End of the Beginning
James Joyner at Outside the Beltway writes:"Buckley's intellectual leadership, judgment, and tone were cornerstones in building the modern conservative movement. His good sense in denouncing the John Birchers and distancing himself from the excesses of Pat Buchanan and others earned him respect on both sides of the aisle." John Podhoretz at Commentary's Contentions writes:"From the first to the last, however, he had an intellectually transcendent purpose from which he never deviated: The explication of, defense of, and advancement of, traditional mores and traditional beliefs, and a concomitant commitment to the notion that social experiments are very dangerous things indeed. He was, ever and always, a serious man in an increasingly unserious time."
Rick Moran, at Right Wing Nuthouse writes: "A great light in the firmament of American letters has been dimmed today. Buckley leaves a conservative movement in turmoil, a victim largely of its own success – a success for which he was largely responsible. We must make our own way now, climbing on the shoulders of greats like William Buckley to reach ever higher, bettering ourselves and the human condition while being inspired by the irrepressible and indomitable spirit who passed into legend today."
Rick Perstein at the progressive Blog for Our Future writes on his respect for Buckley's adversarial courtesy: "He was a good and decent man. He knew exactly what my politics were about—he knew I was an implacable ideological adversary—yet he offered his friendship to me nonetheless. He did the honor of respecting his ideological adversaries, without covering up the adversarial nature of the relationship in false bonhommie."
Not all memories of Buckley were so reverent. Gawker posted this scathing obituary: "Conservative author, essayist, columnist, pundit, smug asshole, gadabout, secret spook, and blue-blooded creep William F. Buckley is dead. Buckley, 82, suffered from diabetes and emphysema, though his cause of death is not yet known. And with him died respectable, intelligent, genteel-but-cut-throat New York Conservatism."
Read more memories of William F. Buckley Jr. The National Review Online, Web site of the magazine he founded, offers a slew of eulogies. Slate "Recycled" a diary Buckley wrote in 1998. Also check out his "Breakfast Table" dialogue with Michael Kinsley from 2001.
Alex Joseph is a Slate intern.