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Thursday, February 28, 2008

A Moment

I come not to praise William F. Buckley, but to bury him.

Like now, you call them Nazis, they call you queer.

I suppose that it bears noting that in those days you were expected to be eloquent, and at least somewhat expected to listen. In this sense, I suppose that I'm supposed to say nice things about Buckley because he represents a comparative politeness and civility.
But in a 1989 interview on NPR that I heard today, he trotted out that argument I most hate from yer average right-wing bedwetter: that to fail to label one argument as 'bad' and another as 'good' is to be somehow morally inadequate. This is why I may gladly and openly view them as morons.

Whenever some liberal well-meaner says that being judgmental is the worst thing one might do, I of course counter that this is something that every human does, and it may very well define us as beings. We make delineations; the more immature among us will describe them as 'good and evil'.
The difference is that we, as individuals, don't disenfranchise large groups of people by our delineations. Nations and movements do.
This is why this twinky little bastard Buckley is consigned to the nastiest studio apartment in nonexistent Hell, to my mind.

Check how both Vidal and Buckley have what Tom Wolfe would call the 'mid-Atlantic' accent. Once upon a time, many Americans did: we sounded English because a great many of us were only a generation or two removed from being from the United Kingdom.
By the time this debate was filmed, the people who would have had this accent were like Gore and Bill: born in the 1920's, raised in private schools and taught that Europe still had the culture we should attempt to emulate. America? Well, there's time, I suppose...

Thing is, Buckley was one of those guys who did a very good job of being eloquent and even sort of gentlemanly while espousing viewpoints that were basically childish: There is a demonstrable right and wrong, and those who say otherwise are immoral, as are all who oppose our political agenda. Or, I don't want to pay taxes, so those who say that I should are immoral.
Now, is there a difference between them calling me immoral and me calling them stupid? I believe there is. 'Stupid' is provable, and better still, changable. But 'immoral' is something that you either are or are not, and therefore gives a silly and irreducible superiority to the arguments of those who make them. This is why they don't receive my respect.

And that's why I must merely say, Bill Buckley is dead. Largely famous for his televised debates with my man Gore Vidal, he will be remembered, if at all, for giving rise to a generation of pseudo-pundits who would never consider being as courtly as he was, as that might appear faggy, or something. Indeed, it's even weird to note how awfully effete the guy was, despite making a pretty lengthy career of queer-baiting others.
He differs from other conservatives of his time only in that he wasn't a complete thug like Pat Buchanan or Joe McCarthy...In terms of appearance, anyway. But this is also the man who fired David Brooks from National Review for being Jewish, friends, and no amount of weepy testimonials from the likes of George F. Will can change that. There will be a few more days, no doubt, of bullshit stories about how elegant and refined Buckley was, with no mention made of the ugly bigotry and hatred it only barely disguised.

In a wonderful irony of history, after giving Brooks the heave-ho, Rich Lowry took over at the Review. The pasty-faced, eternally whining Rich Lowry that so neatly sums up the ethic of the true children of Reagan. He represents the Neo-Cons, and Bill Buckley hated them.
Not so much because of an ideological disagreement* , but because he seems to have personally despised most of those guys. This would cause him to withdraw his support for the war in Iraq.

It's funny that he would be credited for the Reagan revolution, because there too was someone that was the anti-Buckley (friendly, anti-intellectual), and he began the interesting pattern among modern conservatives of racking up massive national debt. I suppose Buckley might have liked that-as long as you were racking up massive national debt in the pursuit of a moral cause- and of course, he was always quickly reassured that everything we do is moral by the thugs and used-car salesmen who are always in charge of us.

Sleep well, crybaby.

*( Perhaps the old saw about conservatives is apropos here: a true conservative is a person who feels that nothing should be done for the first time, and a Fifties- or Paleo- conservative being a person who says It Should Be Done, But Not Now. I suppose that the corollary to this is that Neo-Conservatives just want to destroy everything because life is a video game.)



Blogger LadrĂ³n de Basura (a.k.a. Junk Thief) said...

I was on a remote hillside in Ecuador when a 20-something fellow traveler was scanning news on her iPhone and (after announcing American Idol updates) said, "Some old dude named William F. Buckley died."

The accent always sounded like an undergrad who spent a semester in the U.K. and suddenly felt that unto the manner he was born. Joan Crawford's MGM diction sounded more natural than his. As a kid, I always concentrated more on how he said things instead of what he said. I was 20 or older before I understood what an ass he was.

I remember that during the original airing of "Brideshead Revisited" that he had a little after-the-show commentary. It struck me as fittingly ironic and perplexing that he only about its analysis of Catholicism (which ultimately was a theme) and completely ignoring the two-boys-in-love theme of the first two to three episodes. That spoke volumes of his inability to see the world as it truly was and only view it threw a very narrow, inappropriate lens.

Yes, let's bury him and move on. When Gore passes, I will shed a few tears.

8:39 AM  
Blogger rich bachelor said...

Ditto. In particular, I'm not looking forward to the shitty generalizations we're going to hear about Vidal.

And, is there anything more pathetic than listening to someone who sounds like my gramma threatening to paste you one in the face 'and you'll stay plastered'? Bitch, please.

10:36 AM  

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