William F. Buckley, Jr.
John Podhoretz offered these words about WFB:
He was the model of the modern American intellectual. He published a small magazine of ideas whose influence and centrality to the country in which he lived vastly outdistanced publications with 100 times its readership. He wrote a newspaper column for a half-century, twice or three times a week, at which he grew so expert that he could dash one off in the time it took his driver to navigate the length of the Bruckner Expressway, and with a quality of prose that made other newspaper scribes seem as simple-minded as the anonymous authors of Dick and Jane. He ran for office once, a fool’s errand that led to the publication of one of the best books ever written about politics, The Unmaking of a Mayor. He was one of the first writer-thinkers to find a home on television with his show Firing Line, and his wit made him a superb talk-show guest. For all these reasons, he transcended his roots and became a pop-culture icon, the only writer to have appeared as a caricatured figure in a Disney movie (when the genie in Aladdin, voiced by Robin Williams, converts himself into Buckley, complete with his patented lean-back in a chair, as he details the “three-wish” rule). From the first to the last, however, he had an intellectually transcendent purpose from which he never deviated: The explication of, defense of, and advancement of, traditional mores and traditional beliefs, and a concomitant commitment to the notion that social experiments are very dangerous things indeed. He was, ever and always, a serious man in an increasingly unserious time.
Must confess I never read “God & Man at Yale,” but Buckley made a great straight man for Tip O’Neill in that space technology PSA.
Buckley: “I’m here to elucidate on the benefits of space technology. Yourself?”
O’Neill: “I’m here to bring what you say down to earth.”
Buckley would’ve been a good SNL host. You could tell there was a sense of humor beneath that hoity-toity demeanor.