Monday, March 03, 2008

On no, Terry

Terry Prone couldn't be more wrong this week. Answering my call for something in the Irish media, her column in today's Irish Examiner is about Bill Buckley. She says she's read his books, which is admirable, but she knows little of Buckley's influence. She finishes with this.
The paradox of Buckley’s work (which ended with his death last week) is that, despite constant presence, unceasing media access, money, education and a mind as well-stocked as the Internet, albeit more selective in its content, it would be difficult to point to any individual, let alone a large swatch of people ever persuaded by him to share his right-wing views.

He was media-savvy before media-savvy was cool. Readers got hooked on his style and skill, but regarded his political positions in much the same way as tourists regard the Galapagos Islands. Great place to visit. But you wouldn’t want to live there.
This is from last week's New York Times obituary.
His most receptive audience became young conservatives first energized by Barry Goldwater’s emergence at the Republican convention in 1960 as the right-wing alternative to Nixon. Some met in September 1960 at the Buckley family home in Sharon, Conn., to form Young Americans for Freedom. Their numbers — and influence — grew.

Nicholas Lemann observed in Washington Monthly in 1988 that during the Reagan administration "the 5,000 middle-level officials, journalists and policy intellectuals that it takes to run a government" were "deeply influenced by Buckley’s example." He suggested that neither moderate Washington insiders nor "Ed Meese-style provincial conservatives" could have pulled off the Reagan tax cut and other policy transformations.
I can't tell you how many times over the past few days I've read that without Buckley there'd have been no Ronald Reagan.

Donald Lambro's column echoes much of what I've read/heard about Buckley over the past few days.
William Buckley's pioneering influence in the creation of the modern American conservative movement has been well documented since his passing last week.
Bill Kristol says, "Buckley was, simply, the indispensable man of modern American conservatism".

I don't know how Prone might define "a large swatch of people", but creating a movement that changed American politics and helped elect one of the more successful Presidents of the 20th century sounds like a big enough "swatch of people" to me.