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.