win over his audience (stylistically, if not intellectually).

That demonstrates his greatest gift (beyond his command of language) and explains his ultimate success -- beyond founding National Review in 1955: He knew preaching to the choir wasn't enough; the written word wasn't enough; "serious" venues weren't enough.

So, in the next decade, Buckley took his "act" to as many places as possible -- and charmed his way in long enough to ensure that either he or his ideas got some memorable hearing.

William F. Buckley, subverter of the pop culture paradigm.

UPDATE: Post title edited to include the proper word choice (as Mr. Buckley would wish).

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