Life Well Spent - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Life Well Spent

Over on the Spectator main page, you’ll find several tributes to Bill Buckley. R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr., our editor in chief and longtime friend of Buckley, writes the obit. Publisher Alfred S. Regnery supplies some historical context. In a special symposium, a number of voices step forward to speak well of the departed: Wlady Pleszczynski, W. James Antle III, Joel Miller, Haywood H. Hillyer III, Michael Brendan Dougherty, and G. Tracy Mehan, III. (Three III’s!) For my part, I’m trying to get Books & Culture to unlock the full text of an appreciation of the man that was published in 2005. Here’s how it started:

“In his own reckoning, William Frank Buckley, Jr., is not an introspective man. A few years back, I caught an episode of the Charley Rose Show in which the emotive host tried to get the writer to imagine something he would have done differently, given the chance. Buckley refused to bite, expressing a disinclination most fully articulated in Overdrive, a week-in-the-life ‘personal documentary’ published when the Reagan administration was still young: ‘I do resist introspection though I can not claim to have “guarded” against it, because even to say that would suppose that the temptation to do so was there, which it isn’t.’ If it’s true, he remarked elsewhere, that only the examined life is worth living, then his life has been misspent.

“Here, as so often, one envies Buckley’s facility with languages; my designation of him as a big fat liar would sound so much more dignified in French or Spanish. His has been a spectacularly examined life, as Overdrive and its predecessor, Cruising Speed, attest. To conduct such sustained acts of public self-examination, all the while affecting absolute indifference to ‘introspection,’ is a triumph of the Buckley persona. From his playful intellectual jousting on Firing Line, the PBS show he hosted for 37 years, to his witty one-line replies in the Notes & Asides column of National Review, the political journal he founded, he has maintained an air of passionate nonchalance, suggesting that he was too busy speechifying, editing his fortnightly magazine, taping his talk show, dabbling in politics, dashing off three columns a week, sailing the globe, and churning out books while skiing in Switzerland to look inward.

“But over the last 15 years, as he has gradually pulled back from public life, Buckley…”

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