William Frank Buckley
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Mr. Buckley
Political Party: Conservative Party of New York State
Education: National Autonomous University of Mexico

Vassar College

Yale University

Religion Catholic
Born November 24, 1925
Died February 27, 2008

William F. Buckley (November 24, 1925 – February 27, 2008) was an American political commentator from the 20th Century. A prominent conservative in a time when that seemed almost oxymoronic, Buckley is sometimes seen as an ancestor of the modern American right-wing, although in many ways he differs radically from the modern right. Most especially, his was an intellectual conservatism; he matriculated at Yale University and became well known for his erudition and powerful argumentative skills. As you will read below, he was mostly full of horseshit, but then again, this is the American brand of intellectualism we're dealing with.

Buckley's prominent works included God and Man at Yale, a critique of secularism in academia; Firing Line, a political debate TV show in which he displayed both the aforementioned erudition and a willingness to actually listen to his opponents; and most importantly, the conservative paper National Review. (You can see how well the National Review has turned out without him.)


  • Chased anti-Semites out of the New Right, along with other fringe lunatics such as the John Birch Society and Ayn Rand.[1][2] Objectivists still hate him for that.
  • Helped ensure that segregationists, such as populist George Wallace, were marginalized.
  • Was an outspoken critic of Dubya and neoconservatism in general after the Iraq War.[3]
  • Wanted to legalize marijuana and encouraged the GOP to switch their position on the issue.
  • Tried to keep intellectualism influential in the GOP, though he failed. (This was one of his greatest regrets.)
  • His son, Christopher Buckley, is a fairly pleasant, self-aware, and arguably sane conservative.[4]
  • Wrote a bunch of mediocre spy novels.
  • Wanted to outlaw tobacco use in America, though oddly he himself was a smoker.[5]
  • Had a rivalry with Gore Vidal.[6]
  • Helped inadvertently radicalize the Republican Party, possibly more than anyone else. Along with throwing out the loonies, he then started to purify the GOP of those who he thought weren't true conservatives. This meant the fairly respectable Rockefeller/Eisenhower/Lincoln Republicans who had formerly dominated the party. He mainly did this by throwing his support behind Barry Goldwater and on at least one occasion he went so far as to endorse a certain Democrat for senator just so a liberal Republican would lose.[7][8]
  • Spoke very favorably of fascist dictators such as Francisco Franco[9] and Augusto Pinochet[10] because they opposed communism and despite the fact that the left-wing governments their coup d'etats toppled were democratically elected. He even praised Franco after Franco's death.
  • Supported Joseph McCarthy and McCarthyism, which he never seemed to regret.[11] Freedom if it's only your freedom, right?
  • Prior to renouncing his racist views in the mid 60's, he used the National Review to support segregation. He even wrote an article in support of white supremacy, and he never really apologized for the article.[12]
  • Set the "groundwork" that would get Saint Ronnie elected president.
  • Added social conservatism to the New Right, and didn't hold homosexuality/bisexuality in very high regard.
  • Added laissez-faire to the New Right, which was at odds with the more traditional stance of not touching regulation one way or the other so long as it wasn't needlessly damaging to the economy. This would encourage the GOP to deregulate nearly everything they could get their hands on, and this is what we got.
  • In a debate with Carl Sagan he argued strongly in support of stockpiling nuclear weapons as a means to keep the USSR in check, even though both sides already had enough nukes to destroy each other multiple times over. Sagan won in the end.
  • Brought Dinesh D'Souza to prominence (and I think he might want to undo if he had the chance).


  1. Roger Chapman. Culture Wars: an encyclopedia of issues, viewpoints, and voices (2009)
  2. Jennifer Burns, Goddess of the Market: Ayn Rand and the American Right (2010)
  3. Oh boy did Buckley have quite the weakness for No true Scotsman
  4. Though wingnuts have hated him ever since he endorsed Obama in 2008. [1]
  6. The famous video itself
  7. Judis. William F. Buckley, Jr.: Patron Saint of the Conservatives
  9. National Review, 10/26/1957
  10. National Review, 11/23/1998
  11. Buckley, William F. (1954). McCarthy and His Enemies: The Record and Its Meaning. Degenery Publishing, p. 132. ISBN 0-89526-472-2.

Adapted from RationalWiki