William F. Buckley has died at age 82.
Apparently he died at work in his study, which for one of the leading conservative thinkers and writers is as close to dying “with your boots on” as you can get.
For those of us who came of age politically on college campuses during the Reagan Revolution, Buckley was the intellectual Godfather of the movement.
He came to Arizona State University during my senior year, when I had already earned a reputation as a conservative firebrand. I was invited to a pre-event reception where he said a few words and took some questions.
I remember challenging his views on drug legalization from a conservative, law and order perspective, and seeing the shocked reaction of local journalists as they realized leading ASU conservatives were to the right of even William F. Buckley.
One thing he said at that event really stood out to me. In challenging the notion of moral relativism — that all ideas are equally valid – he said, “There may be some who prefer the taste of dishwater to wine.” After a brief pause, he said, “But they would be wrong.” He was one of the first conservative leaders who not only had a sense of humor, but seemed to genuinely enjoy life.
His classic work “God and Man at Yale” should be read by all young conservatives before they go to college. His vital role in translating conservative ideas into political influence cannot be underestimated. Without Buckley there might not have been a Goldwater presidential candidacy and a Reagan presidency.
For a thinker and a writer, that is an amazing legacy.


  1. I remember, as a student at Moody Bible Institute, seeing WFB moderate a debate at Moody Church in Chicago between William Lane Craig and John Dominic Crossan called “Will the Real Jesus Please Stand Up?”
    Buckley’s moderation was droll and dry as the desert. The debate was fun – but Buckley made it truly memorable!

  2. WFB will be remembered as one the select people who realized that God had given him a talent and he was obliged to use it. He was a prolific writer and exuded a certain class. I think he deliberately liked to create a little controversy to see who was awake. Yet on the critical issues, life, marriage, family, he was dead on and pity the poor fellow who tried to tangle with him. A stalwart pro-life advocate, we pray that he feasts his eyes on the pearly gates and that those who were close to him will have the consolation of the angels.


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