WAS BUCKLEY, ON BALANCE, BAD FOR AMERICA? Although I admire William F. Buckley Jr. enormously, I'm a committed liberal. I believe Buckley and the conservative movement were wrong about many important issues, such as the civil rights movement, for example. Indeed, even Buckley, looking back, agreed he was wrong on that issue. More controversially, I believe that Buckley and National Review were wrong about basic Cold War strategy — they wanted to roll back communism rather than contain it — and about the Vietnam War, although it must quickly be added that Lyndon Johnson and other liberals were wrong on that issue too. America may well have been better off if conservatives had supported the civil rights movement and opposed American intervention in Vietnam.
WHY HAS THE AMERICAN LEFT NOT PRODUCED A FIGURE OF BUCKLEY'S STATURE IN THE LAST HALF-CENTURY? Buckley was unique. He wrote a syndicated column carried by 350 newspapers, produced 56 books, was perhaps the most sought-after speaker in the nation, hosted an enormously popular weekly television show on PBS, founded and edited National Review — and found time to run for mayor of New York City and sail across oceans. Sometimes he made us gasp. Often he made us laugh. There is no other figure on the left or the right who matches him.
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