02/28/08 — Quiet eloquence: William F. Buckley Jr. gave much to political discourse

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Quiet eloquence: William F. Buckley Jr. gave much to political discourse

When William F. Buckley Jr.’s name is mentioned, it is always followed by a reference to his championing of the conservative ideals that led to a more widespread acceptance of that philosophy.

But Buckley, who died Wednesday at his desk at age 82, contributed so much more to politics, commentary and the world.

He welcomed all comers, no matter what their political persuasion. Engaging in any sort of discourse with a worthy opponent was his job and his passion.

He wrote on everything from politics, government and international relations to economics and social mores.

He did not mince words, and he did not back down — even when his views were in the minority,

What made Buckley special was his grace, command of the language and his ability to hit you where it hurt, leaving you respecting his opinion, even if you did not agree with it.

It was not easy to read his columns or his books. His ability to use the language was so advanced that getting through one would require you to go to a dictionary at least once.

And that respect for the English language is also what made him someone to be admired and emulated. He wanted everyone to understand its nuances and beauty as well as the power it commands when it is used well.

It seems fitting that Buckley died in his study, hard at work. He had something to say right up until his death.

And the best tribute to him would be to read something he wrote — and then to go write something of your own. Consider it a sort of passing of the torch.

Published in Editorials on February 28, 2008 10:56 AM