William F. Buckley died today at his home in Connecticut. He was 82.
There will be a lot published in the coming days about this man of ideas. Suffice it to say here that he made a great impact on many people, both through his books, articles, magazine and television show over the years.
I first read him in high school, before I had developed my political philosophy. The thing I remember about his writings then was his suggestion that if a person was to be truly effective arguing his case for any position, he must know the issue well enough that he could take the other side in a debate — and win!
Buckley was of course a Goldwater supporter in 1964. I was not — yet. After Goldwater’s crushing defeat, Buckley wrote a one-word editorial in his magazine, National Review. It read simply: Aargh.
I had the pleasure of meeting Bill Buckley in 1968 when a group I belonged to invited him to speak at Oregon State University. Just before he arrived for his talk, news broke that North Korea had captured a US naval vessel, the USS Pueblo, off its coast. I was the one who broke the news to Buckley over dinner.
We can debate the specifics of his philosophy, but for now, let’s remember him as a man of ideas who influenced generations of Americans to think and engage in the battle of ideas. He will be missed.
Steve Buckstein is Senior Policy Analyst and founder of Cascade Policy Institute, a Portland-based think tank.