| NEW YORK
NEW YORK Writer and commentator William F.
Buckley, the patrician intellectual credited with founding the
modern conservative movement in U.S. politics, died on
Wednesday at age 82.
Buckley suffered from emphysema over the past year and died
early on Wednesday while writing in his study in Stamford,
Connecticut, said Jack Fowler, publisher of National Review,
the magazine Buckley founded in 1955.
Buckley influenced the views of former U.S. President
Ronald Reagan and was a leading voice in the conservative
movement that helped send Republicans to the White House in
seven of the past 10 U.S. presidential elections.
"He influenced a lot of people, including me," U.S.
President George W. Bush said from the Oval Office.
"He was so articulate and he captured the imagination of a
lot of folks because he had a great way of defining the issues.
It was erudite and yet a lot of folks from different walks of
life could understand it," Bush said.
Buckley packaged his opinions with a charm and scholarly
tone that made him a hero on the right, although some critics
saw him as smug and pompous and perhaps even racist.
That the late historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr. called him
"the scourge of liberalism," was said to have caused Buckley
He could be pugnacious, as in a 1968 television debate with
writer Gore Vidal when Buckley said, "Stop calling me a
crypto-Nazi or I'll knock you in the God-damned teeth."
Although Buckley, a Roman Catholic, denounced
anti-Semitism, he also believed in white superiority over
blacks as late as 1961, said the author of the upcoming book
"White Protestant Nation: The Rise of the American Conservative
Allan Lichtman, who reviewed Buckley's papers at Yale
University, said Buckley defended apartheid in South Africa and
that National Review editorials referred to white superiority.
"I pray every Negro will not be given the vote in South
Carolina tomorrow," Buckley wrote in a private letter to
Douglas Stewart dated October 10, 1961, according to Lichtman.
"This was the heyday of the civil rights movement,"
Lichtman said. "All of these racist views were being
challenged. He may have changed that view. But as late as 1961
he was against measures of equality for blacks."
FOUNDER OF A MOVEMENT
Yet no one doubts his importance to conservatism. Lichtman
said Buckley ranked second only to Reagan for conservatism's
revival in the second half of the 20th century.
"He created the conservative movement. I don't think
anybody else had the charm and talent to pull this off," said
Fowler, the National Review publisher. "And it's a monumental
achievement. He created a major political movement that has
profoundly shaped America and the world."
Known for challenging conventional wisdom, Buckley authored
more than 40 books including 1951's "God and Man at Yale," a
criticism of liberal ideology that catapulted him to fame.
He was perhaps best known as the host for more than 30
years of the television show "Firing Line," and his column "On
the Right" was syndicated to more than 300 newspapers.
On TV he regaled in skewering liberals with a smile, and
his use of long words sent many viewers to the dictionary.
"Great man, great leader. Great conservative ahead of his
time, articulate and entertaining," said U.S. Sen. John McCain,
the probable 2008 Republican presidential candidate.
In 1965 Buckley ran for mayor of New York City and won 13.4
percent of the vote on the Conservative Party ticket.
William Rusher, publisher of National Review from 1957 to
1988, said Buckley "did finally take the position that the war
in Iraq was a mistake, that we should not have gone in ... but
that did not turn him against Bush or the conservative
His wife Pat Buckley, a fixture on New York's social and
fashion scene, died last year.
Their son Christopher Buckley is a well-known political
satirist and author. (Additional reporting by Andrew Sullivan,
David Alexander, Ed Stoddard and Adam Tanner)