William F. Buckley, RIP

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National Review's founder has passed away. I think anyone in the ideological journalism business has to give the man his props. What's more, Robert Farley is certainly right that he seems preferable to his co-ideologues in some respects:

"Aren't you embarrassed by the absence of these weapons?" Buckley snaps at Podhoretz. He has just explained that he supported the war reluctantly, because Dick Cheney convinced him that Saddam Hussein had WMD primed to be fired. "No," Podhoretz replies. "As I say, they were shipped to Syria. During Gulf War One, the entire Iraqi air force was hidden in the deserts in Iran." He says he is "heartbroken" by this "rise of defeatism on the right." He adds, apropos of nothing, "There was nobody better than Don Rumsfeld. This defeatist talk only contributes to the impression we are losing, when I think we are winning."

The audience cheers Podhoretz. The nuanced doubts of Bill Buckley leave them confused. Doesn't he sound like the liberal media? Later, over dinner, a tablemate from Denver calls Buckley "a coward." His wife nods and says, "Buckley's an old man," tapping her head with her finger to suggest dementia.

Of course the Buckley-era National Review was also an apologist for violent, anti-democratic, populist nationalist movements of the right in Spain, the Old Confederacy, and elsewhere though one wouldn't want to call those people fascists since, after all, they weren't liberals.

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Matthew Yglesias is a former writer and editor at The Atlantic.

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