by Jack Hunter
"The plain fact, politely unmentioned in most Buckley obituaries, is that Buckley and National Review have been complicit in leading the conservative movement, the Republican Party and the country into utter disaster. Conservatives have essentially nothing to show for their moment in power except two completely unexpected colonial wars in the Middle East. And this year's elections are widely expected to be a generational catastrophe.
This might seem an ungallant note to strike at a moment when Buckley is enjoying the posthumous plaudits of friend and (avidly courted) foe. But not the least evidence of Buckley’s unmistakable effeminate streak was a viciousness that showed in his flouting of such comforting conventions—for example in his 1995 obituary of the libertarian economist Murray Rothbard, which the Mises Review’s David Gordon fairly described as "malicious spite." Buckley’s rationale (presumably) was that those of us who live by opinion must be prepared to die by opinion. If so, in this area at least, I agree with him.
The current editors of National Review have tried to claim that premature opposition to immigration was "racism" and thus legitimately subject to one of Buckley’s celebrated purges. But of course this is impossible to square with their recent opposition to amnesty (and legal mass immigration, although they don’t like to emphasize that).
Unquestionably, in my view, it explains the fratricidal savagery of Buckley’s 1992 attack on Pat Buchanan, a fellow Irish Catholic conservative who had dared to make the jump from pundit to presidential candidate.
People I respect tell me that Bill Buckley was capable of great kindness. I never saw that side of him.
What really motivated Buckley was ego and vanity. The current editors of National Review say: "If ever an institution were the lengthened shadow of one man, this publication is his."